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mnanon

A poliite way of asking for coffee?

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imron
I agree with xiaocai that 請, 謝謝, and greetings like 你好 etc are indeed commonly used.

I wouldn't say that they aren't commonly used, but I do think they are used in different ways and in different situations than their English equivalents.

Would you say that you use 请 and 谢谢 in Chinese as often as you would 'please' and 'thank you' in English, (when in a similar situation).

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Iriya

The mainland Chinese never say 你好 to their friends, it's too formal. The conversation is usually started with something like 你吃了吗 or 你去哪儿 (if met on the street) or just a simple 嘿.

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Olle Linge
The mainland Chinese never say 你好 to their friends, it's too formal. The conversation is usually started with something like 你吃了吗 or 你去哪儿 (if met on the street) or just a simple 嘿.

This is oversimplified and not necessarily true. It's been discussed widely elsewhere and the post over at Sinoosplice summarises it quite well.

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skylee
Would you say that you use 请 and 谢谢 in Chinese as often as you would 'please' and 'thank you' in English, (when in a similar situation).

I would, especially 謝謝. But what complicates the matter is that I usually speak in Cantonese. I say 唔該 (= 請 / 謝謝) all the time. And I sometimes throw in 勞煩你 at the end of a conversation when I have asked people to do things for me.

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rezaf

Maybe it's some kind of English influence? I am personally working hard on getting rid of unnecessary 你好、謝謝、請 to sound more natural. Especially 你好 bothers me a lot. It's like as if I have been programmed to say 你好 to everyone I see. Japanese classmates also overuse these words a lot.

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OneEye
and even 感恩 (which I've always thought was a really nice Vietnamese-based version, though I'm ignorant of its actual origins)

I'm told (we actually talked about it in class today) that this is more of a Buddhist term. I don't know how accurate that is, or if it may just be a Taiwan thing to perceive it that way.

Now that I've read this thread, I've started to second-guess myself when I interact with 服務生, but maybe at least I'm not calling older women 小姊 now.

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imron

Perhaps then there are variations on this between the mainland and Hong Kong. I've had Chinese people remark on more than one occasion that I overuse words like 请 and 谢谢 and that Chinese makes far less use of these than English. I also remember a conversation I had once with a friend talking about movie translations. He was saying that he used to watch foreign movies and maybe there would be a scene where the parent would say to their child something like "Tommy, could you please close the window", which would be translated (either over-dubbed or as subtitles) as something like "托米, 请把窗户关上", and he used to find it strange that western parents were being so polite to their children because Chinese parents would never use 请 when asking their children to do things like this (sample point of one, I know, so whether this is accurate or not I'm not sure and would be happy to hear other feedback). Anyway, he went on to say that later when he learnt English he realised that the people doing the translation were just directly translating the English without much regard for how a Chinese person would actually talk.

Anyway just to clarify my position on this, I don't think statements like the one in the original post that lack 请 are impolite in the context of ordering something from a waitress. I also think that 请、谢谢、麻烦你 and other polite words are commonly used in mainland China, but not always in the same way they might be used in English, where sometimes such words just get thrown in automatically. Especially for words like 请 and 麻烦你, in my experience, these words don't seem to be used much when people order something from a waitress. 谢谢 will be heard a lot more regularly in this context especially if rattling off a list of dishes to order, and it serves in some way as a marker that you've finished ordering.

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jkhsu

I don't see any problems saying "谢谢" everytime the waitress / waiter brings you back something that you asked for. However, (in my opinion) using "麻烦你" when asking for something that a waitress / waiter should do as their job is not necessary. What happens when you want to ask for forks next? or some napkins? Do you keep on saying "麻烦你..."?

I would use "麻烦你" when I ask for something that is out of the ordinary. For example, if I happen to arrive at a restaurant with luggages that I need to carry upstairs (assuming there was no elevator) but have a child in my arms as well, I might say to the staff, "Can you help me carry my luggage upstairs? [你们可以帮我把行李拿到楼上去吗?]" and as she/he is helping me out, I might say, "麻烦你们啦!"

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Nakura
Sometimes they will not even wait for the waiter to come over to the table, instead just yelling what they want all the way across the restaurant.

It's impolite, to some extent rude, ideed.

I know that there are many chinese unwell-educated do like that, but i would never recommend you to do in same way.

Actually, more and more well-educated people do watch their manners in the public, lower-speaking, and being polite.

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Iriya

Just an hour ago when I entered a restaurant the 老板娘 yelled all the way from the other side 你吃什么, and I had to yell my favorite dish's name back.

It's so common, I don't really see anything wrong with it. The Chinese people are so 现实, they don't give a rat's ass about such trivialities.

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realmayo
谢谢 will be heard a lot more regularly in this context especially if rattling off a list of dishes to order, and it serves in some way as a marker that you've finished ordering.

Yes, this is exactly how I've heard it used.

It's tempting to wonder how much things changed following 1949, and whether such automatic politenesses were common among a section of society before the Communists took over.

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xiaocai

From what I read in many 明清白话小说, the lack formalities may be not, at least not completely, due to the communist reign.

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Hugh
e.g. imagine you were in a cafe in an English speaking country and said: "my dear waitress, if you could possibly be so kind as to bring me two cappuccinos, I'd be ever so grateful

So what happens if you 're in China and say something like:

"亲爱的服务员,如果您有可能大方地带来两杯卡布其诺给我,我可能会非常感激您"

Does the waitress' head explode in a shower of excessive politeness?

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xiaocai

Not really, but most likely I think she will still happily serve you while thinking "what a weirdo".

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yeut
because 小姐 usually refers to prostitute.

Consider in Cantonese the waitress/waters are called /. Pretty girl/boy, no matter if they are or not.

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xuefang

Here in Guangzhou I call the waiter 服务员 or 靓女/靓仔. Sometimes I just hold my hand up and when the waiter sees it, I tell her/him what I want. Usually waiter asks me 你要什么? and I just reply 我要... followed by what I want to order. Sometimes I say 谢谢 when they bring the dish to the table, sometimes not.

My native language Finnish isn't as polite as English, so being "impolite" in Chinese doesn't seem so weird for me. I know that I'm treated like a local when the cashier at a small corner store only says the price, nothing else, no please and no thank you.

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roddy

The no-nonsense efficiency of it can be quite charming. I had a conversation in a small shop that went along the lines of: 找什么? - 灯泡 - 隔壁有 - 谢谢. Which is ten syllables. In some parts of the world that wouldn't be enough for preliminary comments on the weather, and I could probably have got away with a monosyllabic grunt instead of my excessive expression of gratitude at the end.

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skylee
no please and no thank you.

This reminds me of my experience in Shanxi. I was a bit unhappy about the receptionist’s attitude at a hotel in Taiyuan (no smile, no greetings, no please, no thank you). But it was Taiyuan, and perhaps I expected too much of the service of a “5-star” hotel. To a large extent I think it has to do with training and the individuals’ character. I was very happy with the service of a small inn in Pingyao, and local-chain hotels in Jinan and Chengdu. Lots of smiles, and please and thank you. Haha.

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heifeng
找什么? - 灯泡 - 隔壁有 - 谢谢

and shorter still:

谁?我!嘛?尿!

ok, ok, sorry if you heard this one already :lol:

I'd recommend listening to what others are saying at the cafe. I fully advocate copying what you hear around you at first (and apply some common sense so you don't insult someone of course) so you get an idea of how to address the waitress/waiter and order without doing an odd direct translation from your native language.

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