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Best word/phrase for expressing humility ?


Rhyski

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Hi there,

I'm brand new to these forums, so I'm sorry if this question has been asked before.
I've been wondering, what is the best way to express humility in Chinese for a compliment that you received ?

 

I'm sure all of you have been told 你的中文很不错 or something like that many times. I'm not quite sure how to respond best to this.
In my textbook it said, 哪里哪里 is used, but is this really the case? What about 不会?or  没有? could I say either of these?

 

Thank you very much

Rhyski

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还差得远呢 also gets the notion across. Sort of like saying "still a long way to go."

 

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Edit -- fixed an embarrassing typo. (Thanks D_Duck.)

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Different Chinese speakers will tell you different things regarding this:

"No, your textbook is wrong, no-one ever says '哪里哪里' nowadays."

"No, your textbook is wrong, if you say '哪里哪里' you're implicitly agreeing with the compliment."

"No, your textbook is wrong, simply saying '谢谢' is fine."

The one thing they will all agree on is that your textbook is wrong.

 

I agree with 戴睿 that "还行吧" is fine, and it's also how I most commonly reply myself. Other acceptable (and truthful) replies are "还差得远呢" ("still a long way to go", as abcdefg says) and "我凑合吧" ("I get by").

 

If you've successfully shown how 谦虚 you are, many Chinese people will follow it up by complimenting you on that, which you really have no reasonable way to reply to. I generally go with "不是谦虚,就是实话" ("I'm not being humble, it's the truth").

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I use 还行啦 or 还差得远啊 (which apparently is something people don't expect you to be able to say, so then you get complimented some more). As I understand it, 哪里哪里 is not exactly wrong, but textbook-ese. Can be used somewhat jokingly. 学了好久了 also works, accepts the compliment while deflecting the praise a bit.

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Edit -- fixed an embarrassing typo. (Thanks D_Duck.)

I actually didn't notice any typo in your post, but glad to be of service, even accidentally :D

 

As I understand it, 哪里哪里 is not exactly wrong, but textbook-ese. Can be used somewhat jokingly.

That's how I understand it as well - but I think the joking use of it would also imply joking acceptance of the compliment.

 

"你长得好帅喔!"

"哪里哪里" *smug look*

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As I understand it, 哪里哪里 is not exactly wrong, but textbook-ese. Can be used somewhat jokingly.

 

I think this is one of the most widespread pieces of dis-information perpetrated on beginning students across the platform of several textbooks. In my beginner years I tried it over and over, both spoken and written, and never once did the native speaker I was chatting with understand what i meant.

 

The acid test, in my mind, for abstract phrases like this is whether they "work" or not in the real world, whether or not they convey what was intended. This one fails to measure up, at least it always has for me.

 

More and more these days, I don't reply in any specific way at all when someone compliments my Chinese in a casual setting (taxi, store or such.) I just grunt assent 嗯 and go on with the conversation.

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In regards to 哪里哪里 I agree it is not used to the point where it should be the fist thing people begin to learn, so text books teaching this in the first few lessons does not make a lot of sense (along with the rest of chengyu or suyu taught early on).  But  I don't think it should be regarded as odd or something nobody uses anymore.  

 

I see it still used in conversation.  In fact I can remember two occasions in the past month I heard it used by a native speaker on the mainland.  Last month we took a business associate out to lunch and in a response to some form of a complement our finance controller replied with 哪里哪里.  The other time was with my wife and her girl friend, the friend used 哪里哪里 to something my wife said. 

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I think this is one of the most widespread pieces of dis-information perpetrated on beginning students across the platform of several textbooks.

I was taught to say that by my girlfriend, who definitely did not get it from a textbook.

It is possible that it has fallen out of favour and sounds a bit dated, though, which seems to be the general feeling.

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@Renzhe -- #15 -- Thanks. Good to know. I may try using 哪里,哪里 again and see what kind of responses I get.

 

Often my speech is criticized by close Chinese friends as being rather "bookish." Seems when I try to be hip and modern with what I think is the latest slang, I fall way short and wind up sounding semi-ridiculous. (Come to think of it, that's true in English as well.)

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If there are a two or more native Chinese speakers in the group I grin and reply 你的中文也不错!This will generally result in laughter and gentle teasing of whoever originally complimented me by the rest of the group.

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