Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
NinjaTurtle

"Do you speak another language besides Chinese?"

Recommended Posts

NinjaTurtle

How do we ask this question in Mandarin:

 

"Do you speak another language besides Chinese?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

889

中文以外你还会说什么语言?(Not precisely your question, but "What languages do you speak besides Chinese?" It's a more specific question, since your general question can in theory simply be answered "Yes" or "No.")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

除了中文之外你還會說其他語言嗎?

(Seems to me a rather tortuous way of negotiating a common language.)

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NinjaTurtle

I sometimes encounter Oriental people in America, and I want to ask them if they are Chinese, Japanese, etc. But I feel this is rude. (I don't think a Korean person, for example, appreciates being asked, "Are you Japanese?") I think the most polite way, then, is to ask, "Do you speak another language besides English?"  even though, yes, it sounds rather stilted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

Well then I guess you can ask them "Where are your people from?" :roll:

 

Do you plan to use the Chinese sentence you just learned to Occidental people you encounter in China?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
陳德聰

It’s also quite rude to refer to human beings as “Oriental” in this day and age, at least in the English speaking America I’m familiar with. You might consider building a relationship with a person before asking them an “I’d like to put you in a box”-question. If they speak Chinese, you could ask someone where their 祖籍 is, and while I also find this to be a rather annoying question, it’s common enough.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu
8 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

I sometimes encounter Oriental people in America, and I want to ask them if they are Chinese, Japanese, etc. But I feel this is rude.

Yeah, try not doing that right away. Try to get to know them a bit first (How long have you worked in [company I'm having a business meeting with]? How many kids do you have at [school at which we are meeting to pick up our respective kids]? Can you help me with the [exercise machine in gym we're at]? Can you recommend a [thing you are selling]?) As you have more contact with the person, a good opportunity to find out will arise naturally enough. Perhaps they'll tell you in natural conversation, or you see a picture on their wall and they'll tell you where it was taken, or they are reading a book and you can ask what language it's in...

 

Hopefully someone non-white can confirm that this is a better way to go about it, but to me it seems that it is. Many people are happy to talk about their heritage if and when it comes up, but don't like being put into a box when they are just going about their business.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

Certainly, do not use Orientals in that context. It brings to mind all sorts of awful stereotypes.

 

My strong and very strong advice would be to just hold your curiosity. Some people are sensitive about this, or have complicated backgrounds they don't want to go into. Maybe, maybe not. But far and away the safest approach is, don't be a nosey parker! If friends want you to know something, they'll ultimately find a way to let you know.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NinjaTurtle

I am well aware of the sensitivities involved. But it is common nowadays to meet an "Oriental" while waiting in line at the mall, etc. It is also common nowadays to have an "Oriental" working the register at the mall. When I see these people every week, it is good to ask them if they are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc., without offending them, which is why something like 除了中文之外你還會說其他語言嗎?  sounds like the best way to go.  Especially when they are from China, they usually enjoy talking to an American who is familiar with China. (Most Americans can't even find Shanghai on a map.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
7 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

which is why something like 除了中文之外你還會說其他語言嗎?sounds like the best way to go

Not if they are Japanese or Korean, they'll just stare at you blankly wondering what you just said!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NinjaTurtle

When it happens in America, I use English. I was wondering how to say it in Chinese, for when I am in China. For me it is fairly easy to spot Japanese people in China (I think). So when this happens in China, I just start speaking Japanese to them. (You should see the reaction of Chinese people in Starbucks in China when I, a white American, start speaking Japanese!)

 

But this does run the risk of me mistaking a Korean person for a Japanese person in China, which is the whole problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
7 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

It’s also quite rude to refer to human beings as “Oriental” in this day and age, at least in the English speaking America I’m familiar with.

 

I could never figure out why, it never was a rude term before then all of a sudden I started hearing this "Asian" as if Asia isn't a continent that has 4 billion people stretching from the Sinai and the Urals to the Bering Strait and Indonesia.

Not only does this offend my geographic fanboy sensitivities but I don't see much difference in using Asian when you obviously mean Oriental thus dismissing the existence of several billion people and using Chinese when you mean Oriental. Just a flip side of the same coin.

 

The most I could find looking it up is this

1: Oriental is fetishism. Yeah because nobody ever uses Asian that way. Much like the ever changing term for black people, if there is an underlying attitude then changing the term does jack shit.

2: There is a sense of otherness. I don't see how Asian is any different.

3: Oriental is a type of rug. Well then Irish is a type of Whiskey, Polish is a type of sausage, French is a type of bread, Italian is a type of marble, etc.

 

I have yet to see an actual reason other than idiotic political correctness as to why it should be Asian and not Oriental and the term Asian has it's own problems. I just can't respect it. Thankfully I have yet to come across anyone who actually is bothered by the term Oriental when used respectfully and I've never seen the term Asian used any differently than Oriental.

 

I have no idea what they do in the UK where as I understand it, Asian is used for people from the Indian Subcontinent.

 

Oddly enough I got laughed at by a guy whose parents are from Sri Lanka for using Indian Subcontinent and I've gotten weird white people stares for using the term Mainland Chinese. Go figure.

 

For me it is a bit like using little person instead of dwarf or midget. The "preferred term" is much more insulting and to me diminishes the person I am talking to unlike dwarf and midget.

 

While I am at it, I will never use African American unless I am doing it ironically. I also find it weird that AA is used even for someone who is Canadian, I've brought that up a few times, amazing how often the black person in question never thought about it before considering us Canucks are kind of big on the "We are not Americans eh" thing

 

 

8 minutes ago, imron said:

Not if they are Japanese or Korean, they'll just stare at you blankly wondering what you just said!

Or if they are Chinese born overseas, or if they speak a different dialect than you.

 

I always ask for ancestry when I want to know background, then if they don't speak with an accent I ask if they ever learned X Language.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NinjaTurtle
4 minutes ago, Lumbering Ox said:

I've gotten weird white people stares for using the term Mainland Chinese.

Most Americans have no clue of the difference between Mainland China and, say, Taiwan or Singapore. And they certainly have no idea of the difference between Chinese culture and Japanese culture. I must admit that when I first went to China, I had no clue either!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DavyJonesLocker

If you look asian African or whatever and don't have a native English speaking accent there is nothing wrong in asking where someone is from or assuming a nationality. everyone  is so easily offended these days. Haven't people been to China? Everyone outside china is a foreigner, eats MacDonald's, hamburgers and is promiscuous according to many.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
14 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

Most Americans have no clue of the difference between Mainland China and, say, Taiwan or Singapore. And they certainly have no idea of the difference between Chinese culture and Japanese culture. I must admit that when I first went to China, I had no clue either!

 

Taiwan, you mean Thailand ;)

I find it funny though when people look at me like I'm an idiot and laugh because they don't understand what I am talking about.

 

On the whole China et al thing. I remember 20 years ago in grad school, this Oriental guy asked me if I saw a Chinese girl walk by. I knew who he was talking about but the girl's last name was Park which is classically Korean [I knew this because she was hot], and I corrected him on it. I might not play politically correct language games but this hommie don't play that sort of game either.

 

10 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

If you look asian African or whatever and don't have a native English speaking accent there is nothing wrong in asking where someone is from or assuming a nationality. everyone  is so easily offended these days.

 

I think the issue is if someone has been overseas for a period of time then asking them where they are from just reinforced that they will never be one of us. OTOH if someone still has a thick accent, are they really? I suppose if someone has been somewhere for 20 or 30 years and still has a slight accent it might be a bit vexing but if you moved late enough in life to retain the accent would you not retain your original national identity. I will always be Canadian. At least in the west your kids will be accepted as locals, can't say that about other places.

I ask if I hear an accent and I've never gotten backlash.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

If people in China are insensitive and stereotype foreigners, that doesn't mean that people elsewhere should be doing it too. Mauretanians keep slaves. That is bad. It means we should find a way to free the Mauretanian slaves, not that we should start keeping slaves ourselves or that the slave trade in the past is suddenly okay.

 

Asian people in Western counties generally don't like being called Oriental. They find it insulting. Now you know. If you continue to call Asian people Orientals, you are knowingly insulting them. That is not illegal, but it's pretty rude.

 

There is no real need to know whether your cashier is Chinese, Korean, Japanese or from some other country or culture. Most of the time, you'll just have to go through life not knowing. If you manage to ask or to work it into conversation, most of the time it will be awkward and off-putting, so generally it's better to just be polite and friendly, pay for the groceries and find friends elsewhere, Chinese or otherwise.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DavyJonesLocker
40 minutes ago, Lumbering Ox said:

 

I have no idea what they do in the UK where as I understand it, Asian is used for people from the Indian Subcontinent.

Asian in uk means middle eastern to others, so Indian, Pakistani, Arabs etc.

 

2 minutes ago, Lu said:

 

There is no real need to know whether your cashier is Chinese, Korean, Japanese or from some other country or culture. Most of the time, you'll just have to go through life not knowing. If you manage to ask or to work it into conversation, most of the time it will be awkward and off-putting, so generally it's better to just be polite and friendly, pay for the groceries and find friends elsewhere, Chinese or otherwise.

 

I don't see why. Its just general curiosity. There is no malice or intent about it. Its one of the reasons why I like China. Many times people ask direct questions about you without fear of offending some sensitive snowflake. Just because a lot of people in the West are afraid of their own shadows , it is not necessarily a good thing in my view Lu. I like people like trump with says things without beating around the bush and not worrying about being  PC . Not very presidential I accept, but probably one of reasons he was elected. The big woman's frilly blouse that was elected in Canada makes me cringe everytime he opens he mouth. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

It's not malice when it's just curiosity. But when people tell you that thing X can be very annoying, and you continue doing X, then it is malice.

 

Put yourself in the cashier's shoes. If someone asks where you're from, and you answer, and you have a little conversation, that is nice and fine. But a cashier sees hundreds of people every day, and might not be up for telling all of them where she is from, how long she has been here, etcetera. What's more, many Asian-looking people have been born and raised in the Western country they are now living in. It can get pretty jarring if time and again people ask you where you are from, as if you're a foreigner in your own country. That is the reason it's often better not to ask complete strangers where they are from.

 

You can like Trump if you wish, but surely you know that a lot of people find his behaviour rude and insulting. If you're going to emulate that, be aware that people will find you rude and insulting as well, and will call you out for it. 'Politically correct' is often just another word for 'polite to people whose life experiences are different from mine, even when I don't always understand why term X is so problematic for them'.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

I don't look like your average English person, am I from African heritage? or am I from India? or am I Native Canadian or American? am I Spanish? South American?

 

I know my appearance makes people think these things. Only a very few ask me outright and if I don't know them I just smile and say Canadian (which I am). People whom I have known for much longer who ask will get the full story but only after I warn them it is complicated, are you sure you want to know.

 

@NinjaTurtle Please don't ask people you don't know this question.

 

When you have known them for a few months or preferably longer then ask when the conversation is on a similar subject. Or better still say " I am (your nationality, race and perhaps some of your personal history)"  then you could ask them "where do you come from?"

 

Just out right asking people you are only acquainted with on the level you describe is not actually polite in my book. As a child I was taught not to ask this sort of personal question of anyone unless we were very good friends.

 

 

 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
35 minutes ago, Lu said:

But a cashier sees hundreds of people every day, and might not be up for telling all of them where she is from, how long she has been here, etcetera.

More probably she has been asked the same question a thousand times before and is completely sick of it.

 

That was my experience from living in China when I was the one always being asked this sort of question.  My favourite response to being asked by a local Chinese person what country I was from was to tell them, and then ask them back with 100% seriousness 你呢?  It was always fun to watch them try to figure out if I was being serious or not.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...