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Mijin

Social faux pas regarding "huang dian ying"

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Mijin

I was in a meeting with 3 colleagues (luckily not superiors)

We were talking about the spring festival TV show. One colleague said "It was really good this year, because they wanted to encourage couples to have a second baby".
So obviously the logic of that is a bit weird, so I responded "哦,他们放了一部黄电影吗?" And everyone looked shocked and I had to explain it was just a joke.
I'm not exactly sure why, but I guess it's a swear word or just really something to not even name in polite conversation? My first faux pas in a while.

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DavyJonesLocker

Similar to English, you don't randomly mention porn unless you know how it will be perceived. You certainly wouldnt say it amongst polite company in your home country I assume. 

 

In general i think Chinese tend to avoid direct references to things like that as  compared to compared to many western countries, especially openly or in mixed company. Pretty sweeping generalisation especially when you see some of the filth written on forums and some of the propositions girls get on wechat. 

 

PS I probably would have laughed at your comment though 😎

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Lu

黄电影 means porn. Not something to discuss in polite conversation. You really need to know your audience before bringing it up. Isn't that the case in most countries, though?

 

For what it's worth, I find your joke funny (when not at work).

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amytheorangutan

Yeah I wouldn’t say that in my office either unless I know the people pretty well and that my joke will be well received. 

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Mijin

Thanks for the responses. I would say in my native Britain that kind of joke would be normal office banter.

Talking *about* porn of course is inappropriate, but just referencing it for a throwaway joke would be fine. But yeah, I should have known there was some risk.

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DavyJonesLocker
1 minute ago, Mijin said:

Thanks for the responses. I would say in my native Britain that kind of joke would be normal banter.

Talking *about* porn of course is inappropriate, but just referencing it for a throwaway joke would be fine. But yeah, I should have known there was some risk.

 

I agree , I've heard dozens of comments like that in the companies I've worked in London. You have to gauge the situation right? Over the years here in China I have learned to "tone it down" a lot, especially given I'm a product of a 70s generation. 

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889

I have learned through hard experience that a remark like that will be taken literally, at least when spoken by a foreigner.

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roddy

And repeated widely, throughout the company, as an example of what all foreigners are like.

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Flickserve

A good rule of thumb is to listen if somebody else makes that sort of joke first and then you'll know you can use it in front of them a future time.

 

But yeah, not out of place if you are from the UK.

 

Sorta destroys that British gentleman image .. Lol.

 

BTW, thanks for teaching me some new Chinese vocabulary.

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Mijin

As much as I regret saying it, it's funny thinking about it because one of the colleagues started the sentence "We do not show such things..." when I interrupted to explain it was a joke. 

So they actually thought I was making the suggestion that Chinese state TV should show an adult movie during the most watched show of the year. 😂

Maybe that's the problem? It's not a joke about porn, it is simply absurdist humour, but maybe that's not really a thing in China?

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amytheorangutan

I must be working in the most polite company in London haha I don't think I've heard porn joke so far in my 2.5 years in my current company. I've heard and said pretty offensive jokes much worse than that in my previous company also in London but only to a few people in my team that I knew very well. Definitely not to people outside of my team that I rarely talk to. 

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imron
34 minutes ago, amytheorangutan said:

I don't think I've heard porn joke so far in my 2.5 years in my current company.

See if you can find and watch the TV series 'Coupling'.

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amytheorangutan
6 minutes ago, imron said:

See if you can find and watch the TV series 'Coupling'.

Thanks for the tips @imron Never even knew Steven Moffat did this 😃

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Mijin

Again, I don't even think of it as a dirty joke in any sense. The humor is as if they would do that and I am poking fun at my colleague's somewhat cryptic statement.

But it seems my humor is really warped if fellow westerners even don't agree.  

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li3wei1

I would have laughed at, or made, that joke, but I am often told that I've gone over the bounds of respectability. The British have a rich tradition of saucy innuendo humour, so it's more likely to be understood in that context. They're also more comfortable with absurdism than many other countries, I believe.

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Flickserve
2 hours ago, Mijin said:

Maybe that's the problem? It's not a joke about porn, it is simply absurdist humour, but maybe that's not really a thing in China?

 

I think you can but you got the timing and company wrong. Maybe, just maybe if you were chinese, the joke would have been alright and totally understood.

 

And although these were your colleagues, are they really the sort of personalities to have a banter with? If they were girls, then that’s even less leeway. 

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889

Problem is, acknowledging they get the joke means acknowledging they have a working knowledge of what 黄电影 is. As said, this could be especially difficult either in a mixed group or an all-male group with a broad age range.

 

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陳德聰

I feel like if you preface it with a bit more context it can be easier to understand. I didn’t get it at first, because I didn’t see the connection between porn and encouraging a second child, and to be frank I came into it with an assumption that you might not know what 黄 means. Sorry for being biased :(

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Mijin

Well I'm not really intending to tell that kind of joke again! 

Really I feel like I want to explain the joke to them because I feel their reaction was like if I said "hey, let's have a conversation about porn!" But trying to explain will likely make things worse. 

I have a regular meeting with these colleagues so I may simply say "I used the wrong word in a previous meeting and the meaning you got was not what I intended to say. Sorry for any embarrassment".

 

BTW topics that these colleagues have brought up in the past include periods, abortions and let's just say sensitive events in China's recent history. But just mentioning the word porn is too much... go figure.

 

 

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