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Larry Language Lover

Chinese Small Talk?

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Dawei3
22 hours ago, jannesan said:

Can't you just say 你是中国哪里人?

You can try this & see the response.  I just found that 你是国内中国哪里人? seems to work the best to get the response I want.  I have used 你是果果哪里人, but I don't remember why I didn't keep using it.  

 

The groups I interact with while in China often have people from all across China, so I usually don't assume they are from the city that I'm visiting (unless I hear something in their accent).  Taiwan could be different since it's politically important whether or not they are Taiwanese.  (And in mainland China, I'm using the question of "where are you from" mainly as a conversation starter, i.e., small talk.  It triggers so many different opportunities for discussion).      

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889

"Then after that, I will apologise for my lack of good Chinese because of xyz reason "

 

Keep fishing for compliments like that and someday you may run into somebody who won't play along:

 

"You're right! Your Chinese sucks. Let's stick to English."

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realmayo
10 hours ago, suMMit said:

Personally i cant wait til the day i can reply: "F**ckin' A right I do brother, its taken me a lot of work, but yeah, its not too shabby"😄

 

Actually in Chinese that's 哪里哪里, depending on who you're talking too and the size of the grin on your face.

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Flickserve
4 hours ago, 889 said:

Keep fishing for compliments like that and someday you may run into somebody who won't play along:


I guess that depends whether you are on an ego trip about languages or just there to talk to people because you have met them. For me, it is not a problem to use the strongest common language between the two.

 

There are plenty of people without fluent English. 

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889

I didn't mean they'd necessarily switch to English, just tell you the awful unvarnished truth about your Chinese.

 

(Hasn't happened to me in Chinese yet, but has in French.)

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Flickserve
17 minutes ago, 889 said:

 

I didn't mean they'd necessarily switch to English, just tell you the awful unvarnished truth about your Chinese.

 


LOL. I don’t have a problem with that. I have already had a lot of experience with Cantonese. 

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Dawei3
20 hours ago, Flickserve said:

For me, it is not a problem to use the strongest common language between the two.

With my Chinese friends, I find it fun to switch back & forth between languages.  Or I'll speak in Chinese and my Chinese friend will reply in English.  

 

This said, for issues above our ability, we revert to our native languages.  

 

On 11/4/2019 at 1:10 PM, realmayo said:

哪里哪里,

This is a phrase I learned very early in my studies, but then I was told "Chinese people never say that."  Then I stopped saying it.  However, it some situations I've heard often (i.e., I was at a technical conference organized by volunteers.  When others complimented them on the conference or said 幸苦, I constantly heard  all-day-long 哪里哪里 from native Chinese.

 

Similarly, david387 noted using 吃过了吗? as an opener.  This was another phrase I learned early on.  Then a group of Chinese colleagues had an earnest discussion with me to explain "Chinese people never say that now.  It dates back to when food wasn't readily available in China."  When I explained a Chinese had taught me it, they replied "Only old people would say that."  Then a 28 yr old woman called me at 9 pm and she opened the call with 吃过了吗? I said "did you just say that because I'm a foreigner?"  Dumbfounded, she said "no, I say it all the time."  Many other Chinese say it too (包括年轻人) . 

 

I mention this because new learners may also get this response ("Chinese people never say xxx"), yet you'll find out "yes, people do say it."  If people would say to me "In my part of the country, people don't say that...", I could understand.  Or if they said, "in this situation, I wouldn't say it...."  It's the categorical "Chinese never say that" that is bothersome (because it's clearly not true). 

 

Hence, 吃过了吗? is fine to use (and fun to use).  I use 哪里哪里 rarely.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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大块头
6 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

Then a 28 yr old woman called me at 9 pm and she opened the call with 吃过了吗?

 

A former Chinese flatmate (also a woman in her late twenties) started greeting me when I came home by saying (in English) "Have you eaten?" I was unaware of the particular Chinese greeting she was translating directly... I thought she was offering me something to eat or thought I was too skinny!

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大块头
On 11/4/2019 at 3:34 AM, imron said:

跟你比还差一点 is not really being humble, it's being a smart-aleck.

 

"Compared with you (my Chinese) is still a little poor."

 

Is there another layer of meaning I'm missing? You're just saying that their Chinese is better than yours...

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jannesan
6 hours ago, 大块头 said:

Is there another layer of meaning I'm missing? You're just saying that their Chinese is better than yours...

 

I think the point is it is better by "just a little", which is not a humble thing to say

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imron
5 hours ago, 大块头 said:

"Compared with you (my Chinese) is still a little poor."

It's more like "not quite as good as yours", which is like "well duh.. of course not", but that then serves as a direct contrast to the compliment they just gave.

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DavyJonesLocker
On 11/4/2019 at 6:23 PM, Wurstmann said:

On the topic of things Chinese people never say outside of textbooks, I recently found my first 马马虎虎 in the wild:

 

 

I was curious, .. it ranks as 20,613 most frequent on the Subtitle Frequency list. :D

 

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Lu
On 11/6/2019 at 5:34 PM, imron said:

It's more like "not quite as good as yours", which is like "well duh.. of course not", but that then serves as a direct contrast to the compliment they just gave.

I've occasionally used 你的也不错 when the compliment is completely out of thin air (me talking to another foreign friend at a traffic light, guy on motorcycle also waiting compliments us). Both serious (dude there is no need for pointless compliments) and jokey (haha I just complimented the native speaker).

 

还差的远啊 usually gets me more compliments (Wow you even know that phrase!). 学了好久了 works well for me. I use 哪里哪里 only half-ironically (it does work); 还行啦 also works well.

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Dawei3
4 hours ago, Lu said:

还差的远啊 usually gets me more compliments (Wow you even know that phrase!). 学了好久了 works well for me

Excellent!  New things to say.  Dank u!  (Now if I can only remember them....)  It's helpful to have many ways to say this since I may be in situations when I'm meeting many different Chinese for the 1st time & I don't want to say the same thing every time.

 

For compliments, I also use:  你过奖了。 

 

This is a great topic.  Many thanks to Larry for initiating it.  

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