英语畅谈中国文化 50 主题 第 22 章 Personal Privacy vsHospitality 隐私与亲密
A: I don’t like my Chinese friends calling me Lao Wai. It makes me feel that I am not one of them. B: Actually, Chinese people
want to treat you as one of us. The word lao always implies respect and closeness when used to address someone. For example, senior people are often addressed as lao Wang or lao Li.
A: I see. Many people are learning English nowadays because of the Olympics. But it’s a bit weird to hear people say “hello” to me in the street. That’s the word you use to answer phone. So it feels like everybody in the street is on the phone. B: Chinese people are friendly. We are also curious about people from afar. What you’ve just said is an example of such a feeling.
A: But occasionally, some people tend to be over enthusiastic. I was reading in a subway one hot summer day when a young man looked at my arm and asked, “Don’t you feel hot with so much hair on your arm?” I have a five-year-old son and sometimes people like to touch his face or even hold him up in the arms. He doesn’t like that so I have to explain to him it’s the Chinese way of showing affection. Another time, I was reading a newspaper in a subway, and a person suddenly poked his head over my shoulder and helped himself to my paper. B: That’s just like what we read in “A neighbor is more dependable than a distant relative.” Today’s China has evolved from its agricultural origins where there was limited mobility. Those old traditions have given rise to a unique level of human relationship which doesn’t accommodate personal privacy. People treat each other like one big family. The level of closeness is easily visible in everyday greetings such as “Have you eaten?” and “Where are you going?” Even during first encounters, Chinese people may still ask such questions as “are you married?”, “How old are you?” or other questions, which may be very personal to a Westerner.
A: But you should learn to appreciate it rather than feeling offended. B: You’ve got it! This is Chinese hospitality, just like the person who shared your newspaper. I remember some of my Western friends telling me that sometimes they were
either charged less or offer more, when doing their grocery shopping. Again this is all about Chinese hospitality. A: Well, it seems I am an unlucky person because I’ve never been in a situation where people are willing to charge me less.
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