Chinese Manners and Taboos.

29/06/2011
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Chinese people are usually easy to deal with. However, sometimes though, cultural differences can give rise to difficulties.

Here are some taboos of which foreigners may be unaware.

Good manners:

1. To hold a rice bowl politely  rather than let it remain on the table as in Western dining etiquette. Your thumb should rest on the rim of the bowl while the bottom of the bowl is supported by your index, middle, and ring fingers.

2. When helping yourself to food placed on the table (on platters, etc.), always take from the side nearest you. It is considered ill-mannered to take food from the side of the platter facing others, and it is considered outright uncouth to “dig for treasures” as the Chinese put it, or to “cherry pick” for choice morsels as one would say in English.

3. Don’t tap your chopsticks on your bowl. It is not only an impolite sign of impatience, it is also done by beggars in the street to attract attention.

4. Don’t plant your chopsticks into your rice bowl pointing straight upward, unless you want your fellow diners to think you wish them dead. Because pairs of incense sticks are placed like this next to graves.

5. Some Chinese are conservative and don’t go in for hugging. So you’d better shake hands when greeting at the first time to avoid giving offence.

Language and color taboos:

1.The Chinese word for “8”(ba) sounds similar to a word “发 fa” for prosperity, whilst the numver “4” (si) shares the same sound as “死 si” for death. This is why people are willing to pay more for every kind of numbers containing a lot of 8s and avoide 4s as far as possible.

2. The Chinese word “钟 zhong”(clock) has the same pronunciation as the word “终zhong” (end). And giving a clock as a gift (送钟 song zhong) sounds like being present at the bedside when a person takes his last breath (送终 song zhong). So don’t ever give a Chinese a clock, even if it’s a really nice one.

3.Don’t offer to share your pear, especially with your friend, family or lovers. “分梨 fen li”(share pear) sounds the same as “分离 fen li”(parting), a sad occurrence to be avoided as much as possible.

4. In China, “green hat” often refers to a man whose wife is cheating on him. In the unlikely event of you wanting to give your Chinese friend a hat, steer clear of green.