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China Survival Guide

Flickr Photo: 21856521@N07

Useful Phrases:
English - Pin Yin [pronunciation] - Chinese Characters
  • Hello - Nǐ hǎo [Nee Haow] - 你好(adding "Ma" turns it into "How are you")
  • How are you? - Nǐ hǎo ma? [Nee Haow Maa]- 你好吗? 
  • I'm good - Hǎo - [Haow] - 
  • I'm not good - bùhǎo - [Boo-haow] - 不好 (bù is "no" or "not")
  • Thank you - Xièxie - [Xeyeah-xeyeah] - 谢谢
  • I'm Sorry - Duìbuqǐ - [dway boo chee] - 对不起
  • Goodbye - Zài jiàn - [Zhay Jee-en] - 再见
  • Where is - ... zài nali [zhay-naa-lee] - …在哪里 (the place/object goes in front of "zài nali":
The toilet - Cèsuo... [tzee-swor] - 厕所...
The hospital - Yīyuàn... [yeeyuun] - 医院...
The police station - Jǐngchá jú... [jing tsha jew] - 警察局...
  • Can you help me? - nǐ néng bāngzhù wǒ ma? [Nee nehng barng jor war mah? - 你能帮助我吗?
  • How much? - Duōshao qián? [Dwor-shao-chyen] - 多少钱
  • 1 - yī [Yee] - 一
  • 2 - èr [Err] - 二
  • 3 - sān [Saan] - 三
  • 4 - sì [suh] - 四
  • 5 - wǔ - [woo] - 五
  • 6 - liù [ lyo] - 六
  • 7 - qī [cheh] - 七
  • 8 - bā [bah] - 八
  • 9 - jiǔ [jyo]  - 九
  • 10 - shí [sher] -  十
Social Etiquette:
  • Chinese culture is a hierarchy based culture so the oldest person should be greeted first as a sign of respect.
  • Never put chopsticks upright in your bowl. This symbolises death as incense candles are placed like this.
  • The number 4 is considered unlucky as both the words "four" and "death" sound similar. On the other hand, the number 8 is lucky as "fortune" has a similar pronunciation.
  • Always present and  receive gifts with both hands. 
  • When receiving busines cards always have a look at the card (never immediatly put it away) and do not place in your back pocket as that is considered sitting on someone. 
  •  It is best not to unwrap gifts or lucky red envelopes in front of the gift giver. However if you're unsure, ask for permission.
  • Never wrap presents or give cards in white wrapping paper/envelopes as white symbolises death. The best colours would be yellow or red.
  • Do not be surprised or angered by personal questions, such as marital status and age. This is very common and is a sign of interest in another.
  • Unless you know the individual well and they have verbally communicated it is okay do not hug or back slap them.
  • When pouring drinks it is considered respectful to pour other people's drinks first. Ideally the oldest or most important person first and ending with yourself. 

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