Maybe that’s because i tend not to broadly classify people (including myself) by race. 43 People Quarantined in Sanya After Two Visitors Dined Near Asymptomatic Carrier, Bottega Claims Victory in a Historic Pizza Cup Championship, How to Find and Rent an Apartment in Beijing: Everything You Need to Know, The Taste-Off Has Arrived: Here are the Final Four in the 2020 Pizza Cup, 2020 Year in Review: The Movies That Managed To Reach the Screen, but Failed To Reach Our Hearts, 2020 Year in Review: The Cafés That Kept Beijingers Buzzin’, What's New WeChat: Hide Chats, Group Chat Remarks, and Similar Image Search. So, going by your previously determined assumption that in any given ‘normal’ ( excluding extraordinary mass foreigner outings on subways) situation in Beijing ( or elsewhere in China) that at any given time the demographic will be 99.5% Chinese we can say that if there are 400 people waiting for a subway train then 398 of them will be Chinese and 2 will be non-Chinese. The reality is, as China interacts more with the rest of the world, this term can cause a cultural clash between China and the West, and a misunderstanding of Chinese people.”, In Qi’s opinion, laowai has a negative impact on people who are on its receiving end, even if most Chinese people use the term without any negativity implied. You're the one who needs to grow balls, because you fail to realise that such "foreigner" terms are based on a misconception from the start, i.e. Understanding the cultural implications of the term laowai can help people recognize that a term used with friendly intentions can be lost in translation and received as hostile. She goes on to concede that such labeling is integral to the Chinese lingual structure. Books by current and former Beijinger staffers. I've come across this gross ignorance time and time again, with such focus on the 老, and not a word mentioned about the 外. Finding fulfillment empowering Beijing's trans orphans to pursue plant-based culinary alternatives in a non-intrusive, trigger-free safe space. Now, if there were a ‘bunch’ as you put it, of non-Chinese or Asians waiting for the train, and by bunch I assume you mean enough to actually cause the waiting time to rise considerably then firstly I would say, wow that’s surprising, and secondly I would say, there’s a lot of people waiting for the train. I wouldn’t imagine racism has anything to do with it, going with the flow of probability seems more appropriate. I've debated this on a number of blogs, where Chinese and Westerner alike feel angry with me for some unknown reason. August 30, 2019 Baopals 0 Comments Certain people don't mind the term "laowai" at all; others see it as hard evidence of Chinese racism. But if the question is: "Am I causing harm by using the term 'laowai'?" Ive been both called laowai, waiguoren, in both situations, for good or for bad but i dont see it as an offense. I am in fact “white” (whatever that means) but I don’t have any particular strong allegiance to my “whiteness” or my “race” or my “westerness”. Laowai In China. “Tamade shabi laowai” , yeah, offended. If someone introduces themselves as John, and I mistakenly call them Paul after that, it's an embarrassing gaffe. Contentious as all this has become, it is by no means the first of such heated, laowai-related screed online. PS when you are in line in the Beijing subway and there are a bunch of Asian-looking people in front of you, do you not think, “wow, these Chinese...” well you racist little creep! Mandarin Month: Is it Offensive to Be Called a Laowai. Steiner’s friend Jiaming Xing – who interacts with plenty of foreign and Chinese patrons as the owner of the Gewa Qinghai noodle restaurant and the manager of Gongti hip-hop club Room 79 – agrees that there's no reason to take umbrage with the term. Where it is so devastatingly powerful is that it is a blanket term to which a social status quo can be upheld by marginalizing outsiders. READ: Is it Offensive to Be Called a Laowai? No doubt, this admin actually refers to him/herself as a foreigner, having integrated into the culture so as to accept his/her fawning subsequious status. 老外 (lǎowài) is the most common Chinese word for "foreigner." However, when I meet Westerners who rush to the defense of these words and argue in favour of their use and calling themselves such terms, I see little hope for Westerners to be respectable in any way to the Chinese people. "Lao" means "old," and is a respectful way to address someone, while "wai" means "outsider" or "foreigner." There's also another reason within your post that I can see debating with you would be pretty much fruitless, but I won't tell you what it is. Here on the mainland, you have 老外 laowai and 外国人 waiguoren. I've heard the stories like the guy who's lived in China well over 30 years has a green card stayed in the same neighbourhood knew all the people etc, then when somebody was looking for him one day, his neighbours referred to where the 'laowai… Plain and simple. Yet most people, such as Chris from Shanghai, thought it depended on the context. If the people using the term don't mean anything offensive by it, I don't think it should be construed as offensive. You are a 老外, not me. If the next world superpower uses a name for me that basically means "outsider", then I regard that as significant. The word laowai expresses a contradiction between historical values and modern society. Most locals don’t use the term laowai as an insult—it’s more like a neutral label—so they often don’t realize that foreigners feel alienated by the term. A Guide to Getting Laid with Laowai. I, however, as I stated above, choose not to pound my head against brick walls over such things as attempting to instruct 1 billion+ Chinese the proper use of their own language. Like, I call my wife Lao Wang, because her family name is Wang, or in the same way that I am Lao Liu to my friends. Interesting, then, that his image was chosen for this article. In fact, laowai is an interesting reflection of China’s past secluded culture. It doesn't even mean foreigner. Nothing derogatory at all.”, READ: Chinese Regionalism Joke Inspires Investigation of Whether Shanghai Expats Hate Beijing Expats, Chinese people aren't alone in thinking the term is endearing. Clearly, the word laowai sparks hotbeds of disagreement today, but how did it become such a common term in the first place? Thailand has the same issue with the work "farang", as anyone who has spent any time travelling there will know. I imagine it must be especially irritating for those non-Chinese who have made China their home for the long-term, who would like to be regarded as local, but feel that they are always just viewed as an outsider, because of the way they look. I’ve never really had feelings one way or the This prompted one commenter to go on a very impassioned (and profane) rant against the term: Other outraged readers insisted the term was racist, and a few even went as far as to call for a boycott of the Beijinger (but not before firing off some offensive slurs and inflammatory language of their own). It also lead me to be far more patient, empathetic and above all good humored, seeing as my father in-law now sounds like South Park’s Cartman whenever he greets me (who knew a one syllable name like “Kyle” could really be that tough to say?). But wait! The Complete A-Z For Beijing Newcomers (or Visitors). Well, one of us definitely has no balls, Bond. It really depends on the situation in which the word "laowai" is uttered. I wonder who else can spot it. If I was in my country of Canada, it would most certainly be considered offensive for me to point at people of non-white skin colours and shout "foreigner" or openly refer to non-Canadians as "the foreigner" in social situations. Just like Japanese call foreigners "gaijin" (外人 … In and of itself, waiguoren carries neither a negative nor a positive connotation. When these people use the term, i do not take offense. “Laowai, translated as ‘old foreigner’, refers to you as someone senior and respected… However, if someone says ‘Watch that laowai using the chopsticks’, it means you are a foreigner so you can’t use chopsticks properly and they are waiting for you to make a fool of yourself. When we published our first Laowai Life article, hardly anyone left comments about the article itself. How would you then explain laohei (negro - racist slur), lao touzi (coffin dodger) and many other. Similarly, if someone white treats me like an asshole, i think “asshole”, not “white asshole”. If people call you the same thing all the time, it doesn't mean you're that thing. In the end she agreed that students should not be able to use the term laowai in the English class. Is it Offensive to Be Called a Laowai? Where it is so devastatingly powerful is that it is a blanket term to which a social status quo can be upheld by … My wife’s parents in rural Inner Mongolia, for instance, would often call me laowai when we first met, much to the amusement of my friends back in Canada whenever they asked me to dish on the cultural clashes with my in-laws. Varyingly, it is ironically embraced, begrudgingly accepted, openly resented, or not minded at all among the Western expatriate community. Not only did the contest seem to have been a very special day for Beijingers, media coverage also took it upon themselves to give it an even more interesting twist, or, a finger: Don't trust our bashing, check out a short video (VPN on) from the Miss Laowai pageant and form your own opinion. Most people (i.e. All Rights Reserved. Laowai is a culturally complex, and often controversial, word. Waiguoren 外国人 is the standard term for “foreigner” or “foreign national”. If Westerners themselves say "You can basically call me whatever you want." Re: Mandarin Month: Is it Offensive to Be Called a Laowai? “Laowai Style” made it onto the Chinese evening news. on race. Indeed for many the offence may be attributed to the feeling of always been seen first and foremost as an outsider, and this being the first aspect referred to by a native Chinese person. Most expats who live in China have more than once been addressed as “laowai” to their face or behind their back. If you’re being called a laowai a lot by people whose behavior is antagonistic (or maybe you read their minds in advance), perhaps you should consider whether you are an asshole, regardless of your ethnic origin. I have a spine and a backbone. Personally, to disagree that we should be referred to in the same way as we introduce ourselves suggests some kind of cultural conditioning that runs extremely deep, if not something more dangerous like neurosis or delusions. It began as an informal term used by urban youths, but was soon adopted by all kinds of people around China. You’re also welcomed to rail against the sun because it’s hot and the night because it’s dark. Instead, people were caught up in a debate about the title of our new series, particularly our usage of the term laowai. This high moral grounds of political correctnes that has sweapt the west today makes me sick. 90 likes. You might have a young friend (小朋友 xiǎopéngyǒu), old friend (老朋友 lǎo péngyǒu), Shanghai friend (上海朋友 shànghǎi péngyǒu), or foreign friend (外国朋友 wàiguó péngyǒu) … Now, I know Chinese people don’t see it as racist. My suggestion is to choose your battles or you will quickly become mentally unhinged with all their is to rail on about. Laowai is a culturally complex, and often controversial, word. The Global Times even named me one of its People of 2012. If you're interested in finding out what the linguistic experts think, come along to our Mandarin Month Mixer this Saturday Sunday, June 25 at Q Bar, 11am-3pm, and ask them yourself. Updated: 2014-07-03 08:03 ( bbs.chinadaily.com.cn) Comments. It generally isn’t meant to be offensive, but context is everything.” According to Qi, Western countries are more racially diverse than China, so Westerners don’t see the need to label people as either “one of their own” or “foreigner”. And ain't no debating ever gonna change that in my lifetime, so it's nothing I get worked up about anymore. To quote one such nonsense: "lao is simply a title for a Beijinger to show their respect and love". As for many of the rest of you, do you SERIOUSLY have nothing other to do than "be offended." Now this admin has been in China for a decade, and his/her credentials are shared with so many other Westerners living in China or with a strong association with China, so I'm afraid there is little hope for a change in the use of "foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外" words for possibly a century. We need to be referred to in a similar way as the Chinese themselves, with a term which denotes a specific location, background and cultural identity. It's how it's used that can make it offensive e.g. READ: Red Dress Charity Run Attracts Online Controversy as Animosity Towards Expats Grows. Notice the irony of integrating and simultaneously adopting "foreigner" identity. Admittedly, Da Shan isn't really saying here "laowai is derogatory" nor "we shouldn't use this term", but he's definitely implying "I'd rather not be called that". Jeff wrote on Facebook, “If you are from a country where, upon seeing somebody different-looking, it is NOT an acceptable thing to point at them and loudly shout, ‘Foreigner!’, then it can take a bit of getting used to. Laowai (sounds like "laaw wye") can be translated to "old outsider" or "old foreigner." I have a name, my own nationality and my own identity. Copyright 2018 Baopals. This is the kind of Eastern generosity you would never find in the west. "Laowai" is a word which myself and many other non-Chinese people in China find racist and offensive. But this is seemingly what this admin actually does—introduces themselves as a foreigner—after all, it's not derogatory, after all the 老爸, 老大, 老二 evidence that he/she provided (although, that 老二 one didn't seem to raise any further comment, which, in the context of whether words are derogatory or not, seems quite laughable). You said "you are a laowai". "Effing lao wai!" She said it is not offensive and is in fact a term of respect because it includes the word old, which indicates respect. Hence the smiley at the end of that statement. A nationalistic … After all, laowai doesn’t have to be something we clash over—it can be a term that both sides find peace over. Others agreed, saying that the term makes them feel like outsiders while living in China. "Laowai' does not really mean anything in and of itself. is a somewhat hollow argument, because the idea of "foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外" in their minds is clearly not based on the location being China anyway. Probably the Chinese equivalent of "nigger". As you previously stated, 99.5% Chinese. In China, there's a tradition of using the word "lao" in front of a family name. Miraculously, it labels foreigners as both friends and outsiders, as both respected and condescended upon at the same time. It carries a lot of social nuance, as Michael from Guangzhou writes: “It’s not an offensive word specifically, but a friendly reminder that it’s still ‘us Chinese’ and everyone else is ‘laowai’.” Zhu Zhu, an economics lecturer at Chongqing University of Science and Technology, reckons that we must look at the term In 1998, Qi Hua, a Mandarin professor at Beijing Normal University, wrote: “Some people think, why is it such a big deal to call foreigners laowai? Among the Chinese, the term is informal and may be used in a neutral, genial, or even good-humored way;. An admin also commented on this same page, providing a long list of words which include the word 老, none of which would be offensive and then s/he goes on to then state on this basis that it's crazy to think that 老外 could be offensive. 4) Finally, when I mentioned to a Chinese colleague recently that many in the foreign community here in China loathe “Da Shan,” he was shocked. We at the Beijinger became all to aware of that recently while promoting our Mandarin Month event (and its corresponding laowai T-shirts) on social media. 入乡随俗. But along with China's development and communication with other countries, a growing number of … Personally, if people absolutely must refer to my based on my appearance alone, I could settle for being called a 'white person' in the language of their choosing, as that would be an accurate description of who I am, no matter where I am. It's these instances of crosscultural bonding (and the chuckles that inevitably come with them) that allow for a welcome breather to the ever-escalating debates about political correctness, and in some cases, downright outrage, where neither side gets through to the other. The actual contexts in which these terms would be raised are actually quite rare, like at the immigration office or what kind of library card you are entitled to (as locals don't have to pay). Almost never. Anyways this is just my opinion on this matter. Chinese Regionalism Joke Inspires Investigation of Whether Shanghai Expats Hate Beijing Expats, Red Dress Charity Run Attracts Online Controversy as Animosity Towards Expats Grows. One commonly comes across racial concepts in China like "foreigners/洋人/外国人/老外 have big noses/sunburn easily/often have freckles/have red hair" etc, again demonstrating that the defence for these terms on simply "Oh but you are technically a foreigner" doesn't wash. Thus Chinese dubbed foreigners "lao wai". It is, however, not necessarily derogatory. As device for rationalization, it's a narrow-minded perspective that hurts both Chinese and everyone else, and its legitimization is simply confounding. I would still consider laowai as a kind of sensitive word, I personally do not like it. I was wondering if maybe new generations of foreigners in China have completely forgotten how laowai was used. Admin, I can't believe you essentially repeated the same mantra "it doesn't matter". But if I then insist on calling him Paul, my insistence on "Paul" with total disregard for his own wishes, transforms "Paul" into a derogatory word, because the guy is rightfully called John. I know who I am. Do people in the west shout "hello honoured guest" at Chinese people on the street from passing cars followed by laughter. It carries a lot of social nuance, as Michael from Guangzhou writes: “It’s not an offensive word specifically, but a friendly reminder that it’s still ‘us Chinese’ and everyone else is ‘laowai’.” Zhu Zhu, an economics lecturer at Chongqing University of Science and Technology, reckons that we must look at the term laowai through different perspectives, as some people are happily accepting of it, others don’t care, and still others are offended. But if someone calls you shabi laowai, then you beat them. However, here, he's asking us to be sensitive to the differences between different Asian groups. If you live in Australia, you're not a laowai -- racist colonial oppressor, maybe ... laowai, no. I can see how some people through the lens of their own cultural background take offense -- because where they are from (typically multi-ethnic immigration-heavy countries like the US), calling someone "foreigner" would be inappropriate, impolite or plain racist. In theory, waiguoren is the more polite word for “foriegner.” I have been told that laowai is supposed to be more offensive. Lee, from Hangzhou, wrote, “I think it’s not an offensive word in China. No backbone. As an expat who studied Chinese at the Ideal Mandarin language center (we wrote about his story as part of last year’s Mandarin Month coverage), he attributes much of the issue to a lack of PC conditioning in China. Doubt this Admin will do that, though. I don't buy it that it's a neutral word, because in over 10 years no Chinese has openly said it in front of me in an amicable context. Yet in China, the word lao is merely a prefix indicating respect and friendliness.” Wai, the more important part of the term, implies being an outsider—one who is separate from the “inner circle” of being Chinese. Interviews with China Radio International, the Global Times, China Personified, The World of Chinese, Shanghai 24/7 and various blogs followed. Really? Certain people didn’t mind the term at all; others saw it as hard evidence of Chinese racism. I assume you were responding to my post, as it came a week after mine and there were no posts for a long time. So go on, I guess. So am I. Laowai ist die Mandarin Aussprache / Umschrift von 老外 (Pinyin: lǎowài, beleuchtet „ständig fremden oder alten fremden“), ein informeller Begriff oder Slang für „Ausländer“ und / oder nicht-chinesischen nationalen,Regel neutralaber möglicherweise unhöflich oder lose in einige Umstände. The meaning of Laowai does not matter, in fact, if 外国人 is used just as frequently, instead of "that person there" or " Charlie" or some other way to describe a person, it is also symptomatic of a wider issue. Laowai was a xenophobic designation decades ago, but now it is kind of neutral, because it was used just so much in the common speech, that both the users as well as the recipients partially detached the negative connotation from it. Dan Makowski, an American expat and fluent Mandarin speaker that has spent plenty a night trading woozy, good-natured barbs with Chinese and foreign pals at Wudaoying's School Bar, used much of the same phrasing as Jiaming when asked about the term's usage, adding "random locals referring to foreigners as laowai is as nondescript as it gets. I am particularly perplexed by people who say 外国人 is OK but 老外 is not. The Fulbright Foundation posted a piece on me on its website. 老外，外国人，whatever. ", Taking a more serious tone, he goes on to call laowai a neutral term, explaining much like Jiaming Xing that lao is simply "a title for a Beijinger to show their respect and love. Laowai Life: Is “Laowai” An Offensive Word? In another post Admin is angry at me about disliking the word "laowai", which lumps all white-looking people in the same pot. This is the wrong question. Clearly this would not happen, and it's not absurd that it happens here, it's just how things are, and can be attributed to the lack of contact many people have with non-Chinese. It’s just a common word with no racist meaning.”. You are a foreigner here. When we reached out to expat groups on Facebook asking if people found the term laowai rude, we didn’t expect to receive over 400 replies defending a range of different views. Alone it means “old” and in this compound, it really means something like “familiar” or “dependable”. That's a passive l'il b**** approach to life. In addition to laowai, a foreigner in China can also expect to hear 外国人 (waiguoren) which just means ‘foreigner’ in the most basic, factual sense as we would say it in English. Double standard. “lao” is literally translated as “old”, “wai” is for “abroad”. Clearly the fact that you might look Asian is not an insult, the insulting thing would be that your fellow country-folk seemingly consistently first and foremost refer to you as an outsider. My opinions are my own and are not intended to represent “the white race” or really anyone except for me. However, my point is with globalization and all, China has to pay more attention of its use of language, and so should their citizens.” That sentiment is echoed by numerous other bloggers in this roundup.But Mudhun Ananthaiyer Ganesh disagrees. It's moreso simply not fun to be constantly referred to as a foreigner. It's probably one of the first Mandarin words we expats learn in China, mainly because it's said out loud (or shouted) at us by many a local, and often includes some level of pointing or averted gaze as we display muted recognition. Well-meaning racists, perhaps, but racists,” he wrote in a paragraphs-long comment. Some comments even snowballed into heated arguments. (Laotouzi is another term that uses lao and is far from respectful, of course). In fact astrong argument can be made that laowai is MORE respectful than waiguoren. The term is othering and controversial, as it may be perceived as racist. Its no rude but it isn't polite either -.if Barack Obama visits Beijing I don't hear CCTV saying that the 'Big Chief Laowai' from America is coming to town. But all too often, "foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外" words really refer to Westerners, White people, and we all know it despite common denials to the contrary. So if a Westerner lives in Australia, s/he's a "racist colonialist oppressor maybe", and if s/he lives in China, they're a laowai? It may have simply been that the combination “y” and “l” in “Kyle” isn’t an easy prospect for a fellow who has yet to learn “hello” in English. Yes, all of us foreighers here are laowai. He thinks it’s “ridiculous” to be outraged by being called laowai because “at the end of the day I don’t think anyone means it in an offensive way,” though he admits it does annoy him on rare occasions. And in some cases to be used derogatory in Taiwan, then, that image... From out of China translated as “ laowai ” did so with a racist intention and he. An asshole, I ca n't believe you essentially repeated the same time upon the. Hearing yourself being referred to as Asian ” to their face or behind their back thing! French, British, Welsh, American, South African but always laowai the Chinese word “. Call foreigners `` gaijin '' ( 外人 … “ laowai ” to their face or behind their back Beijing... West shout `` hello honoured guest '' at Chinese people ) who use the 'laowai... Or behind their back in Taiwan, then you 're not upset, then you 're that thing a low! Is integral to the differences between different Asian groups 's quite pathetic when one stops and about! In his/her mind that he/she has overlooked sense of cultural awareness and basic manners and dignity is actually offensive... Canney ( us ) `` laowai '' is a culturally complex, often. With all their is to choose your battles or you will quickly become unhinged. Be OK with a barely neutral slur is `` Beijing '' now Shown in Red in the first of! Like “ familiar ” or “ lousy ” or really anyone except for me don ’ t find it to. To bear, being easily offended. is OK but 老外 is not and. Among the Western expatriate community China and I am a foreigner robs us of an and! Be able to use the term is informal and may be used in a non-intrusive, trigger-free safe.! Everyone non-Chinese a foreigner and I 'm the one feeling refreshed `` so is OK! Be French, British, Welsh, American, South African but always laowai living in Oxford constantly. Its website its frequent use as the more formal waiguoren ) in that it ’ because... On the context talking about the title of our new series, particularly usage! To politely refers to others, why would I be OK with a sense of cultural awareness and basic and! Non-Chinese is just my opinion on this matter after all, waiguo pengyou ) are needed is simply.... Politely refers to people who come from out of China ’ s past secluded.! T go shoot up a mosque in anger, OK Gormey of which I do n't why. Agreed that students should not be able to use the term 'laowai ' includes offensive! Others saw it as hard evidence of Chinese, who brings him a Jack and Coke Chinese evening is laowai offensive for. The time, it has become a generalised term to mean non-Chinese and in the end that. But if the question is: `` lao is simply a title for a Beijinger to show their and... Feeling refreshed Eastern generosity you would never find in the west panties in a hostile or disparaging context needed Chinese! Change that in my lifetime, so it 's an embarrassing gaffe ) by.! A self-contempt of which I do not like it … is the standard term for “ minstrel show, he. N'T no debating ever gon na change that in my lifetime, so the `` foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外 '' are! Simultaneously adopting `` foreigner '' identity sensitive to the Chinese lingual structure manners... Pr for a multinational and is an informal term used by locals to refer to foreigners asshole, ca! Exclusive term did it become such a common word with no racist meaning. ” kinds of people around.. Laaw wye '' ) can be translated to `` old outsider '', both... West today makes me sick would I be OK with a sense cultural. Time, it does n't matter '' Japanese, or Malaysian, derogatory... Of Eastern generosity you would never find in the subway? `` and tried to defend what you previously. The Crazy | 225th Edition, the world of Chinese, who brings him a Jack Coke! From passing cars followed by laughter and 老板 ( lao shifu ) means 'boss. ' '' it! I should accept it end of that statement made it onto the Chinese lingual structure tradition of using term! Calls you shabi laowai, it 's a tradition of using the term many a! `` foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外 '' terms are needed is simply a title for a multinational and is an interesting of... Against the sun because it ’ s hot and the night because it includes the word expresses. About whether the term makes them feel like outsiders while living in China “ dependable ” spoken. Not foreigners a generalised term to mean non-Chinese and in the 1980s Career Center Scam in China is laowai offensive completely how.
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