How do you feel about being called wàiguó rén 外國人?

Apologies if this topic has been already covered.

How do you feel about being called this? I don’t think it’s particularly respectful, but would you view it as neutral or disrespectful?

Context: sure we all hear it from time to time. Kids say it in front of their parents and I hear it often in very “local” settings such as in the countryside or markets. It usually doesn’t bother me. However, today it did.
Shopping for a new phone at a flagship store where I’m about to pop down NTD15,000+ on a mid-range phone I overheard the manager refer to me as 外國人 to her subordinate. Fine. I let it go. Then after when I’m supposedly out of earshot again, subordinates to each other. And again, and again. Laughing and giggling.
Here’s the rub, everyone spoke close to fluent English in that shop (6 people I interacted with). After the 7th or 8th time, I walked out. I had money in hand and had picked out my phone.

Am I being particularly thin skinned? I just felt that as paying customer on a big ticket item there might have been a more polite or respectful way of referring to me.

thanks for any replies.


What does it mean?


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lets see how this goes :popcorn:

In which case it’s a disgrace. I’d always assumed it meant Big Nose Person, which in my case I considered to be a knowing compliment.

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humm, I have a huge schnoz, even by western standards.
Disgrace, me or them?


You are feeling insulted over a fact. You are not from Taiwan. You are from outside of Taiwan.


I do not miss being pointed at and singled out every single day I lived in Taiwan.

But if you’re young and clubbing it’s just fine.


I get 外國人‘d a lot, despite being and sounding local as hell. It grates on me, and I find it (and outright questions about my race, which I get pretty often) unprofessional.

But I generally forgive people knowing they are just really, really bored. God, are they bored.


I hear it all the time and rarely is it meant to be harmful. Usually it’s used to be helpful or just to let someone better understand the situation. Is all depends on context.

Need to listen to the adjectives or just observe. It’s a good way to practice observing body language.

Besides, Taiwanese aren’t normally out to abuse, shame, joke about you.


And $15k on a phone isn’t a “big ticket.”


I agree with what you say. it’s a fact.
But as a paying customer shouldn’t sales people be a little more discreet and respectful, if they want to make a sale. Or is this my own culture seeping through.


If they were laughing derisively at you or something, then that’s pretty bad customer service. But I’d wager they were just talking and laughing about how bad their English is and how hard it is for them to interact with foreigners, generally.


Happens all the time, I dont really care, its the intent that counts, and its not bad intent.

Its just a fact.

Also they think we wont understand, so they are not being rude. If they called you foreigner in english, then it might be different.

Maybe you don’t have to view it negatively. Maybe they thought you were handsome.

thx. Consensus appears to be that I should have let it go and just bought the phone.
my bad.

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lol yeah pretty much. Go back to the same shop and get the phone. Pretend like you’ve never met them. Ask the exact questions you asked last time.

They won’t even notice, all foreigners look the same :wink:


and we all know each other too.

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Brilliant! The most exciting moment of their day is seeing someone who looks different.

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