Not taking no (or BuYao) for an answer

I have a question. I am wonderring if anyone knows why people do this or has it happen to them all the time too.
When I go to get food, people always ask if I want a bag, soup, a drink, ect. Which is, of course, normal. But what doesn’t seem normal to me (and is actually kind of irritating) is that if I say BuYao, they ask again. If I shake my head no, they ask again. Just about every time this happens, they wind up dragging me over to point at the soup as they say again that I can have soup. To which I always say that I have already said I don’t want it. Or if they ask if I want something cut up. And I say no. They grab a knife and make cutting gestures and then look at me. Like I am going to change my mind now that I have seen the knife. “Of, shit, you are right. I DO want it cut up”. Same thing with drinks. I say BuYao, they drag me over to the tea thing and show me that tea comes out.
I know this is a silly thing to ask about, but on some areas I find it really annoying (I don’t want a bag because I eat out all the freaking time and frankly don’t want to throw away 1000 plastic bags a year.) on other areas I don’t care as much (they force me to take the soup, I just don’t eat it. They force me to take the tea, I just don’t drink it.)
I mention this because I went to get Orange Juice for my breakfast. I said I don’t want sugar. She argued with me. She said “It is more delicious with sugar” and I said “I don’t want sugar” and she said “This?” and held up sugar. and I said “COrrect, don’t want” (all this, of course, in chinese) and she said “It is bad without sugar” and put sugar in it. Which, of course, I refused to take because if I wanted sugar in my OJ I would go buy it at 7-11 for a whole lot less money.

(long rant huh?)

So why do people not take no for an answer?

And before anyone says that they just don’t think I know what they are talking about, people who I have spoken to 100 times who know I speak chinese still do this to me. There is a guy at my favourite LuWei stand who I won’t buy from if he is there. Because I will tell him I don’t want it too spicy and he will say “But you like spicy food” and I will say “that is already too spicy” and he will keep scooping on the spicy and say “No, it is not spicy enough for you yet”.
I don’t understand!!!

So why do people not take no for an answer?[/quote]Because they really do know better than you what you want. :wink:

Someone told me a while ago that simply saying “Bu yao” is impolite.

Try Bu yong le, xie xie"

“It’s not necessary, thank you.”

Thanks, JD. My Fobishness hasn’t learned those little important bits of manners yet.
(not sarcasm)

Do you spit the bu yao out like sugar you don’t want.

Maybe your too far away from the pronunciation.

It does happen to me as well, my Chinese is crap. I then run straight through another 4 or 5 forms of no. That works.

No idea. Just making a suggestion.

What places are you going to? I’ve generally found that a “buyao/buyong, xie-xie” and a smile gets me through the days quite well without creepy old tarts dumping sugar into my drinks or lobbin’ a scimtar at my food.

SAF, ???

Is a more polite way to say “No, thank you” according to my teacher, bu yao is a little bit childish and can be taken as you being impolite. I never use bu yao, unless it is with people I know; or unless I am frustrated at someone.

It’s the difference between " No thank you" and “NO!”

Hope this helps,



Edit - looks like we were all repling at the same time!

This situation is occuring because the person is assuming that you don’t clearly understand him/her. I would surmise that this is either because:

A) You are a foreigner.
B) Your Chinese is not standard, and the person detects it.

I get the treatment you’re describing from time to time, but not too often. The trick is to say “bu yao,” shake your head, and look down. This is the Taiwanese body language equivalent of “Hell no, and don’t ask again” and you’ll regularly see it used by folks here. Works most of the time the first time.

Incidentally, “bu yao” is not necessarily impolite. Your inflection is probably more important than the use of the phrase.

Good luck.

I’m going to have to change to yong now after reading this and checking just now with my Chinese speaking portable projector screen.

A Chinese business man told me to use yao. He is probably a crude bastard.

I had been using yong before that.

Thanks Limey, Jd and Fob.

Jefferson – Good point about the inflection. I assume much of the time that when I speak a foreign language there will be moments when I say something a bit off from my intended inflection (e.g., more angry, sarcastic, etc.). I’ve found that throwing a “xie xie” at the end of these helps a lot when refusing extras being offered up.

Maybe it’s like your own Twilight Zone Taiwan: “Everywhere I go, they keep asking me again. Everywhere I go…”

Okay, try this:

  1. Don’t say “buyao” or “buyong” or anything like that. You want to go with a straight “xiexie”, but do it while obviously shaking your head “No,” and smiling.

  2. Reinforce this with the “no” hand gesture – hand in front of you, palm straight up and down away from you, fingers spread just slightly, moving the hand back and forth (left and right) as though waving. (Ask somebody over there if you can’t picture it.)

  3. If you still get whatever it is, just don’t go there again. There are some people who insist on this sort of thing. I had one years back who insisted on putting the disgusting barbecue sauce on my veggies, but unfortunately this was in the sticks and on Friday night about 10, she was the only game in town.

I know it isn’t my inflection, because everyone tells me my tones are perfect. (I just can’t say R or ZH worth a shit). I usually use the whole Sentence “BuYao ____, XieXie.” I, on one hand, think that they figure I don’t know what they are talking about. But on the other hand, I have had this happen with friends also.
I once had an annoying lady in XiMenDing and my annoying boyfriend (who was supposed to be translating but pissing me off instead) both arguing with me about putting condensed milk on my strawberries. I said I did not want (In English, to him) and he told her. She told him it would taste better. he told me. I told him I did not like it. He told her. She told him it would taste better with it. He told me that she was right and I should try it. I told him I had tried it, that I prefer the taste of fruit to the taste of sugar. HE told her that. She told him that it tastes better with the condensed milk. This went on for like 10 minutes, finally I got strawberries with condensed milk that made their way directly into the trash can because he wouldn’t eat them because they were too sweet. (and I am the one who hates sugar) :raspberry:
I had another lady argue through another friend about putting chocolate on my coffee. He said I didn’t want it, she said it tastes better that way.
I don’t get it. But I am kinda glad to know I am the only one. This way at least I know I am a little :loco:

Or it could be a cultural thing…

When trying to give something to someone, they often say, “Mei guanxi” until it’s polite for them to take it. Otherwise it makes you look greedy. If they are used to being turned down before finally taken on their offer, then that when you really do mean “no”, they’re still thinking that you are just being polite. Just my take on it.

Incidentally, the only people I hear saying “bu yao” are kids. I’ve learned the “bu yong” thing after coming here in picking up Taiwanese Mandarin…is “bu yao” a Beijing/Mainland thing?

I’m channeling a voice from the beyond:


end of message


SAF, you can also add a ? (le) at the end of the sentence. This implies that it is the end on the matter.

" bu yong le" - “I don’t want it (don’t ask again)”

(Please tell me if you can see the chinese charachters in this post and my previous one, as all I get is question marks)


I don’t really want to be rude about it. Honestly, most the time I think it is funny. But when I am trying to cut back on coffee and those hookers but SUGAR IN MYORANGEEJUIIIICEEEEE… gaspbreathgasp
Kidding. Of course.

I can’t see your Le. And I support chinese. Must be the board.
I proposed this to my stinky man today. He said “You just don’t understand chinese culture”

He said he thinks it is because I look like a kid and they just want to play with me. I think he is crazy. I will ask someone else tomorrow.

I get this sometimes, but as my Chinese has improved so has the incidence of this kind of situation happening.

What I really hate is when I speak OK Chinese when ordering food, even perhaps have a small conversation, the laoban deems it necessary to use his fingers to express how much the item is.

And he speaks really slowly:

Lian - Bai wu - shi quai - holding up two fingers on one hand and five on the other.

What? Did you think that I would pick up the words used for shopping but somehow find it unnecessary to learn numbers?

OK, so it’s not really serious. Just one of those petty annoyances you find within the whole Taiwan experience.

Foreigners who speak Chinese can’t count.

I know exactly what you mean, DM. What’s even funnier is when you have a 5 minute conversation with someone in Chinese, and then the person, instead of saying “da,” says “big, you know?” That sort of thing used to frustrate me a lot. Not really anymore. I just go into a Bill Murray deadpan routine.

Sometimes I think I’m living in an alternate reality, where I’m treated normally most of the time, but then get an out of the blue freak show reaction. But I’ve been through it all so many times it’s really par for the course these days. Amazing just how much the mind can adapt to (and accept) over a number of years! You know? :wink:

SAF, I know what you’re up against. You should hear my Taiwanese mother-in-law.

[in Chinese]
“Do you want some guava?” No, thank you.
5 minutes later.
“Do you want some guava?” No, thank you.
5 minutes later.
“Do you want some guava?” No, thank you.
5 minutes later.
“Here is some guava.” Thank you.