"sounds like" no-nos in Mandarin

I’m sure most of ya’ll are familiar with the taboo of 4 here, it sounding like the word for “death”. I thought it’d be interesting if we could form a list or discussion of more of these “sounds like” no-nos as I’ve found there are many more.

Off the top of my head, I was scolded not long ago when I jokingly called a female friend a chicken, or rather a “big chicken” in Mandarin. It didn’t seem to have much effect when said in English but when I reverted to saying it in Chinese I nearly lost an eye from the objects thrown at me. I’d known previously that “whore” and “prostitute” were of simliar sound to “chicken” but how was I to know that the word “chicken” was offensive when used toward another person?

I remember hearing others of this sort, none coming immediately to mind. Anyone care to comment and/or add to the list?

I nearly copped a backhander a few weeks ago when a called a friends baby “hen zhong” (heavy). Silly me, I thought it was a compliment, be all the women were onto me like Taiwanese grandma onto fallen far piao. Don’t ask me why, not even the chinese guy I was with knew either. Perhaps “pung” might have been the Taiwanese ‘correct’ word.

Another one. When I livedback in Aus, my girlfriends parents would really find it difficult calling me on my mobile. Reason. My number . 0414 844442 :smiling_imp: They wanted me to change it, but I thought it was tooooo easy to remember.

No vehicle registration marks containing more than two "4"s were ever issued in HKG.

Very interesting! Thanks, hexuan! :wink:

What happens when you’re one year older than 43? How do you report your age?

Here are a few you want to avoid:

Calling a man a duck (Ya), unless you know he is a male prostitute.

Giving someone a clock as a gift, because Song Zhong sounds just like being present at someone’s death bed or funeral.

Bringing pears to someone’s wedding, because Sheng Li has the same sound as “apart while living” (as in Sheng Li Si Bie).

Wow, those are great! Thanks, jameswang! :wink:

Don’t comment on a guys green hat… a men who is said to ‘wear a green hat’ (dai4 lu4 mao4zi) means his wife’s cheating on him… not a good gift, except among good friends… :stuck_out_tongue:

Pears shouldn’t be split by 2 people (fen1 li2 = split apart). But this could be avoided by cutting the pair on a cloth (bu4 fen1 li2 = won’t split apart).

This strikes me as kind of odd… :unamused:

If you were born in the year of Tiger, don’t go near the bride or the couple’s house when you attend the wedding

When you attend the funeral, wear white from top to toe (I mean literally) and no make-ups.

When your Chinese frieds say “please come to see us again”, don’t take it seriously. It’s the same as we say “I’ll call you”. :smiley:

If you work for a Taiwanese/Chinese corporation, you are not supposed to take any day off in your first year even though you are entitled for 2-week vacation days. Why? I’ve got no clue. It’s too late for me! :imp:

I’m curious, Crunchnumber, who are you talking about when you say “we”? Where are you from? Europe, or perhaps Singapore? You’re obviously not a native English speaker, and you write a lot like a Taiwanese as far as grammar mistakes, etc., go, but you still list “We’ll call you” as an example of what “we” say. I didn’t know that Europeans said that. Interesting.

Crunchnumber, you must be looking at a different set of labor standards laws than me, because according to mine, no paid vacation in the first year, seven days in the second and one additional for each subsequent year of service.

Can you post a link to your information?

Poa-Poa, I’ll show mine if you will show yours? :unamused: You can be what you want to be (U.S. Navy commercial)! :stuck_out_tongue:

Sandie man, what you described applies to the public sectors and government agencies. I work for a private company that follows the labor laws designed by the Departmetn of Labor. I dunno their Website. Sorrie.

For foreigners: When referring to pens (bi), please make sure to give them their proper 3rd tone. The other day I overheard an American man say ask a Chinese woman: “Ni you mei you bi?” (“do you have a pen?”), but by pronouncing it as bi (1st tone), he inadvertently asked “do you have a c*nt?” - Silly question.

Also, for Italians, please try not to shout “ciao” when you meet or part with your friends, as it sounds a little too much like the Chinese word “cao” (“f*ck.”)

Actually, I don’t think anyone in Taiwan knows or uses ‘bi’ with a first tone. But you definitely have to watch that one over in Commie China!

Excuse me miss, could I use your ‘bi’? It would only take a moment… Not a good thing.

[quote]no paid vacation in the first year, seven days in the second and one additional for each subsequent year of service.

Well I work for a multi-national in Taiwan and it’s as Sandman describes, no paid holidays in the first year, seven in the second etc, although you can take the second years holiday in the first year…presumably you eventually pay it off in your last year by not getting any or something…

Crunchie, do yourself a favour and try to get your facts straight before you post. As my dear old dad says: “Don’t open your mouth and let your belly rumble.”

There is no “Department of Labor” here – perhaps you are thinking of the Council of Labor Affairs, which is responsible for drawing up the Labor Standard Law, which, as the name suggests, is … ahem … a standard. There isn’t one set of labor laws for engineers, one set for magazine editors, one set for right-handed people, etc.

Sounds like one of your colleagues was taking the piss out of you and you fell for it. :wink:

Sandie man man,

I work for a multi-national company and do get two-week vacation the first year (it says on my paychecks and I’ve taken two hours off). I tried to bargain with the HR, but he told me it’s the standard set by Council of Labor Affairs and he has to follow it. Sure, with no knowledge whatsoever when it comes to CLA, I went with it. Darn it, shoud’ve put up with a fight. Sure enough, a standard is a standard, whether the corporations follow it is another issue.

Some people I know work for public university and government agency got no vacation days the first year and seven days the second year, like you described. Now why would they lie to me about something trivia like vacation days? Why would your company try to screw you over your vacation days? As my mama once told me “don’t believe everything you hear, use your own judgement.” :wink:


The CLA regulations are MINIMUM requirements. Of course, if a company wants to offer more, that’s up to them. They just cannot offer less than the CLA-mandated minimum.

So, if your HR officer is telling you that you can’t take a vacation because the CLA forbids him to give you time off, he’s talking out of his butt. If it says you can have two weeks on your paycheck, I’d suggest asking why you can’t have it. I’d also suggest asking the HR person to show you a copy of the rule that says you can’t have it. If its a multinational, they will have a copy of the relevant rules, probably printed in English.