I'm not that concerned about whether the term 'laowai' includes any offensive words. But along with China's development and communication with other countries, a growing number of … interesting how so many people get "offended " by the term laowai but they still use the "laowai" privilege when they want something done easily. I might add something I didn't mention in my previous post, Da Shan, photographed above said something along the lines of "the only real laowai are those who can't speak Chinese". But calm down and let me explain this term in 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”. This is the wrong question. That's a passive l'il b**** approach to life. "Laowai' does not really mean anything in and of itself. All Rights Reserved. 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. Again, as also stated above, it’s fully within your god-given right to be offended by it, and more power to you in your fight against this word that bugs you so much. (colloquial, sometimes humorous, possibly derogatory or offensive) foreigner, particularly a white Westerner (Classifier: 個 / 个 m) layman; amateur (Classifier: 個 / 个 m) father-in-law (wife's father) Usage notes . Astonishing how different it is to the first demographic hey? In China, "laowai" is an informal term commonly used by locals to refer to foreigners. 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. Laowai, as well as waiguoren, are commonly used terms that in everyday spoken Chinese refer to Caucasian foreigners, but not Asian foreigners or foreigners of African origin. Well, one of us definitely has no balls, Bond. The BBC responded by asking a couple of Chinese members of their staff for their opinion, and they apparently decided that the word "laowai" is not offensive, … This high moral grounds of political correctnes that has sweapt the west today makes me sick. 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. A final common term in China will be 美国人 (meiguoren) which is just American, but it will often be said to British, German, and other white laowais much to their chagrin. Can I never be French, British, Welsh, American, South African but always laowai? Notice the irony of integrating and simultaneously adopting "foreigner" identity. Most people (i.e. In Beijing, 老师傅 (lao shifu) means 'old master,' and 老板 (lao ban) means 'boss.'". 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. If someone introduces themselves as John, and I mistakenly call them Paul after that, it's an embarrassing gaffe. So go on, I guess. Key: <----Mild-----Offensive----> 老内,土老帽,土包子,傻瓜,二百五,白痴,傻冒,村炮,二逼,狗日的,傻逼 . “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. 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. 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. lets look at similiar usages here: 老朋友 - laopengyou - dear friend - inoffensive, 老百姓 - laobaixing - ordinary people / the masses - inoffesive, 老大 - laoda - oldest child, leader - inoffensive, 老乡 - laoxiang - someone frowm your hometown, 老外 - laowai - foreigner - OH GOD SO DEMEANING and BELITTLING and CRUEL and RACIST. 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. This is a contradiction in his/her mind that he/she has overlooked. Then there's Boris Steiner, who works in PR for a multinational and is an investor at a popular Sanlitun bar. ", 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. "So is it OK if I call you laotaitai?" Canney (US) "Laowai" refers to people who come from out of China. I wouldn’t imagine racism has anything to do with it,  going with the flow of probability seems more appropriate. Apologies if any Black people feel alienated by anything I've said, it wasn't my intention, I'm just speaking for myself as a White person.). 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. 7 years ago. Double standard. Because it is neutral, it might turn to either side - positive or negative. by Kenneth Tan. "Laowai" is a word which myself and many other non-Chinese people in China find racist and offensive. In theory, waiguoren is the more polite word for “foriegner.” I have been told that laowai is supposed to be more offensive. Get over it. Copyright 2018 Baopals. She goes on to concede that such labeling is integral to the Chinese lingual structure. And if we really want to go down the dictionary definition path, "foreigner/洋人/外国人/老外" should really mean ANYONE in ANY country who doesn't hold a passport for that country (or similar definition). As for many of the rest of you, do you SERIOUSLY have nothing other to do than "be offended." That, I also find staggering. But they will get used to it, and will learn to accept or ignore it,” advice that some may find hard to swallow. Books by current and former Beijinger staffers. Waiguoren 外国人 is the standard term for “foreigner” or “foreign national”. Certain people didn’t mind the term at all; others saw it as hard evidence of Chinese racism. Probably the Chinese equivalent of "nigger". READ: Red Dress Charity Run Attracts Online Controversy as Animosity Towards Expats Grows. ", Meanwhile Makowski's friend Felix Liu, School Bar's owner and a former Chinese language teacher, recalls with a laugh: "I'd always explain to my foreign students: laowai is a term that originated in Beijing's local dialect, it means: 很亲切的外国人 (hěn qīnqiè de wàiguó rén, "very kind foreigner") or 很有意思的外国人 (hěn yǒuyìsi de wàiguó rén, "very interesting foreigner"). I'm not. Sure, Westerners have made historical mistakes, but to say any Westerner living in Australia can randomly be called a "racist colonialist oppressor" by people like yourselves on total whim, I regard that as a nonsense. 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. Chinese is filled with terms for foreigners. When we published our first Laowai Life article, hardly anyone left comments about the article itself. Andrew from Hangzhou echoed this sentiment on Facebook: “Calling someone a foreigner is pretty bigoted as it implies you don’t belong here. Chinese is filled with terms for foreigners. 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. 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. It's how it's used that can make it offensive e.g. A nationalistic … Maybe that’s because i tend not to broadly classify people (including myself) by race. A Guide to Getting Laid with Laowai. As you previously stated, 99.5% Chinese. Anna Z, for instance, wrote on her Lost Panda blog (which she bills as an account “about life in rural China”): “It is time to stand up against a word that not just carries a derogatory connotation, but discriminates everyone in China who is not Chinese.”. “Tamade shabi laowai” , yeah, offended. Jokes, people. 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. Laowai In China. Chinese people) who use the term consider laowai a casual and fairly neutral word. Laowai is a culturally complex, and often controversial, word. 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. 入乡随俗. Similarly, if someone white treats me like an asshole, i think “asshole”, not “white asshole”. 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. 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. Admin, I can't believe you essentially repeated the same mantra "it doesn't matter". Referring to you as a foreigner might already seem disrespectful and add to that being called “old” would downright leave some folks feeling offended. I have a spine and a backbone. Lǎowài literally translates as "always" (lǎo 老) "foreigner" (wài 外), NOT "old foreigner" like most people would misunderstand as. I have a name, my own nationality and my own identity. Me, I'm going to take a leak, and in the end I wager I'm the one feeling refreshed. ^ i've been here far longer than 10 years, and i rarely hear it used in a hostile or disparaging context. And if children happen to use it parents would quickly correct them. If you are going to take offense at one, then by all means be offended by both as they are almost identical terms. Where it is so devastatingly powerful is that it is a blanket term to which a social status quo can be upheld by … 老外 (lǎowài) is the most common Chinese word for "foreigner." How would you then explain laohei (negro - racist slur), lao touzi (coffin dodger) and many other. If you're not upset, then you're not, and I'm not going to convince you otherwise. To say these rights belong to all non-Westerners and that it's somehow PC to demand the same for Westerners is blinkered, obscurantist and bigotted in itself. Don't think that Chinese tourists in Canada would appreciate being called foreigners, even though when they are approach, they have no qualms about carrying on with calling non-Chinese laowai, despite the inaccuracy, given geography. Miraculously, it labels foreigners as both friends and outsiders, as both respected and condescended upon at the same time. But it doesn't make it any less irritating. You did not acknowledge nor take any of my points into account (which is really bad debating, btw), for example 老外/外国人 continuing to be used by Chinese migrant communities OUTSIDE China of locals in the countries they move to, nor did you address the fact that Da Shan doesn't particularly like the word, despite being the poster boy for this article. Personally, if I see a lot of people waiting for a train in China and I felt in some way compelled to comment out loud on the situation ( which I probably would not), I would state that there are a lot of people waiting for the train, I wouldn’t need to state that the vast majority are Chinese, that part is so obvious that is not necessary to include it. Don’t you realize some of these people could be Korean, or Japanese, or Malaysian, or Vietnamese? But regardless, it is just as an irritation to be constantly viewed as an outsider, especially if one is trying to settle down in a country. So when a Chinese person calls me a foreigner, I take it to mean the same.”, In a 1997 selection of Chinese essays by foreign exchange students, one piece was titled “When will I finally stop being a laowai?” In it, the author Felicia writes, “Even if I studied Chinese for a few more years, even if I decided to stay in China long-term, even if I started a family here, I can’t change my fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. “In China you never only have ‘a friend’ (朋友 péngyǒu). I don't mind if some Whites/Caucasians don't like the term Westerner then that's OK. All of these terms are totally acceptable to me: White guy/him/her/Caucasian/Anglo/Westerner/Australian/ (And most definitely, in the case of Black Americans, or Aboriginal Australians and other non-White people from Western countries, they have exactly the same rights when it comes to self-definition and are no less LOCALS of the countries they are from. Finally someone with a sense of cultural awareness and basic manners and dignity. The indigenous people of these countries are definitely not foreigners. 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. Why is "Beijing" Now Shown in Red in the Travel Pass App? Grow some balls people. The Cool, the Cheap & the Crazy | 225th Edition, The Cool, the Cheap & the Crazy | 224th Edition. Hence the smiley at the end of that statement. Although they will "find you a job placement within 30 days"as they say, it will not be the one you wanted nor the one you applied for nor the one you like. 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). Personally, I have little time and less interest in fretting over whether complete strangers---most of them mediocre---respect me or not. Da Shan does speak Chinese. So the common response among apologists for these expressions "You're in their country, so you are, in fact a foreigner." Qi writes that “laowai is a linguistic relic because although it’s been more than a century since China’s isolated days ended, the term still reflects a sense of ‘cultural superiority’.” Yet for the past few decades, China has been undergoing massive globalization, as speaking English and even idolizing Western culture is becoming commonplace. 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. But if someone calls you shabi laowai, then you beat them. 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. Essentially, people should call us what we introduce ourselves as. I wouldn’t imagine racism has anything to do with it, going with the flow of probability seems more appropriate. 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. Laowai Life: Is “Laowai” An Offensive Word? It doesn't even mean foreigner. I'm an Australian living in Australia. Mandarin Chinese for "foreign devil". With this usage, the word foreigner in say, Singapore, would refer to Western non-Singporeans, Chinese non-Singporeans and Japanese non-Singporeans etc etc alike. If someone Chinese treats me like an asshole, i think “asshole”, not “Chinese asshole”. 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. Mike, also from Hangzhou, vehemently disagreed. 90 likes. The idea of anyone in their right mind going around INTRODUCING THEMSELVES as foreigners is so unlikely, not to mention grotesque, that it caused me to go back and put quotation marks around that word academics a few lines up. Laowai is not considered a necessarily offensive term by those who choose to use it, but may become so from context (tone, manner, situation, etc.). Contentious as all this has become, it is by no means the first of such heated, laowai-related screed online. 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