Life in China

Xièxiè: Chinese Manners Explained

China is a country which has highly specific cultural etiquette beliefs. Xiexie is one of the first Chinese words you should learn. Xiexie means “Thank you,” but it’s not the only way to express gratitude. The right way to say “Thank You” in Chinese depends on the Chinese dialect spoken. There are several Chinese dialects used by speakers from various regions of the mainland China and around the world. There are several ways to thank Chinese, and if you correctly use them, you will be able to express your thanks with style and nuance.

When expressing gratitude in Western cultures, people say thank you or more informally “thanks.” When appreciating someone, politely declining or accepting something, or when politely acknowledging what somebody has said to you we use thanks or thank you very much. Likewise, saying thank you in Chinese is quite essential just like saying hello in everyday life and as part of your Chinese survival toolkit, it is a must-know.

The most common way of saying thank you is “Xie Xie Ni(nin).” Thank you can also be expressed in Chinese in other ways including “duo xie” to mean many thanks, “Xie Xie ni bang wo” to say thanks for your help, or FeiChang gan xie. Thank you in Cantonese is usually written as 唔该 in simplified Chinese though the traditional Chinese it is 謝謝.

Compared to Westerners, the Chinese people do not prefer accepting praise, and if they do, it is not positively. They believe in modesty. Hence, when you receive compliments from someone, you better use the other ways of saying thank you but xiexie. Some of the means to thank people in China include:

Xie xie-Thank you

The most utilized word representing thank you in Chinese is Xiexie. It is a double syllable word and can be a little bit difficult to pronounce. If you want to hack the pronunciation the think of some sound between /sh/ and, that’s the sound of X. Remember that on the second syllable; there is a neutral tone. Try saying xie xie and your thank you in Chinese is just as good as it should.

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It is important to note that unlike other cultures, the Chinese don’t use xiexie that often because they are cultured that way.

When talking to someone of a higher hierarchy than you, use xie xie(nin) (您).

Fei Chang-gan xie Ni is what you use to express your gratitude. “Thank you very much’ when you feel like someone has been so kind to you that you owe them one. Remember that the sentence is quite formal that you should only use it when you are incredibly and truly grateful

Feichang Ganxie ni de bangzhu-“ 非常感的帮助”

Thank you very much for your help- this is what you tell someone who just saved you day.

This expresses much more profound gratitude than the first two. This is what you say to someone who was there for you when nothing made sense.

Nali Nali “哪里哪里”-you are too kind

This is what most of the Chinese people use when complimented and it shows humility. People of China thrive in modesty and humility and when paid respects they avoid being too direct or overly confident. This is used to mean that you are too kind, and it is as you are deflecting the compliment. Other people use the term “bu bu bu” which means “no, no, no” as a way to politely deflect complement.

Three ways to say you are welcome

Bu keqi – to mean you are most welcomed and it’s the commonly used expression.

Bu Yong xie- “don’t mention it” mainly alternated with bu keqi

Xiao Shi Yi Zhuang means “it’s nothing” which tends to fall more on the informal tone and can be used with family and friends but certainly not with your employer.

The Chinese seldom use xie xie, especially with their close relationships. The most two common dialects spoken in China are Mandarin and Cantonese. The standard way of saying thank you in Cantonese is “Doh Je” which is mainly used in Southern China and spoken with people in Hong Kong, Macau, and other areas outside Mainland China. On the other hand, in Mandarin Chinese, spoken in most parts of mainland China, the standard way of saying “thank you” is “xie xie.”

Clearly, there are many ways of showing gratitude in Chinese. To thank you is no longer just about being polite but your ability to fit confidently in society. China is rich in culture and just like the Chinese food; their language also gives them their unique identity. It’s imperative that you master the valid expressions so you will be able to know the type of scenarios necessitating a certain “thank you” in Chinese. You’ve added one to your Chinese survival skills, and you can now quickly show your gratitude and immerse yourself into the rich Chinese culture. There is so much to learn as you keep enjoying your stay in China but the basics will keep you going.

Xièxiè: Chinese Manners Explained
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