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Author Topic: "Laowai"  (Read 7111 times)

The Local Dialect

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #60 on: May 07, 2014, 03:43:48 AM »
Right. I get it, Stil. I guess most of Chinese people don't think "laowai" is a derogatory word.  I think you know how Chinese people think of westerners as you have been in China for a long time. Most of them still think people from western countries are superior.  But you guys feel it's derogatory. That's fair enough.

I don't think this is true at all. There is loads of underlying resentment towards foreigners and foreign countries in China. Just look at the massive media frenzy anytime there's a case of a foreigner doing something wrong in China. My friend entered the bus from the wrong door a week or so ago and had guys shouting abuse at him for about 10 minutes straight, including the the "in our China" etc. etc. line. Him entering the bus from the back door instead of the front had nothing to do with foreign vs. Chinese, in fact, I saw two Chinese old ladies doing the same thing just a few days ago.

This idea that foreigners are somehow regarded as superior and that the average Chinese person looks up to us is about 10 years out of date. We've had long threads here about this before, and maybe, having been out of China for so long you haven't really experienced it, but just as I wouldn't dream of telling a Chinese person that there's no racism in my own country, I would also respectfully submit that not having been on the receiving end of anti-foreigner sentiment, you might not be in the best place to judge whether it actually exists or not.

freegink

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2014, 04:29:09 AM »
I don't think this is true at all. There is loads of underlying resentment towards foreigners and foreign countries in China. Just look at the massive media frenzy anytime there's a case of a foreigner doing something wrong in China. My friend entered the bus from the wrong door a week or so ago and had guys shouting abuse at him for about 10 minutes straight, including the the "in our China" etc. etc. line. Him entering the bus from the back door instead of the front had nothing to do with foreign vs. Chinese, in fact, I saw two Chinese old ladies doing the same thing just a few days ago.

This idea that foreigners are somehow regarded as superior and that the average Chinese person looks up to us is about 10 years out of date. We've had long threads here about this before, and maybe, having been out of China for so long you haven't really experienced it, but just as I wouldn't dream of telling a Chinese person that there's no racism in my own country, I would also respectfully submit that not having been on the receiving end of anti-foreigner sentiment, you might not be in the best place to judge whether it actually exists or not.

Even though I have been outside of China for a few years, I believe I still know about Chinese people well. In recent years, with the high rise of China's economy, a lot of Chinese people think China is now a powerful country. But why more and more Chinese people are emigrating or want to emigrate to Western countries?  Smart people know the distance between China and US, etc.

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Let's say there are jerks in every country. Why would we bother waste time on discussing these people instead of normal people.

Stil

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2014, 04:36:50 AM »

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Let's say there are jerks in every country. Why would we bother waste time on discussing these people instead of normal people.

You would lose that bet.

The Local Dialect

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2014, 05:31:07 AM »

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Let's say there are jerks in every country. Why would we bother waste time on discussing these people instead of normal people.

You would lose that bet.


Yeah, really. I'm not going to go into a litany of offenses because there are numerous threads on this very Saloon about anti-foreign sentiment and harassment and you can do your own research.

You don't know because you're on the other side and haven't experienced it. I'm not questioning your experiences with racism in the West, so don't question what you're being told by foreigners in China. That's like my white friends and I trying to tell African Americans in our country that racism is dead and hey, if you experience what feels like racism, well, that's just jerks being jerks. No worries right? 

This thread is about the term "laowai," so that's why people who use othering language are being discussed. Whenever this comes up on forums the Chinese members jump in getting defensive because no, no, no, we respect and admire foreigners! It is classic "I'm not a racist but ..." or "Some of my best friends are black!" and I don't necessarily blame your average Chinese person for not recognizing it because no, China is not a multicultural society in the way that America or Australia is, and they don't have 100+ years of experience examining and breaking down ethnic/racial discrimination and prejudice in their own society.  But someone who has experienced it from the other end should not be so dismissive of the experiences of people who have actually been the "other" in China.

freegink

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #64 on: May 07, 2014, 06:15:50 AM »

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Let's say there are jerks in every country. Why would we bother waste time on discussing these people instead of normal people.

You would lose that bet.


Yeah, really. I'm not going to go into a litany of offenses because there are numerous threads on this very Saloon about anti-foreign sentiment and harassment and you can do your own research.

You don't know because you're on the other side and haven't experienced it. I'm not questioning your experiences with racism in the West, so don't question what you're being told by foreigners in China. That's like my white friends and I trying to tell African Americans in our country that racism is dead and hey, if you experience what feels like racism, well, that's just jerks being jerks. No worries right? 

This thread is about the term "laowai," so that's why people who use othering language are being discussed. Whenever this comes up on forums the Chinese members jump in getting defensive because no, no, no, we respect and admire foreigners! It is classic "I'm not a racist but ..." or "Some of my best friends are black!" and I don't necessarily blame your average Chinese person for not recognizing it because no, China is not a multicultural society in the way that America or Australia is, and they don't have 100+ years of experience examining and breaking down ethnic/racial discrimination and prejudice in their own society.  But someone who has experienced it from the other end should not be so dismissive of the experiences of people who have actually been the "other" in China.

That's fair enough. I take it.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #65 on: May 07, 2014, 07:38:38 AM »
On the other hand...

while "laowai" does seem available to load with all sorts of nuance the hearer can detect and be alienated by, it's not universally negative, is it?

I was sitting today at lunch and at the next table were the elderly relatives of the owners. They seemed peaceful (and deeply bored). What terms, I wondered to myself, would such people use to identify me? It seemed to me were they using "laowai", it'd be relatively benign inasmuch as would they have other terms available?


Given both the "5000" years of history and the last hundred years of history, the question of Chinese honorifics in general is an interesting one.

» now with New and Endlessly Improving CV 4U  ٩( ᐛ )و

Granny Mae

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #66 on: May 07, 2014, 11:33:33 PM »

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Freegink, this makes me more curious about where you are living in Australia.

freegink

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #67 on: May 07, 2014, 11:58:22 PM »

Also I have experienced enough anti-foreigner sentiment where I live. Like throwing eggs on Asians, calling Asian pigs. Of course, not only Asians are treated this way, some Europeans have got the same treatment. Have you ever experienced this kind of things in China. I bet no.

Freegink, this makes me more curious about where you are living in Australia.

Sorry, I'm reluctant to talk about where I live. Because I love this place and I don't want people to have bias towards this place. Most people are very nice and polite. Feel much better than in China even though it's relatively quiet compared to China.

freegink

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #68 on: May 08, 2014, 02:56:32 AM »
OK, if someone is interested, here's WIKI page of "laowai":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laowai

Stil

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #69 on: May 08, 2014, 05:27:47 AM »
Sorry, I'm reluctant to talk about where I live. Because I love this place and I don't want people to have bias towards this place. Most people are very nice and polite. Feel much better than in China even though it's relatively quiet compared to China.

You don't have to say where you are living of course, but the reason you give for not doing so is ridiculous.

BrandeX

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #70 on: May 08, 2014, 06:46:18 AM »
After reading all the replies after my post, I should clarify that I was speaking only about the word "gweilo", and not "laowai". I don't care terribly much about laowai to be frank, although I see many in this thread do. Most specifically, "gweilo" as used in Guangdong means some variation of "ghost man" (literal), zombie, white devil, etc. It refers to someone's appearance rather than place of origin. In a similar fashion, black people are called "hakgwei", lit. "black ghost" by which, again referencing the US in the 50's, they essentially mean what people of the past did when they called someone a "spook". Both, quite unacceptable imo.

People's intention most of the time is in fact NOT antagonistic when they call you either of these here in GD. To me though, it is just the fact people refer to you by your color instead of name or "saiyun" (westerner) because you people sorta look like a pale dead corpse...

Also, as for what to call black people, you could ask someone's opinion and see how they feel, but it shouldn't be often you need to reference someone's color. I have had a few black friends here in GZ from North America, and all of them at some point had mentioned they preferred the term "black" and not "African American", primarily to differentiate themselves from the large-ish local population of Nigerians (and other African nations) here in GZ. e.g. "I'm not an African American, I'm just an American. I've never been to Africa."
Why bother with that? There is a higher level of discrimination for being of a dark skin tone AND actually from Africa, than just being a dark skinned American here (or so they say).

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: "Laowai"
« Reply #71 on: May 08, 2014, 10:17:24 AM »
  But you guys feel it's derogatory. That's fair enough.

Some do, some don't.  Down south, it's a step up from Gweilo. ahahahahah

There are some advantages to the Chinese approach.  If westerners are at a party and there's a person or small group there that can be identified differently, figuring out how to make a reference without the possibility of being viewed as discriminatory or exclusionary has led to many an awkward moment.  As Old34 pointed out, the intend of the speaker and the interpretation of the listener can be different, which can make for a conversational minefield at times.

Personally, if I was easily offended at being singled out in what could possibly be interpreted as an exclusionary way, I'd have found somewhere else besides China to move to.  As it is, on those super rare occasions when I've spotted another . . . foreigner (is that too exclusionary?) in or near my village, I'm almost as startled as the locals. bjbjbjbjbj

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