Inappropriate Gifts in Chinese Culture|Learn Mandarin Chinese

Inappropriate Gifts in Chinese Culture|Learn Mandarin Chinese


Hello everyone Today I want to talk about the gifts that we don’t usually give to others because of the cultural taboos or, you can say, superstition. So in this video I’m gonna tell you 5 inappropriate gifts in Chinese culture and why people don’t like them. Also, I’ll tell you how people solve the problem when they really do want to receive or give these presents and some extra details that you might need to know. Hi, I’m Grace. Welcome back to my channel! The reasons why these gifts are unsuitable are mostly because of their homophones or their symbols. And before I get into the 5 gifts, I want to remind you that some Chinese people might not care that much about these customs but I suggest that if you’re not that familiar with the person you want to give this present to, just try to avoid these things. OK, let’s go! Number 1 Green hat 綠帽 / 綠帽子 I guess you already know that in Chinese, a word can have a different number of characters but still represent the same thing. Like here, 帽 and 帽子 both mean “hat”. So in this video, I will include both of them to help you learn more. Ok, here we go. 綠 and 綠色 is green, and again 帽 and 帽子 both mean “hat”. and “子” here is a suffix for forming a noun. The reason why you can’t give others a green hat is due to symbolism. Back in ancient China, green was a degrading color, and it gradually became a symbol that a girl cheating on her boyfriend or husband. So nowadays people use the phrase “戴綠帽子” to indicate that a male is being cheated on. “戴” is to put on, to wear. You can use this phrase in a sentence like Number 2 pear 梨 / 梨子 “子” here, you know, is a suffix. In Chinese culture, when we go to visit friends or relatives, we like to give them fruits. Most of the time, we give apples 蘋果 or oranges 橘子. Pears 梨子 are usually not given because “梨” sounds like “離”, which has the meaning of leaving and separating. So some Chinese people don’t really feel good about receiving this gift. Number 3 Clock 鐘 / 時鐘 時 is time. The previous gift is inappropriate owing to its homophone, and so is this one. When you give others a clock, in Chinese, we say “送鐘” 送 is to give as a present, and 鐘 is clocks, so this literally means “give a clock as a gift”. However, the sound is the same as “送終” 送 here means to accompany (when someone is leaving) or see sb. off and 終 means end. This phrase means “to pay one’s last respects”. It’s related to death, so it is generally not an appropriate gift. Number 4 Shoes 鞋 / 鞋子 In Chinese, the pronunciation of “鞋” is the same as “邪”, which means “evil”. Also I heard some people say that if you give shoes as a gift, it means you want them to leave or to walk away. But personally, I did receive shoes as a gift before, and I remembered my mom kept telling me that I should give that person at least a little amount of money to avoid bad things happening. Because giving a little amount of money represents that this is not a gift, instead, it’s a transaction, so nothing bad will happen. This is the way people solving this problem when they really want to receive or give these kinds of items. Number 5 Umbrella 傘 / 雨傘 This one is also about its pronunciation. 傘 is pronounced pretty similar to 散 which means to scatter or to break up. If you give this as a gift, some people believe that the relationship between you two will not last because of this gift. Ok, so these are the five inappropriate gifts. Also, I want to tell you an extra phrase in our culture, Chinese people believe in「好事成雙」, which means good things come in pairs “好事“ is good things “成” here is to become or to turn into and “雙” is pair, a way of saying two. so when you give the others a red envelope during the Chinese new year, the money inside the envelope should be an even number but not related to four. Because Four in Chinese sounds like death. 四、死 so remember to avoid it. Besides, when you’re choosing the wrapping paper, you should skip two colors: white and black. White is related to funerals and black is considered ominous so don’t use these two colors. OK! These are the things I wanted to share today. BTW, I’ve always been very curious about what kinds of gifts you can not give to others in different countries. So if you’re willing to share with me, feel free to tell me in the comment section, thank you so much! and I’ll see you next time. Bye!

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

14 thoughts on “Inappropriate Gifts in Chinese Culture|Learn Mandarin Chinese

  1. Thanks for sharing these with us. Very useful info! However, I do want to add that as Asians are westernized or born in the west, they are not aware of such meanings or simply don't care or not superstitious at all. Anyway it's better to know or else you may look ignorant and/or feel embarrassed doing these things. This video was Grace-fully done!

  2. I remember one time I was in Guiyang and I showed a girl some Canadian money I had in my wallet. She then asked me if she could keep it as a souvenir. I said yes and she got really mad that I was calling her a hooker.

    I was so confused and it really threw me for a loop

  3. Thank you for sharing Grace! but I checked with my Chinese friend and was told that "绿帽“ isn't the correct way of saying it. She also gave me a few more examples, like "a good boy" in Chinese is 一个好孩子, she said that I cannot say 一个好孩. something like this. Would you let me know how you think of it? Thanks!

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