Posted by Sino Mandarin on 6. Aug 2012
As a completely new arrival, many
foreigners might get a little nervous about the life in China. Some of them may
speak a little Chinese. Be that as it may, most of them do not really know
Chinese. Absolutely, they can’t avoid some embarrassing moments.
Henry, a foreign friend, can speak excellent Chinese. One day he was invited to the wedding ceremony. There, he gave the couple his wishes and commended the bride for her beauty. The bride felt a little shy and embarrassed by his praise. So her groom said, instead of her, "nail, nali"(哪里，哪里). Henry froze for a moment. He never faced such a situation before. Mistakenly, he thought only a vague compliment could not satisfy the couple. They need more specific compliments. Therefore he responded quickly, "hair, eyebrows, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are all very beautiful!" With that, he found all the guests broke into laughter.
Henry looked a little confused, when he told me. “I’ve no idea why they laughed like that.” Actually, Henry didn’t realize, in China, 哪里，哪里 (nǎ lǐ nǎ lǐ) is just a way to show self-modesty, which is completely different from哪里(nǎ lǐ) (means where in English).
Development & Extension:
哪里 nǎ lǐ where
哪儿 nǎ ér where
哪个 nǎ ɡè which
哪 nǎ which
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