Discussion » Nonsense » "lao wai"

  • chenzeizei
    chenzeizei wrote:
    <p>Have you ever been called "laowai"? Do you mind it? and what's your feeling about this word? I am doing a survey now,would you please do me a favour? Thanks a lot !</p>
  • A豆腐
    A豆腐 wrote:

    Probably the same feeling you get when you are called 老外地 by local chinese, dont you think it?

  • Daniel
    Daniel wrote:

    The word laowai is not offensive... it is the context that it is put in that often is....

    This kind of sentence harks back to the N-word 'debate' and Alex's 'philosophy' of language that positions words as tied to a static meaning rather than their (dynamic) usage.

    If 'laowai' is often used offensively, the word is offensive. Frequency here is the important factor, and I think the key issue for whether 'laowai' is offensive or not is whether it is most often used in an offensive way, which I think the Chinese speakers on this website are in a much better position to answer. Having broached this topic with Chinese people and found that their opinions supported the view that the word is mostly used with negative connotations, I'm inclined to interpret the word as an offensive one.

    As a Chinese ,actually when we call foreigners " lao wai" ,we don't mean to offend them. But put myself in their position, i think it sounds a little rude.

    Your intention does not rule out the word being offensive, it simply makes you a little thoughtless when it comes to the words you use. If you think that the word 'sounds a little rude', doesn't it confirm that 'laowai' has those negative connotations?

  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:

    Amongst themselves, Chinese people say laowai even outside of China, even in the home countries of their "laowai" hosts.

    There is a clue for you OP. Now you can stop with the insincere solicitation of opinions.

  • Daniel
    Daniel wrote:

    @chenzeizei,

    Your personal intention behind the words you use does not define their meaning: if I called Person A an 'absolute genius' after Person A had done something stupid, this would not therefore mean that 'genius' is negative. In the same vein, just because you use 'laowai' with positive intentions does not necessary make that word positive.

    What defines the meaning of a word is its accepted usage/s (rather than the exact meaning found in dictionaries: this is why the meanings of words change over time and dictionaries are updated to reflect current language-use. For example, in English a word like 'gay' has been shifted from exclusively positive to partially negative (the slur associated with it) over the course of several centuries).

    And so the key question in this topic is not what the word 'literally means' (you misuse literally by the way, and 老 is used in negative words as well as positive), or what foreign people think about 'laowai', but rather what do the majority of people who use this word mean by it? The way I've had it explained to me, and you kind of confirm this, is that 外国人 is the formal translation of 'foreigner' (an English word that I also have problems with, but that's another topic), and that most of those that use 老外 rather than 外国人 use it with negative connotations。

  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:

    Chinese people probably think ethnocentrism is a good thing because it has 'center' in it which is pretty 中 and therefore okay.

  • Line Lund
    Line Lund wrote:

    take it easy!lao wai is not a bad Salution.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    。。。

    Hahahahaha ... come to think of it, the word "foreign" did not come up often in Oz news ... but, they refer to the ethnicity and country of origin when necessary, and that seems to be acceptable ...

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    ...

    (continued) ... offered? surely you did not mean that ... heehee ...

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    ...

    Hahahahaha ... hi-jack-ed ...

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    ...

    Hahahaha ... where have you been hiding?

  • A豆腐
    A豆腐 wrote:

    The answer is simple, using 老外 as a means of addressing non-chinese individuals confirms and highlights to all around that the individual being addressed is an outsider. Not one of the insiders, not Chinese. Different. Not the same. AND THAT THEY AND THEIR SOCIAL STATUS IS DEFINED BY THIS.

    You hit the nail on the head, dude :)

  • Sumei
    Sumei wrote:

    awwwwwwwww

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    。。。

    (continued) ...

    sometime we feel proud to have a "lao wai" friend.

    Noted ...

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