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Jan 132012

1月11号,我在Toastmasters Club发表了我的ice breaker speech,也就是第一个长篇演讲。规定时间是4-6分钟。我最后用了6分20秒。同胞听了深以为然,西人听了若有所思。我的evaluator在body language,confidence,content等方面给了好评,建议改进的地方是加上例子说明中国人之间是怎么交往的,以及中文里Thank-you怎么说。她还说以后若是碰到中国人没说谢谢,她也不会感到被冒犯了。Club meeting结束时,大家说Thanks的时候都开始笑。这个speech,我其实是偷了一把懒。把我写过的一篇文章拿来修改翻译了一下而已。Speech和原来的文章如下:

Traditionally the Chinese express their emotion in an implicit way.  Having deep,sincere and constraing feelings is a virtue. They cherish bosom friends,expecting privity between each other.  They could scrafice for their friends, but they don’t like to say sweet words to them.  A honey-mouthed person is probably suspected to be dagger-hearted, or hypocritical.  Therefore, the Chinese do not say thank-you very often in their daily lives, especially to their families or friends.  It just sounds weird and alienating.

It is totally different in English-speaking countries.  Here people say thank-you a million times a day, even to their family members and friends.  For every favour, you should say thank-you. A friend said she saw a lady have a quarrel with a motor vehicle officer.  When she left she uttered a thank-you, in an angry tone, of course. Often you not only say thank-you, but also give the reason for saying that thank-you.

When Chinese come to Canada, they begin to adapt themselves to a new culture.  They learn to say thank-you more frequently. Once it becomes a habbit, they feel it weird not doing so, even when they pay a visit back to China.

Yet still many Chinese are not so good at saying thank-you as native Canadians. At least it is true in my case.  A British friend of mine who lives in the US once told me: when she was a primary school teacher in Kenya, her students wouldn’t get anything if they did not say thank-you.  Brought up this way, native English-speakers say thank-you so naturally in my eyes.  And they are good at giving reasons quickly.  I find myself sometimes saying thank-you a bit stiff, and not as often as desired.  After my two boys go to school, I notice that they say thank-you on more occasions, which reflects the fact that their parents do not say so as frequently at home.    

The most difficult part for me is “for”: thanks for what? Sometimes it is obvious and easy to say.  Yet we get to say thank-you so many times everyday, sometimes it takes a headache for me to think of unique and appropriate words to give the reasons.  To make it easy, I often omit he “for” part and just say Thank you, but I fear it may make me sound not so sincere sometimes, although I’m really grateful for what people have done for me.  I remembered several years ago, the son of my Australian friend helped me carry my little boy’s car seat for a while.  I said: “Thank you.”Then this six-year-old boy asked: “Thank me for what?”Well, only when asked by this lovely, outspoken boy did I give a specific reason. A native English-speaker must have given it in the very beginning, I guess.

I once explained to my British friend why the Chinese do not say thank-you so often.  They take many favours for granted because they will do the same favours to people without hesitation, so what’s the point to say thank-you again and again for things people would do by nature or reciprocally anyway?  Well, my experience tells me that saying thank-you explicitly and often can indeed foster a more grateful heart.  It helps you be more aware of the favours people are giving you.  After all, maybe no favour should be taken for granted.  When you loose the right to get it, you will realize the preciousness of it.  So why not say thank-you heartedly for a favour when you still have the privilege of receiving it?

Having said that, and tell me if I’m wrong, I feel that in general Chinese, actually Asians, have closer relationships with their families, friends and neighbours, although they do not say thank-you to each other that often. I guess all cultures have their merits and drawbacks, and they can learn from each other.  As a Chinese immigrant in Canada, I wish I could adapt to the new environment, draw the valuables from all cultures and live here with grace, dignity, respect and friendship.

Thank you for listening to my ice breaker speech about saying thank-you!  




西方人完全不同。“Thank you”挂在嘴上,一点点小事都要说的,亲人之间也是如此,比如递了杯水,帮找了样东西,狭路相逢时互相让了一下,对方听了自己的话,等等等等。而且很多时候不光说一个“谢谢”,还得说出为什么谢。

中国人到了西方,入乡随俗,也开始天天说起“Thank you”。开始未免生硬,渐渐习惯了,也就成了自然。及至回国探亲访友时,也会不知不觉多说很多“谢谢”,不说反而不习惯了。

即便如此,不知别人怎样,我仍不象西人那样擅长此道。我的一位在美的英国朋友说,她在肯尼亚教书的时候,给学生东西,如果学生不说“Thank you”,他们是拿不到的。从小这般培养出来,西方人说“Thank you”,听起来更为自然、诚恳,那么多好像句句从心底里升上来,而且很自如地给出各种各样的理由。我有时说的就比较生硬,频率想必也不够高——孩子们上了学后,回家来说“Thank you”的场合、次数增多了,从侧面反映出我们自己家里这方面的教育水平。

最难的地方,是在Thank you后面加的那个for:为了什么谢谢?有的理由很明显,很容易说。可是每天要说那么多的谢谢,有的就要绞尽脑汁想出不重样儿的、合适的理由。很多时候我干脆只说一个“Thank you”,省了后面那个for。这种“偷懒”的习惯让“Thank you”有时显得不那么诚恳,虽然我是在诚恳地道谢。记得一次,一个澳大利亚朋友六岁的儿子好像是帮我开了一下车门还是提了一下弟弟的car seat,我说“Thank you”。他问:“Thank me for what?”在这样童言无忌的逼问下,我才说出理由。西人想必会早就说出来了。

曾向那位英国朋友解释,为什么中国人更少说“谢谢”——因为觉得很多事是理所当然的,大家互相都会很自然地给予帮助、便利,彼此便不用再客气。其实更注意以后,渐渐体会到,常说“Thank you”,确实能带领、培养自己有一颗更加感恩的心。世间也许本没有那么多理所当然的favors;当你失去享用它们的权利时,尤其能感受到它们的珍贵。那为什么在可以拥有它们的时候,不好好地为得到它们说上一句“谢谢”呢?不过话又说回来,中国人之间少说“谢谢”,但很多时候人与人之间有更为亲密、默契的关系。两种文化各有所长吧,可以互相取长补

  4 Responses to “Chinese Saying Thank-you”

  1. 听说你要搬回上海?

  2. 现在不搬了。

  3. 家人有恙,很快将启程回国。这一阵儿,真是多事之冬。

  4. 龙年大吉万事如意啊!

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