The problem with "Ni Hao"
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captainfakeeye

Yorba Linda, CA

#1 Aug 13, 2011
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."

Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.

However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?

What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?

“Rudeness is the weak man's”

Since: Nov 08

imitation of strength.

#2 Aug 14, 2011
It shows a person's ignorance. They assume all Asian people "just got here" and speak another language.

Here's something I run into a lot that is the flip side of that coin. I'll meet an Asian person who speaks English really well and will ask them if they were born in Oklahoma. It doesn't really matter, I'm just making conversation.

They will look at me like I'm crazy and say, "no, can't you tell by looking at me?"

No, I can't. Just because they look Asian doesn't mean they couldn't have been born here, Asian people have been in America for hundreds of years.

“Rudeness is the weak man's”

Since: Nov 08

imitation of strength.

#3 Aug 14, 2011
The polite thing to do would be to ask them if they speak Chinese, Japanese or whatever. Tell them you have been learning and want to practice.

Never assume an Asian person is any race in particular or speaks another language. You can't judge a book by its cover.

I met a girl that is part Vietnamese, Chinese and Native American. She looks Filipino. She only speaks English.

America is a melting pot of many different people from all over the world but many were born and raised here and don't necessarily speak another language.

Since: Jan 08

Brooklyn, NY

#4 Aug 14, 2011
captainfakeeye wrote:
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."
Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.
However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
I actually don't feel that way at all.

I look Chinese and proud to be of Chinese descent. Our reputation preceeds us. High achievement, high income, family oriented, hardworking, highly educated.

I'm always glad to tell people I am Chinese if they're wondering. If they want to say "Ni Hao" to me, I'm ok with that.

Since: Jan 08

Brooklyn, NY

#5 Aug 14, 2011
Pamela in red wrote:
The polite thing to do would be to ask them if they speak Chinese, Japanese or whatever. Tell them you have been learning and want to practice.
Never assume an Asian person is any race in particular or speaks another language. You can't judge a book by its cover.
I met a girl that is part Vietnamese, Chinese and Native American. She looks Filipino. She only speaks English.
America is a melting pot of many different people from all over the world but many were born and raised here and don't necessarily speak another language.
I think in NYC, it's a little different because there are so many ethnic immigrants speaking Asian languages and Spanish. Also in my neighborhood, some Whites speaks Russian or Spanish when they're within earshot of me.

A habit I must break is asking a Mexican looking Hispanic if they're Mexican. It turned they're actually Colombians, Peruvian and Bolivian.

“I'm an East Asian male.”

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#6 Aug 14, 2011
captainfakeeye wrote:
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
I am an East Asian male and I don't tell them not to do this. The type of greeting they use is their choice as long as they are not trying to be offensive.

“Rudeness is the weak man's”

Since: Nov 08

imitation of strength.

#7 Aug 15, 2011
mak from NYC wrote:
<quoted text>
I think in NYC, it's a little different because there are so many ethnic immigrants speaking Asian languages and Spanish. Also in my neighborhood, some Whites speaks Russian or Spanish when they're within earshot of me.
A habit I must break is asking a Mexican looking Hispanic if they're Mexican. It turned they're actually Colombians, Peruvian and Bolivian.
I'm not very good at telling where a person is from unless they start talking. I've gone to the Spanish side of town and tried to talk to white looking people before only to realize they only speak Spanish. They also assume I speak Spanish so it goes both ways.
Krisjing

Selyatino, Russia

#8 Aug 16, 2011
ghfhgf

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#9 Aug 29, 2011
captainfakeeye wrote:
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."
Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.
However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
I blame the show: Ni Hao Kai Lan.

Actually, most people do walk up to Black people and say whats up homie then give a pound. Especially Asians.

Since: Aug 11

Delaware

#10 Aug 31, 2011
why would you let something like that upset you... those people clearly don't mean any harm in what they say. if anything, they're trying to be friendly with you.

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#11 Sep 1, 2011
feonalily wrote:
why would you let something like that upset you... those people clearly don't mean any harm in what they say. if anything, they're trying to be friendly with you.
I understand what he's trying to say. Actually I see both point of views. People that come from other countries/ island etc, have a challenging time with the english language unless they have been taking classes or self taught. Communication and understanding is very important in every culture. Lets say you go to a market and the the seller speaks limited English, and you greet them with Ni Hao. They are going to assume that you speak the language which would benefit them and make them more comfortable communicating. But they find out you don't speak Chinese at all, that person might feel bad/ disappointed/ uncomfortable, and that you are making fun of them and their culture. Americans see it as a sign of respect and acceptance. But, if a person wants to really show respect and acceptance they should learn the whole language and not just a few words.

I understand both sides because I have family members and friends from different parts of the world that speak different languages. After knowing my friends for a while, I asked if it was ok to greet them in their perspective languages. Its all about respect. Also, majority of population (maybe all) of young Asians that live in the US, speak english. So, greeting them with Ni Hao will be disrespectful and you may get beat up. Plus, unless all Asians are walking around with shirts that says their ethnic background (ie: Chinese, Korean, Filipino, etc.), how would you know what they are? I can take a guess because I have studied (a little) into Asian facial features but..... Its just best to say hello and smile.

Since: Mar 08

Allentown, PA

#12 Sep 2, 2011
captainfakeeye wrote:
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."
Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.
However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
When ever I greet a Chinese looking guy I do not know, I say "Yo, homie".

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#13 Sep 2, 2011
LookingToEscape wrote:
<quoted text>
When ever I greet a Chinese looking guy I do not know, I say "Yo, homie".
lol...what?
mark

Greensboro, NC

#14 Sep 28, 2012
captainfakeeye wrote:
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."
Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.
However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
I grew up in Hawaii,where we "haoles" (whites) made up 30-35% of the population. For me race really didn't matter, and I don;t think that I grouped my friends/classmates into ethnic groups. Fifty years later, I work at a university; if I greet someone in a foreign language--whether French, German, Ukrainian or Chinese--it is because I hear them speaking a language other than English.(We have many international students here!] I was recently criticized, tho, for making the assumptions you talk about, so I am more cautious than I was before. As I said to the woman who pointed this out to me, even old dogs can learn new tricks, or at least ways of interacting.
the examiner

Montréal, Canada

#15 Sep 28, 2012
knee How
aml44

Syracuse, NY

#18 Oct 6, 2012
captainfakeeye wrote:
I hate it when people come up to me and say, "Ni hao," or "Konichiwa," just because I look Asian. Yes, I am Chinese American. Perhaps you can even tell that I am of Chinese ethnic origins, but why would you use "Ni hao" to greet me? I live in the United States, just like you, and guess what? Just like you, I'm fluent in English. That's like me taking one look at you, assuming that you're German because of your blonde hair and blue eyes, and saying, "Gudentag."
Now that I've gotten the anger out, let me explain a little more about why I am so angry. I'm sure that most people who do this don't realize that they are being insulting or rude, but actually just want to be friendly and say hi.(Of course, there are some that say "Ni hao," and then stalk off with huge smirks on their faces.) I don't mind if you aren't Chinese and actually want to have an intelligent conversation with me in Chinese or take genuine interest in my cultural background. That's really cool. Just ask if I speak Chinese first.
However, please realize that there are layers of racism and otherism (unconscious as it may be) embedded in this simple phrase when you greet random Asian-looking people this way. 1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race. 2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.(And don't say that you can tell them apart... no one is 100% correct. It's more polite to ask.) 3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way. You wouldn't go up to a random black person and say, "Yo homie," you wouldn't go up to someone who looks French and say, "Bonjour," so why would you say "Ni hao" to someone who looks Asian? You ASSUME that certain people would be greeted how you wanted to be greeted: with a "hello." Why would you treat Asian-looking people differently?
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it? If you are not of Asian descent, do you do this? Why?
I agree with you 100%. This happened to me at a bar last night and it urked me so much that I had to leave and of course my friends thought I was overreacting. Yes I am of Chinese descent but I'm American, I'm not Chinese and it pisses me off that someone could take one look at me and assume that I'm Chinese.
TheJazuma

Sydney, Australia

#19 Oct 6, 2012
captainfakeeye wrote:
1) You are implying that the first thing you notice about me is my race.
2) You assume that I am of Chinese origin, even though Asian-looking people include the Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc. etc.
3) Greeting me with "Ni hao" automatically implies that you distinguish yourself from me, that I am "different" and not in a good way.
What do you all think of this? If you are of Asian descent, do you get offended by this? How do you deal with it?
Everyone notices "race" first, it's futile to deny it. It's the first thing you see in someone. You notice the facial features.

Non-Asians can't tell Asians apart, thus that's what they assume, since 2/3 of Far East Asians are Chinese. I'm not condoning their practice though.

3/4 of Overseas Chinese are FOBs, thus similar to the above.

Offense depends on individual cases.
AZN

Toronto, Canada

#20 Oct 12, 2012
TheJazuma wrote:
<quoted text>
Everyone notices "race" first, it's futile to deny it. It's the first thing you see in someone. You notice the facial features.
Non-Asians can't tell Asians apart, thus that's what they assume, since 2/3 of Far East Asians are Chinese. I'm not condoning their practice though.
3/4 of Overseas Chinese are FOBs, thus similar to the above.
Offense depends on individual cases.
True, specially since asians themselves make no effort to break the stereotype.
To AZN

Pelham, NY

#21 Oct 12, 2012
AZN wrote:
<quoted text>True, specially since asians themselves make no effort to break the stereotype.
And how do you propose to break this stereotype? Who's patient enough to listen?
AZN

Toronto, Canada

#22 Oct 12, 2012
To AZN wrote:
<quoted text>
And how do you propose to break this stereotype? Who's patient enough to listen?
Nobody expects anybody to listen.

But Asians present themselves with an attitude that makes them diminutive in the eyes of others.

For christ sakes, this kind of behaviour and culture may be the norm in east asia. But in the west it is not respected or held in high esteem.

In western societies, humility is looked down upon as humiliating oneself.

The blacks got more respect when they started punching back.

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