HSK Beginner vocab item, that (until now) was never used in a ChinesePod lesson!
Just searched all ChinesePod lessons for
- 劳驾 = láojià = excuse me
but it was never used - why?
It's an HSK Beginner vocab item!
bababardwanNovember 23, 2009, 09:54 PM
hehe,劳驾 is one of the handful of words I knew before CPod as it's on the inside cover of my pocket mandarin guide,but yeah I'd not struck it since until recently I think I saw someone mention it in the discussion section.It makes one start to wonder whether the word is no longer used or something.
zhenlijiangNovember 27, 2009, 06:13 AM
Bodawei, sorry I'm replying so late. Thanks for your insights.
Humour is a notoriously difficult thing to get a handle on ... To give this a little perspective, it is sometimes said in Australia that 'Americans' don't 'understand' irony, compared to Australians, in that they often don't think our jokes are very funny. Are we just a misunderstood people? Australians (I think) key in with British humour much more easily than humour from the US. Maybe we (English and Australians both) aren't very funny (but we still laugh at each others jokes.) See I think that's funny! Maybe the Chinese line up better with people from the United States in terms of what is funny? Just a thought.
When George Harrison made a movie with Madonna he was heard to remark that she "doesn't have a sense of humor". Now I know he meant her and her state at the time, not her nationality, but for some reason that has always settled in my mind as "The British think Americans have no sense of humor". And it made sense to me that way.
In Japan when humor doesn't translate, even when it's all-domestic but of course most often when it's trans-cultural, we say "ha, an American joke", meaning "that one was just too weak to make it across the cultural divide". Maybe it's the Americans that are misunderstood!
Not that we truly believe Americans lack a sense of humor. Often when we say "American" we could just as well be saying "欧米"; it's just that our westerner references are overwhelmingly from the US, due to the nature of US-Japan relations the past half-century and the amount of American culture we've imported during that time.
bodaweiNovember 24, 2009, 12:10 AM
It was in a textbook I had but I don't believe I have ever heard it used.
I have heard a variety of expressions. A couple of days ago someone pushed past me to get out of the lift saying what sounded like xiàle.. I think the correct form is to say 让一下 or just push you out of the way .. :-) I was told that it is a Beijing expression (hence its appearance in textbooks); maybe it is still used there? Or it is a formal expression that is still used in certain circumstances.. or by super polite individuals.. or by writers of phrase books.
Maybe it is one of those almost archaic words that can still be used, kind of tongue in cheek. Difficult for a learner to use..when it is not in normal everyday use. And it is worth remembering (when trying to joke in Chinese) that, from what I can work out, Chinese people do not do irony.
zhenlijiangNovember 24, 2009, 01:13 AM
I Googled and found this older Newbie lesson, because I swear I saw 劳驾 being discussed on CPod, but more recently, with Pete (which I couldn't find).
The lesson doesn't contain 劳驾. A poddie asked about it in the discussion, Amber answered.
Bodawei, Chinese people do not do irony--I'm intrigued.
Tell us more!
user76423November 24, 2009, 11:46 AM
There are so many Chinese guys around in this forum, and they all want us to teach Chinese (and learn some English) -- anybody who is able to tell us when/where 劳驾 is used today in China???
Or someone from ChinesePod?
bodaweiNovember 24, 2009, 01:04 PM
I am sure that this would have been hashed over somewhere in ChinesePod (possibly around Joke of the Day (?), which I have never followed.) I don't want to go over old ground. Nor do I want to pretend to know more than I do. Humour is a notoriously difficult thing to get a handle on. The assertion is that: (I will lay it out) Chinese people do not often use irony (compared to say Australians) as means of making people laugh. A big generalisation I know. To give this a little perspective, it is sometimes said in Australia that 'Americans' don't 'understand' irony, compared to Australians, in that they often don't think our jokes are very funny. Are we just a misunderstood people? Australians (I think) key in with British humour much more easily than humour from the US. Maybe we (English and Australians both) aren't very funny (but we still laugh at each others jokes.) See I think that's funny! Maybe the Chinese line up better with people from the United States in terms of what is funny? Just a thought.
bodaweiNovember 24, 2009, 01:08 PM
I tried you link to Amber's answer to a poddie's question; I could get to the original lesson but not to Amber's answers. (Site blocked.) Has Amber been blocked in China? :-)
bababardwanNovember 24, 2009, 01:50 PM
So I take it you could get her answer in the discussion of the lesson[Actually, 劳驾 (láojià) is a way of introducing a request, or asking someone if you could trouble them to do something. But it would have to be followed by what your request is. So you could first say 劳驾 (láojià), followed by one of the phrases above. However, that would be a bit over the top polite-wise, so it may be better and quicker to just use one of the ways taught in this lesson], but not the link to her blog provided by joachim at the end of the discussion? As far as I could see,she didn't specifically discuss it in her blog but jens posted this there:
Yes, I think that 让一下 (ràng yīxià) is that much more effective precisely because the Chinese rarely use it, so it gets you an immediate reaction. I think generally Chinese practice is more to just push your way through. We're more the ones that feel the need to say anything. That is my experience after 3 years in Shanghai.
changyeNovember 24, 2009, 01:51 PM
Come to think of it, I've also never heard local people say "劳驾" here in northeast China, although the word is probably often seen in Chinese textbooks.
That said, I heard somewhere before that "劳驾" is actually used in 中国东北, but it's a relatively polite phrase, and therefore people rarely use it, especially when talking with friends and family members.
According to Google reserch, "劳驾" originated in 北京土话 (Beijing dialect), and the word is still often used by indigenous Beijingers. Can anyone confirm this?
xiaophilNovember 24, 2009, 02:19 PM
I have tried to teach the word 'irony' to Chinese students. I always feel like they are thinking, "Why would anybody care to make a word for this?"
I kind of feel that Americans do like ironic humor, but maybe I just think that because I like ironic humor. I don't know if it still holds true, but the "ironic look" was big before I left America four years ago, e.g. suburban kids who feel no connection with rural life wearing trucker hats. I guess that isn't really humor, although I do find it funny.
xiaophilNovember 24, 2009, 03:05 PM
Oh golly, I'm not sure why I feel compelled to go on talking about this, but... I think Chinese can understand American wholesome sitcom humor (for some reason Growing Pains is an old favorite in China), but I don't think they would like American sarcasm. Sarcasm makes people lose face.
Anyway, I have never heard anybody say 劳驾 either, but then again, I also haven't heard somebody say 同志 in the way my textbooks taught me ;).
bodaweiNovember 24, 2009, 05:22 PM
Thanks for your input on humour.. I take it this has been hashed over before and I missed all the fun. For what it is worth I agree with your comments on what American humour the average Chinese is likely to 'get'.
These generalisations are as painful for me as they are apparently for you. And again for the record, animated comedy The Simpsons, Family Guy etc. have a substantial following in Aust (well, in my house they do - but we will watch anything.)
Oh.. a stranger about my age addressed me as 同志 recently; I'm pretty sure that it was the textbook use. Actually he was upset about something I did.. it's a long story and not at all interesting.
henningNovember 25, 2009, 05:09 AM
Actually, my wife uses 劳驾 all the time. She taught me mutiple times that this is the only polite way to ask a stranger for a favour (e.g. on the street). The 请问 for actions, so to speak.
She is from Beijing, though.
I always associated the phrase with those imperial-China pictures (addressing someone by talking to his "hard working carriage").
changyeNovember 25, 2009, 05:40 AM
Probably your hunch is right. I heard before that "劳驾" is originally used in the sense of "make you take the trouble to visit us", and here the "驾" indicates "a carriage" used in feudal China, as you expected. In those days, rich people used a carriage (驾) when they visit someone.
bodaweiNovember 24, 2009, 02:22 PM
Thnks a lot for your posting those old comments. Oldies but goodies - I particularly concur with Amber's advice that in general Chinese people just barge through. But if you say 让一下 people fold for you (well, out here they do, can't speak for economic powerhouses in the East.) Actually if you have not actually experienced the 'barge through' that is a piece of culture shock to look forward to. Don't be fooled by size; a little old lady who looks like she hasn't done anything worse in her life than wield knitting needles in the interest of her family's comfort and future will catch you in a shoulder charge that would impress the 'Brick with Eyes' (sorry, Australian reference.)
BTW I was fooled by the 'old look' pre-avatar ChinesePod (wow - haven't we progressed!?) And I also really like those avatars for the new Xiaophil boards. A little un-Chinese in their clarity but they stand out.