Chinese Dining Etiquette – Fighting at the Dining Table

Key Learning Points (Preview):

打架 (dǎjià): n/v. fight/to fight

客人 (kèrén): n. guest

An American “学生 (xuésheng) student” traveled to China and was having dinner with his Chinese friends. His “老师 (lǎoshī) teacher” asked him what he thought of China and the Chinese people. The student said: “I notice that Chinese people fight three times at the ‘餐桌 (cānzhuō) dining table.’ Can you tell me why?”

His teacher explained: The first “打架 (dǎjià) fight” is for “the seat of honor.” In China, Chinese people pay much attention to the seating arrangement during dinner. People who should be given the “主座 (zhǔzuò) seat of honor” will courteously decline. Generally, round tables are used at Chinese banquets and the seat facing the “入口 (rùkǒu) entrance” is the seat of honor. The seats on the left hand side of the seat of honor are second, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc.

The second “fight” is about who will be the first to eat. After all the dishes are served, people often courteously decline to be the first to “品尝 (pǐncháng) taste” the dishes. Usually, people will “邀请 (yāoqǐng) invite” the “客人 (kèrén) guest” to eat first. After the guests taste the food, everyone begins eating.

After the dinner, everyone “fights” to pay the bill. Unlike many western cultures, Chinese people usually don’t like “AA制 (AA zhì) going Dutch,” and they prefer to follow the practice of ‘this time is my treat, and next time is your treat’.

Key Learning Points:
打架 (dǎjià): n/v. fight/to fight

“打架 (dǎjià)” can both be a noun and a verb, but is more often used as a verb. In this lesson, “打架 (dǎjià)” doesn’t mean to fight with physical force.

Dìdi hěn guāi, cónglái bù hé xiǎo péngyou dǎjià.
弟弟  很    乖, 从来    不  和  小     朋友      打架。

My younger brother is well behaved, and he never fights with his friends.
客人 (kèrén): n. guest

Jim, kèrén dōu dàole ma?
Wife: Jim,   客人    都   到了 吗?

Jim, have our guests arrived?

Dào le.
Husband: 到了。


学生 (xuésheng) n. student

老师 (lǎoshī) n. teacher

请客 (qǐngkè) n/v. treat/to treat

品尝 (pǐncháng) v. to taste

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