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How Are East And West Cultures Different? Learning Chinese Through Comics (Part One)

Dec. 28, 2018

HSK 3 quiz

Kàn mànhuà, xué zhōngwén
看漫画,学中文
Learn Chinese While Reading Comics (Part One)

It’s tough being a foreigner in a strange country! Not only is the language completely different, but the customs are totally different a lot of the time too.

I’m from Beijing and my name is Sun Li. There’s the first problem. My family name is Sun. Some “外国人(wàiguó rén) foreigners” have a lot of trouble with that one. I’ve been studying in France for several months now, and even some of my friends don’t know how to pronounce my name right. I just tell them to call me Li Li.

My foreign friends struggle to understand a lot of things about my culture, for instance, what utensils we use to eat, what we use to season our food, and what we use as beauty products to name a few. I decided to illustrate some of these differences in “一系列的漫画 (yí xìliè de mànhuà) comic series” which were painted by Cao Siyu, to help everyone understand one another a little better!

1. 餐具 (Cānjù) Tableware

First of all, something as simple as “餐具 (cānjù) tableware” is completely different between Chinese and French dining. In China, we use one utensil for almost everything – “筷子 (kuàizi).” Whereas French people usually set the table with “各种各样的餐具 (gèzhǒnggèyàng de cānjù) a bunch of different silverware” that “让我困惑不解了 (ràng wǒ kùnhuò bùjiě le) had me super confused” when I first moved to France.

(筷子礼仪五知道 (Kuàizi lǐyí wǔ zhīdào) Five Things You Must Not Do with Chopsticks)

Example:
Xuéxiào shítáng jìnzhǐ shǐyòng yícìxìng cānjù.
学校食堂禁止使用一次性餐具。
The use of disposable tableware is prohibited in the school canteen.

HSK 3 quiz
The source: tinyeyescomics (Instagram)

2. 调味品 (Tiáowèipǐn) Condiment

Secondly, what we put on the table to season the food is completely different. French people tend to use condiments common for westerners like “盐 (yán) salt” and “胡椒 (hújiāo) pepper,” while Chinese people always have “酱油 (jiàngyóu) soy sauce,” and “醋 () vinegar.” These are essentials in Chinese dish!

Example:
Zhōngguó pēngrèn shǐyòng de tiáowèipǐn yǒu jǐ bǎi zhǒng.
中国烹饪使用的调味品有几百种。
There are hundreds of condiments used in Chinese cooking.

HSK 3 quiz
The source: tinyeyescomics (Instagram)

3. 美容品 (Měiróng pǐn) Beauty products

And then there’s what we use for “美容品 (měiróng pǐn) beauty products.” Being a girl it was really hard for me to believe that westerners tend to like “美黑 (měi hēi) beautifying themselves by tanning,” while in China almost everyone loves whitening products and “美白 (měi bái) beautifying themselves through whitening treatments!”

(Cultural Shock: Is Being Tan Or Being Fair-skinned More Beautiful?)

Example:
Yuè lái yuè duō de niánqīngrén yuànyì bǎ qián huā zài měiróng pǐn shàng.
越来越多的年轻人愿意把钱花在美容品上。
More and more young people are willing to spend their money on beauty products.

HSK 3 quiz
The source: tinyeyescomics (Instagram)

So there you have it! My first three cultural difference between the West and the East. What do you think? Have you experienced anything like these before? Stayed tuned for another article Learn Chinese While Reading Comics (Part Two) that I will illustrate more of these interesting cultural differences!

HSK 3 quiz

Read the dialogue and answer the question below:

Xiǎo Xīn: Lì Li, nǐ hái yào zuò shénme ya? Wǒ děng nǐ hǎo jiǔ la.
小新:丽丽,你还要做什么呀?我等你好久啦。

Lì Li: Zài děng yíxià ma, wǒ tú wán fángshài jiù hǎo le.
丽丽:再等一下嘛,我涂完防晒就好了。

What does Xiao Xin mean? Please choose the best answer.

A. Xiao Xin complained that Li Li had kept him waiting for a long time.
B. Xiao Xin wants to know what Li Li was doing just now.
C. Xiao Xin told Li Li that he also wanted to wear some sunscreen.

See Answer Analysis

More Information About Chinese Culture You May Be interested in:
6 Surprising Taboos for Chinese New Year
Character Types of Chinese Traditional Operas (Part II)
What’s the Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese? Are They Both “Chinese?”

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