What Did You Just Call Me? Tips on Understanding Chinese Insults

From Shakespeare's pithy put-downs to insinuating someone knows his own mother in a biblical sense, the art of insulting people is strange, extremely colourful and varied across cultures and dialects.

Insults around the world often relate to bodily functions, intelligence, incest or social status. China's insults are no different. Many of the insults, especially the cruder ones, are obvious once you know a few words, and for the language student those words (hint: think genitalia and mating) can be found in most dictionaries and even on Google Translate.

But some of the best insults are more nuanced than just exchanging someone's given name with a four-letter epithet. While I am by no means an expert, here some of my personal observations on insults in the Middle Kingdom:

  Jibe-slinging practice with yak. Photo: Read More>>

7 Common Scams in China and How to Avoid Them

Although China is relatively safe compared to other countries, there are still dangers. City life is never 100% crime-free – there are pickpockets, unscrupulous shop owners, and dodgy taxi drivers everywhere. Although personal safety is mostly common sense, knowing what to look out for can make a world of difference. Here are some common scams you might encounter in China, and how to stay one step ahead.

1) The teahouse scam A lot of people fall f... Read More>>

Lost in Mistranslation

I’ll start by coming clean – after nine years in China, my Chinese still isn’t very good. The main reason, I think, is the lack of incentive. I speak to my wife and sons in English and it’s the main language at my work as well. Now, my workmates speak the language quite well but they’re comfortable with basic, functional English. They’re not so familiar with some of the more advan... Read More>>

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