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Found in translation episode 7

ShanghaiCityGirl May 13.2015 12:03
Tags: Language & Culture Category:My Blogs

China is not for everyone. For the uninitiated audience, a quick recap: learning Chinese is a must for daily living; you are always beset by a crowd while commuting, and your personal privacy bubble is bound to be burst on a regular basis; and local habits will challenge everything mama taught you about acceptable public behavior. Hence, expats either leave China asap, stay and laugh it off, or stay but ’ complain ‘ til the sun goes down (and then complain about time difference back home). This last type will gripe for hours about how 'unprofessional' this and that is and how things are better in other places. And if you tell them ‘This is China, you just need to accept it’ , they reply ’This country will never change because of that attitude!’


To honor this last type (and maybe validate their ‘hardship’ by with a special name) the term tǔ cáo 吐槽 was coined in 2014.” 吐” means to “spit,” and “槽” is a “trough” or “tank. This phrase came from a Fujian dialect, and the literal meaning is ‘spit into other people’s bowls’. Nowadays, people use it to describe those who make sure that everyone knows about their suffering.


I really don’t want to come off as a perfect laowai who looks down on her brothers and sisters here: When I came to China 2.5 years ago, I did my share of complaining, too. I've been there. At the very beginning, when I started as an au-pair in a beautiful but wild Chengdu, I had a real lesson in survival. I lived with a tu-hao-ish family that scrutinized me non–stop behind my back but showed me their pearly whites during dinner. Plus, at that time my Chinese skills were on their fours, and their English was below communicative level.


Since then, I've learned a lot. And although my friends know I still have my moments now and then, I try to apply ‘molo molo’ ( my favorite French phrase for ‘take it easy’) attitude every time I feel my last straw might drop. And since it is the beginning of the year, I encourage you to do the same. Maybe as a resolution. Instead of being tu caos and spitting into other people’s bowls, be molo molo and cherish the Chinese experience. It is unique and life-changing.




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About ShanghaiCityGirl

My name is Gosia and I come from Poland. I set up my blog - Shanghai City Girl - out of my passion for writing,Chinese language and Shanghai itself.My goal is to explain Chinese slang and peculiar local culture, give tips about health and saving money in this overwhelming city!

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