2014年10月10日 星期五

"Hello Foreigner!" 你好,外國人

So I'm walking around the Beauty of Taitung Triathlon last weekend, taking pictures.  The place is packed, the sun is out, and I'm having a good time.  In the midst of my picture taking I walk up to the Jung Hua Bridge, looking for a better vantage point.  As I walk up, I have to maneuver around many other people, all of them waiting for the triathlon to start.  我上個禮拜在台東之美鐵人三項的活動中拍照. 天氣非常好, 而且到處都是人. 整個活動的氣氛讓我很開心.  我走上可以拍整個活動景觀的中華橋,  一路上橋的時候經過很多人.  他們都等著鐵人賽的開始.

"Hello!" someone yells behind me.  突然我後面有人大聲叫"Hello!".

...now I don't know about you, but when someone yells "Hello!" to the back of my head I tend not to bother with them.  Where I come from, we look people in the eyes when we say hello, or we at least make sure the other person is facing in our direction.  我不知道你會怎麼想, 但是如果有人在我背後說"Hello"! 我不是很想理他們.  在我的家鄉, 人們打招呼時會看著對方的眼睛,  或是等對方面對著我們.

"Hello!" the same voice says again. 後面那位又大聲地叫 "Hello!" .

...and still I have not turned around.  Why bother with people who don't understand that this is bad manners?  Keep in mind that I've already exchanged hellos with a dozen other strangers, all of them returning my wave or smile.  I try very hard to be polite, but even I have my limits.  而我也依然沒有轉過去看他.  我不想理這種沒禮貌的人.  這一路上我已經跟很多人打過招呼了, 他們全部都是揮手打招呼或是對我微笑.  我很努力的保持我的禮貌, 可是對於有些人我有時候也受不了.

...and then I hear footsteps coming up behind me, and a guy shouts into my ear:  "WHAT?  YOU DON'T SEE ME?!?!" 然後我聽到後面來人的腳步聲, 後面的那位先生在我耳邊大聲地叫: "WHAT?  YOU DON'T SEE ME?!?!"

So I turn around, not sure if I want to say hello or administer a beating, and this Taiwanese guy is running down the stairs behind me.  Of course it crosses my mind to run after him, but I decide to hold my temper.  Why make it worse?  Or why give him the satisfaction?  Why not just let it pass?  所以我轉過去看誰在大叫.  我那時候不確定我要打招呼還是打人.  結果看到一位先生跑下階梯走了.  我本來想去追他, 後來決定控制脾氣放他一馬.  我不想讓情況變糟,  追他就稱了他的心了,  算了.

Manners are of course different for different people, in different places.  Sometimes looking someone in the eye is a sign of respect.  Sometimes looking someone in the eye is a sign of disrespect.  Your manners are often determined by the culture in which you grew up, and your degree of connection (or disconnection) from that culture.  不同的人,不同的地方會有不同的禮貌表現.  有時候看著對方的眼睛是有禮貌的表現.  有時候反而是很無禮的.  你的禮貌跟你成長的文化背景有關係, 也與你是否尊重本身的文化有關係.

In an international context, where norms of behavior are always shifting, treating others with respect requires a kind of flexibility that is beyond some people, and they are not always to be blamed for this.  Good manners for Americans are not always good manners for the Taiwanese.  Good manners for a Thai is not always good manners for a Nigerian.  In dealing with those from other backgrounds, we have to be aware of where they come from, as much as who they are.  以國際性來說, 禮貌的習慣會改變.  所以每個人都需要保持變通.  但這不一定每個人都做得到.  美國人的禮貌表現不一定是台灣人認為的有禮貌,  泰國人的禮貌行為也不一定是尼日人的禮貌行為.  跟不同文化背景的人溝通的時候, 我們要清楚他們從哪裡來的.  他們的家鄉跟他們的人一樣重要.

In other words, it's not always good manners to say "Hello!" to the foreigner.  Sometimes it's just as important how you say something as what you are saying.  This is the essence of good manners, in that the means of communication are just as important as the information communicated.  換句話說, 跟外國人說"Hello!"不一定就是有禮貌的.  有時候你的說話語氣跟你說什麼一樣重要.  這就是禮貌的重點, 因為我們溝通的方法會影響我們要對方知道的內容.

It is possible that as a child you were encouraged to say "Hello!" to people from other countries, in their native language, if possible.  There's nothing wrong with that.  This is a good habit, if it is done well.  Yelling "Hello!" at the back of someone's head, however, is never good manners, regardless of who you are, where you are, and where you are from.  有可能你小時候被教著用美語跟外國人說"Hello!"  這是一個好習慣.  可是跟人打招呼時要有禮貌的行為.  這樣在人背後大聲叫"Hello!"是一件很沒禮貌的事情, 這不會因為你是誰, 還是在哪裡, 或是從哪裡來而改變.

Related Entries 相關的文章:

My Thinking Places 我的"思考地點"
Introduction 自我介紹: September 23, 2014 九月23日2014年
A Meeting 開會
Mixed Message*

2 則留言:

  1. I think that many Taiwanese people don’t have the concepts of being rude to Westerns. For examples, when a person is paying money at the checkout counters, the next person who is waiting on line should leave some space for the person in front of him/ her. But usually a Taiwanese will stand right next to the person who is paying and will not notice anything. Taiwanese people shout or speak up all the time. It doesn’t matter if they are fighting, greeting, or talking. They don’t realize that they bother others by shouting to their ears. Especially, yelling at the strangers behind them is the worst thing ever!

    Perhaps, next time, when you meet a person like that again, you can turn around and tell him “我不喜歡你在我耳朵後面大叫,下次請你走到我面前再跟我打招呼,好嗎?”

    1. Funny all the emails/comments/arguments I got over the weekend about this post. In a strange way, it seems to prove my point. Manners ARE different for different people!