In certain situations, formal or informal, there often different rules in different countries and cultures about polite standards of what to do or what to say. In some cases, these standards can affect what we say and how we say it.
Taiwanese English #4: Etiquette
A: …we got married last month.
B: Congratulations, when will you have a baby?
Nowadays, traditional attitudes to marriage and having are children are changing all over the world, so avoid asking questions about marriage or children to people who you don’t know very well.
“Congratulations” is enough. If you really need to ask the question, then ask an open, indirect question.
B: Congratulations. I hope it’s not rude to ask but are you planning to have children?
Here are some cultural language mistakes common in Taiwan, with explanations and corrections.
A: How long have you been working?
B: I’ve been working for about 10 years.
A: Really?? You look so young!
In English, we tend not to make direct comments about people’s appearance, especially if we don’t know them very well, or if the comment is not very complementary.
Here are a couple of options:
A: Are you a high school student?
B: No actually, I’ve been working in finance for about 10 years.
1. Pay a compliment
A: Really? Wow, you look great for your age!
2. Change the subject
A: Oh right, which company do you work for?
A: Wow, you look so handsome!
In English, we don’t always use ‘handsome’ in the same way we use 帥 in Chinese. If you simply want to complement a man on his appearance, it’s a bit more natural to say something like ‘nice outfit/ you look great/ nice shirt etc…)
A: Nice shirt!/ Wow, looking good!
B: Oh, thanks very much!