I went to a restaurant today, heard two foreigners commenting/complaining. I was not listening their words intentional, but some got my attention.

A: Fuc*ing Chinese people call "washing room" as "cesuo"...

B: They also call us "Lao Wai"....

I wanted to stand up and told them: It doesn't mean anything, please don't complain here...Considering I am not brave and my lazy English, I gave up...

Now I am thinking: is it really bad to call Waiguoren as Lao Wai?

How do you feel about being called "Lao Wai" or "Waiguoren"?

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Laowai sounds offensive

my friends, like you, never called me laowai

so, when someone says that on the streets, it feels offensive, plus, it is usually followed by laughter

 

waiguoren is ok, after all, we are foreigners =P

"my friends, like you, never called me laowai"

Sorry Leo. Sometimes I talked my closely friends of you as a "laowai"... but It didnt offensive, coz you just like my old friend, "lao wai"=old friend

Usually I call foreigner as "guo ji you ren"....

It's just a bit offensive in general to just point out/ at a stranger in the middle of the street and let them know you think they're different from you. It's not exactly hospitable or welcoming. I don't walk around England shouting FOREIGNER or OUTSIDER! every time I see someone who isn't local. It's pretty rude general behaviour and often foreigner has negative connotations in English, at least so far as being polite. IF you HAVE to say something, try 'friend' or 'guest' or something a bit more respectful. Rant over.

this.

what I think is the word "lao" has a lot of meanings. We call our wife"lao po" to show love; we call our boss" lao ban" to show respect; we call our old friend"lao you" to show friendship; we call our teacher"lao shi" to show the respect to knowledge. We even call our mum"lao ma" to show the family love. So Lao wai could be the combination of all the feelings. Just take it easy......

powerful thinking...I like it.

Not powerful at all (sorry Sun Hui), it is wildly simplistic and elementary in it's rhetoric. While "Lao" is used the way Sun pointed out, she neglected to mention the various sarcastic ways it is used. "Lao Da" and "Lao Ge" while being terms of respect can also be flipped to mean gangsters and are often used among close friends as a way of berating each other and poking fun. An example I have heard often in situations is the following:

Out with friends and dude's wife or girlfriend keeps calling him and bitching about him being out and she is telling him to go home. His friends will poke fun and say "Uh oh, "Lao da" says you must leave now" and then everyone laughs. Or he will announce, "Ok guys, I have to go home because "Lao Da" is pissed!"

Either of these examples can be substituted with "Lao Ban" as well which is often common too.

In neither of these situations is the word itself offensive it is the context and tone that makes the word offensive. For further understanding of this concept please refer to any of the late-great- George Carlin's stand up.

As a final note: In Boston 2008, I was walking through the city and overheard some Chinese exchange students talking about the way "His Mother's" "Lao Wai" were acting in the USA and I turned and curtly reminded him that "Grass Mud Horse" HE was the "Lao Wai" now and he could "Grass Mud His Mother's C**t" if he didn't like it. He was wildly confused as he was never a "LaoWai", while I countered that as soon as he left his country, he very much was a "His Mother's" "Lao Wai". His final statement was that he was a Waiguo Ren" or a "Liu Xue Sheng" at best but never a "Lao Wai". 

While I understand the meaning of "Lao Wai" is meant to be respectful, the tone and manner in which it is most often said makes it sound almost offensive at times. Both Leo and James explained this. The tone and manner in which it is said is what we find offensive NOT the word itself.

Another thing I notice is that when people are speaking about me, I am a "Lao Wai", when they are speaking to me, I am a "Waiguo Ren". People often become sheepish when they know I speak Chinese and have just referred to me as "Lao Wai" and immediately switch to "Waiguo Ren".

Now, my favorite word and it is making a comeback these days is the ever fun and useful "Yang Guizi". Use it in the third person in awkward situations for unlimited fun. Example: "As we all know, The "Yang Guizi" prefer to not use umbrellas when it snows as this is stupid."

Are you sure you are not Chinese? I discuss this topic with my Chinese friends, same theory!!!

About "yangguizi", with complicated feelings: sometimes angry, sometimes fun, even sometimes praise...Once a time my grandma saw my foreign friends pics, she said: zhen shi yi qun ke ai de yang gui zi a!

Waiguoren is better!

I dont find either term offensive.  But it would be nice if people had the decency to not talk about you, That I find rude.

"I went to a restaurant today, heard two foreigners commenting/complaining. I was not listening their words intentional, but some got my attention.

A: Fuc*ing Chinese people call "washing room" as "cesuo"...

B: They also call us "Lao Wai"....

I wanted to stand up and told them: It doesn't mean anything, please don't complain here...Considering I am not brave and my lazy English, I gave up...

Now I am thinking: is it really bad to call Waiguoren as Lao Wai?

How do you feel about being called "Lao Wai" or "Waiguoren"?"

 

 

....Considering you probably made this story up just to start a debate with foreigners.....

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