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My English literature teacher, Scott once told us a true story. It went like this : One day, when he was walking in the campus, there came a girl student who he knew, waving to him and saying hello, so he helloed back. Then the girl asked, "Have you eaten dinner yet? " Naturally, he thought she was treating him for dinner, with a empty stomach, he said, "Not yet". Then the girl said, "oh I see, See you later" He got so awkward. |
Later he learned that it's simply a way of greetings, which foreigners might feel uncomfortable with. So don't expect a Chinese will buy you dinner when he or she asks if you have eaten or not. Just anwer with Yes or No, wave goodbye , That's all. Where does this come from? "Have you eaten dinner yet? " in Chinese "Chi Le ma" Well, at the early stage of New China, the living standard was so low that people could barely have adequate food and clothing, so people started showing their care to each other by asking this kind of questions.
Of coure we know that the most common way of greeting is to say "Ni Hao", which means Hello.
Another way you may feel bizzare is that some one may come to you and say"You look tired today, Are you OK? " This may make you feel bad and get you very self-conscious. Do I look horrible? But in fact, the way of greeting is just to show someone cares about you, Chinese feel very comfortable asking this kind of questions, So you don't need to take it seriously.