Learning by language bloopers

  Today I was learning some useful cultural differences between China and the west.

  We were discussing that in China it is not the done thing to lick your fingers (and I understand that you don’t usually eat with your fingers either – so beware if you are planning a buffet for your Chinese friends!). In the West while it is maybe not very polite to lick your fingers, at least where I come from people don’t really have a problem with it. In order to explore cultural differences a bit further, and to get some more spoken Chinese practice, we then talked about other things that you are allowed or not allowed to lick. I suggested that:

在英国你可以舔邮局

In England you are allowed to lick post offices!

邮 yóu – is the word for post, and 局 jú is the word for office

I eventually got it right

 

在英国你可以舔邮票

Where again 邮 yóu means post, and 票 piào literally means ticket, so together, 邮票 means a stamp.

  Hopefully I haven’t left my teacher with visions of Westerners licking buildings! But this lesson will stick in my head partly because of the language mistake I made along the way…