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Say It Right Series

Do you get left out of conversations?

Posted by xiaophil December 27, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

This thread made me think about conversations I have with Chinese people.

I had a student once who said that her mother-in-law rarely speaks directly to her.  At dinner, her mother-in-law will say things to my student's husband such as "Does your wife want more rice?"

Now that I have a baby, I notice I am a hit with middle-aged Chinese woman.  If I am out with my daughter, they love talking to me.  However, if I am out with my daughter and my wife, I am usually left out of the conversation.  I will try to join the conversation.  Then they often will say to my wife, "His Chinese is good," and then continue on without me.

Before having a baby, I noticed this as well.  I see a conversation in Chinese.  I know what is happening.  I try to join.  Whamo--left out.  

I have come to the conclusion that in China there isn't the concept that everyone should be included in a conversation.  I don't say this to complain (although I must admit it is frustrating at times).  I'm just wondering if I am the only one who notices this?  Is this something Chinese people teach?  It may sound ridiculous, but I have seen it happen enough times that I can't help wonder if this has something to do with Confucianism? Or is this just a normal thing when two cultures bump into each other?  Generally, the people that leave me out of conversations seem good natured enough.

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