Learn to TEACH English with TECHNOLOGY. Free course for American TESOL students.

TESOL certification course online recognized by TESL Canada & ACTDEC UK.

Visit Driven Coffee Fundraising for unique school fundraising ideas.

Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Travel, Teach, Live in China

A Brief Note on Foreign Devils in China...LOL
In Response To: What is it like teaching in China (lao)

As a white female, you're going to get stared at. Blatantly. IT's something that ALL of the female teachers I talk to said is something that they had to adjust to. They also get hit on a lot. So, be prepared. One teacher had to dye her hair black to keep people from asking about her hair and just touching it without permission.

Yes, that is a typical situation most likely to occur in some backwater places in China (well, I am not female but I have (had) blond hair (now it's grey..hahaha!)).

Traditionally, in China, the average person has a quite common sense of how people look pretty/ handsome somehow: Black hair, thin nose, neatly built like an average Chinese person, etc. A European or North American from the West, typically with a long nose and some blond or lighter-coloured hair, does not fit the ordinary Chinese sense of looking attractive. In Chinese folk tales/legends, you can find descriptions of bad, supernatural figures, either demons or some kind of other monsters, looking like that - long nose, blond or non-black-coloured hair, etc. Chinese people would call them

鬼子 guǐ zǐ (bad) ghosts, spirit

Around the midst of the 19th century (1840+), when British soldiers fought the Opium Wars which lead to a situation of colonising major parts of China, some of them were blond, and most had a long nose (長鼻子 cháng bí zǐ ). From that time on, two less respectful expressions became known in colloquial Chinese to refer to Western foreigners:

長鼻子 cháng bí zǐ Long Nose

洋鬼子 yáng guǐ zǐ (洋 yáng "ocean" + 鬼子 guǐ zǐ "bad spirit/ghost", "devil"), thus:
"devils from across/afar the ocean" meaning "foreign devils".

Both Long Nose and foreign appearance are not considered "good look(ing like)" in China, and hence these expressions are used in a derogatory sense when referring to foreigners with them.

These days in China, Chinese people, especially in the big cities, are used to see and have contact with foreigners. And the younger generations of native Chinese also show a somewhat modified attitude: I have heard several young Chinese girls say "this man looks very handsome" when pointing at a picture of a foreign young male applicant for an ESL job in China at a certain school.

Now, my generation at the age of 60 or above, we do not look any longer this way, and I am not sure whether foreigners like us, at our age, are not looked upon as "foreign devils" still nevertheless. If we still are, for my person, I can take it with humour; I then would make fun of it and say "I am a crocodile". But when people then start laughing, I can laugh, too. And perhaps, this is a point of departure to understand and respect each other.

If so, I take pride in being a 洋鬼子 yáng guǐ zǐ . Or perhaps even better, I would very much like to look like Frankenstein or Dracula to make some fun of it..gggrrr..LOL!

Messages In This Thread

What is it like teaching in China -- lao
Re: What is it like teaching in China -- Turnoi
Re: What is it like teaching in China -- Gerry Tipton
Re: What is it like teaching in China -- Chris Clancy
Cut Loose At 50 -- Crane
A Brief Note on Foreign Devils in China...LOL -- Turnoi
Re: A Brief Note on Foreign Devils in China...LOL -- Evensteven
"Devil" or not "devil" -- Turnoi

Go to another board -