English Phrases in China that Drive Me Nuts

English Phrases in China that Drive Me Nuts

For better or worse, there are some English phrases that have become common use in China. I wonder if they'd be so common if they knew the stories behind some of them or just how much they annoy native speakers. Here are my top three English phrases that I really hope will die soon.   

Let It Go
Ok, so technically this is a song. But ever since the movie 'Frozen' came out and this song was everywhere, I couldn't use this phrase without someone bursting into song. Actually, just the fact that my mother in law tries to sound hip by singing 'leh ih guh' repeatedly to my son is enough to make it onto my list. The movie also seemed to result in every third female I know calling themselves Elsa, but that's another blog altogether.  

I'm Fine Thank You. And You?
Dear Chinese friends, I'll be brutally honest with you. If you utter this phrase in Australia, you'll be laughed at and then mocked behind your back. Actually, scratch that, they won't even wait until your back is turned. It's the equivalent of "hen gaoxing renshi ni" in China - overly formal and appropriate when meeting Xi Jinping at a state dinner, but definitely not suitable for everyday use.   

There's no need to say this when a simple "Fine, thanks." gets the message across and sounds so much more natural. Still, I see teachers and parents around me insisting on this exact wording, lest it offends the entire Western race. They would actually be doing us a favour by not teaching this useless phrase at all. Just stop it, please.

Oh My Lady Gaga!
So what do you do when 'Oh my god!' becomes overused and boring? Take out god and put Lady Gaga in its place. A brilliant stroke of genius, some kid under 10 thought when he/she uttered this phrase for the first time. I'm not sure why Lady Gaga was chosen for this dubious honour, either; that will probably forever remain a mystery. I only hear it occasionally now, but it was at its peak about 6 years ago when I heard it about 5 times per class. For example:

We have a test today - "Oh my Lady Gaga!"
It's break time - "Oh my Lady Gaga!"
It's raining in Peru - "Oh my Lady Gaga!" 
     
Even though this phrase has pretty much run its course, I still hear it now and again, which is why it makes my list.  

Come On, Baby!
For some reason, this phrase is seen as a cute and innocent in China. In fact, there's a TV ad playing constantly in Guangzhou where a boy sees a girl sitting down eating candy. He then harasses her by shouting "Come on, baby!" repeatedly and yelling, "Oh baby!" when she finally relents and gives him some. Maybe it's just me, but I'm sure there's a sinister leer on his face while he's shouting, which is even more disturbing. In Australia and New Zealand this has a more sinister meaning. It's often associated with sleazy men desperately trying to coerce women into dating or sleeping with them.

I'll give you an example. When I was in Australia a couple of months ago, there was a West Indies cricketer called Chris Gayle who made national headlines by awkwardly chatting up a female reporter. Among the many phrases used, it was the line "Come on baby, smile," that stood out. Women's groups were furious, angry viewers took to social media to vent their disgust and Gayle was briefly banned from playing as a result. 

Meanwhile in China, I see mums around me (it's always mums for some reason) playfully saying that to their sons or daughters when they call them over. This seems wrong on so many levels and is better not said at all.

Honorable Mentions

You're Getting Fat
Regardless of the culture you're in or how well you know someone, this is not a nice thing to say to anyone. Ever.  

Heyyyyyyyy, Sexy Lady!
No need to explain why. I'm especially tired of hearing my four-year-old son singing this.

I'm sure there are plenty of others that I've missed. I'd be interested to know which English phrases in China drive you nuts as well. 

This blog is contributed by user adb2014.  For more blogs of this user please click adb2014.

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Keywords: school China English phrases annoying English phrases

28 Comments

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1

Lauwrence
comment|70502|1625167

"It bad for the healthy"..... Aaarrgghh, look I've been drinking cold water for 43 years and I am still alive, my "healthy" will be fine!

Apr 21, 2016 10:18 Report Abuse

2

chitown
comment|70366|1624107

Almost everything I hear makes me crazy

Apr 15, 2016 11:08 Report Abuse

3

IslandBoy77
comment|70246|290805

A classic I meet almost every day at work: I ask "Why do you think that?" - They answer: "Yes". Every time, I have to follow that up with "But WHY do you think that?" - then I actually get an answer to the question. I've never actually been able to figure out why Chinese people, pretty much without fail for those under approximately IELTS 6 level, don't understand such a basic "wh" question...

Apr 10, 2016 12:47 Report Abuse

4

SenseiSteve
comment|70242|305724

"I very like..." I understand that it's a direct translation from Chinese to English, but seriously it's getting a little old now.

Apr 09, 2016 22:06 Report Abuse

5

sorrel
comment|70225|246226

and no-one said 'No Why' as the most retarded phrase trotted out.

Apr 08, 2016 18:20 Report Abuse

6

Guest2152316
comment|70223|239146

"Slip carefully" !!

Apr 08, 2016 16:54 Report Abuse

7

adb2014
comment|70219|287190

Oh, I've just remembered "How do you think of..." I see this a lot.

Apr 08, 2016 12:49 Report Abuse

8

kuntmans
comment|70210|307009

"welcome to please", "it's my extreme pleasure", "you want lady massage"?

Apr 08, 2016 12:15 Report Abuse

9

Kaiwen
comment|70193|91738

"In my daily life ......... " This utterly grinds me. No western person would say "In my daily life, I go shopping, watch TV and so on". Why the feck is this taught?

Apr 07, 2016 20:57 Report Abuse

10

royceH
comment|70190|27883

"maybe"....."so so". These responses are rarely acceptable in my classes. Well, they are acceptable, but I don't let them go without explaining that they're basically a crap response.

Apr 07, 2016 20:26 Report Abuse

11

tostada_halex
comment|70215|278022

Maybe is annoying for different reasons. - Do we need to work tomorrow? - Maybe. AGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Apr 08, 2016 12:31 Report Abuse

12

greenjenkins
comment|70184|246771

how about the great one, when you say thanks, they say 'no thanks' usually when somebody's english is this low, they can't pronounce the 'th' sounds so it usually sounds like 'no sex'

Apr 07, 2016 17:11 Report Abuse

13

elijahishmael
comment|70183|1584019

What about,"Ok,ok,ok!"?

Apr 07, 2016 15:15 Report Abuse

14

RandomGuy
comment|70189|1589639

"I like it very very very much!"

Apr 07, 2016 20:25 Report Abuse

15

The-Final-Say
comment|70182|233182

How about "When in Rome, do as Romans do!".

Apr 07, 2016 14:16 Report Abuse

16

RandomGuy
comment|70188|1589639

入乡随俗

Apr 07, 2016 20:24 Report Abuse

17

tostada_halex
comment|70216|278022

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9jaEvjrmlQ

Apr 08, 2016 12:34 Report Abuse

18

Guest2480492
comment|70177|275610

it's a little hot/expensive/strange etc for things that are in fact very sweet etc

Apr 07, 2016 12:50 Report Abuse

19

Guest2480492
comment|70176|275610

"wait a moment"

Apr 07, 2016 12:47 Report Abuse

20

Chhris
comment|70174|273557

'Wanna try this one? It is sooo delicious!' I keep telling people there are at least 5 ways they can say a food tastes good, no need to keep repeating 'It's delicious...'

Apr 07, 2016 10:40 Report Abuse

21

silverbutton1
comment|70173|227751

"take a rest."

Apr 07, 2016 10:29 Report Abuse

22

JohnathonSteel
comment|70172|1579661

"Please, you can have a try!" No. No I don't want any of your disgusting nong soup.

Apr 07, 2016 09:07 Report Abuse

23

RandomGuy
comment|70167|1589639

No "HALUO" and "HAO AREU YOO?", seriously?

Apr 07, 2016 07:43 Report Abuse

24

adb2014
comment|70181|287190

I didn't include those because I don't hear them often enough to get irritated by them. Keep in mind that this is based only on my personal experience and not meant to be read as a comprehensive A-Z list.

Apr 07, 2016 13:55 Report Abuse

25

tostada_halex
comment|70217|278022

Random Haluos or people suddenly speaking in English in front of you (when they actually were chatting in Chinese before you appeared)

Apr 08, 2016 12:37 Report Abuse