Why Many Chinese People DONT SAY SORRY

Frankly speaking, as a Chinese who grew up in China, I never thought that there was something wrong not saying sorry in many situations, until my foreign friends and students told me that they think Chinese people are rude because they didnt apologize to them.

Before we jump into conclusion, I would like to talk about the Chinese words for sorry. There are two common words for sorry, one is (dubuq) , and the other one is (bhoysi). lets see what are the differences.

(dubuq) has a stronger tone and meaning than(bhoysi), Chinese people would say du bu q when they apologize for doing something wrong or something that let people down.

Let someone down

  • w zu le tidu huish w dubuq w de fm.

    I did too many bad things, I let my parents down.

Whereas bhoysi may be more casual and can be used in many different situations(showing politeness ,sorry, shy or embarrassed) .


  • w hn xing t dnsh w bhoys gos t.

    I miss him, but I am too shy to tell him.

  • bi losh dngzhe t t hu bhoys de.

    Stop staring at her, she will be shy.


  • n knng hu ynwi fn le cuw jud bhoys.

    You may feel embarrassed for the mistakes you made.

So, Chinese people may not use dubuq a lot because people dont normally make many serious mistakes everyday, so its not necessary to say dubuq. But people do say bhoys quite a lot when causing inconvenience to others. Some times people dont say sorry just because they dont think its a big deal. Or there are some people who are just simply rude and inconsiderate.


Now lets talk about saying thank you. There was once when I was standing in a line with a friend from Spain, and the person in front of us let us go first because he was waiting for his friend, I said hao and went through the gate without saying thank you. My friend asked me: why didnt you say thank you? I was embarrassed and didnt know what to say, but that got me thinking. I say thank you a lot in my daily life and dont consider myself as a rude person, but why didnt I say thank you? Is it because I took other peoples kindness for granted or I am ungrateful?  

And one interesting fact is that in China, a lot of the people dont say  Thank you to their families. There is a saying in Chinesey ji rn b shu ling ji hu, which means you dont need to say those polite expressions if you are family. Its consider very normal for family to help each other, there is no need to say thank you, and saying thank you may suggest that you are not close enough.

The above contents are provided by  Shenzhen Hanlin Language Center.

Supervisor: Crystal Huang

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