Cultural Difference

Interesting but useless? (from the book of "Useless Japanese Inventions Chindōgu")

Sitting in the middle of a group of senior high-profile people, I was the interpreter for a visiting scholar from China at his closing formal dinner.

The chairman of the hosting organization asked this scholar, "What was the most interesting thing you observed during your visit in the US?"

I did my job and made sure to use "interesting" in my Chinese question.

The scholar looked at me longer than usual, and said to me in a lower voice.
"Alice, I have been to many of these formal concluding events in China, and nobody has ever asked me for the most "interesting" thing before."

I took it as if he was talking to me, instead of asking me to translate this to the chairman. Therefore, I asked him in Chinese in a lower voice, too.

"Really? Then what would people ask you in China?"

He said, "They only ask me to share the most "useful" thing I learned, which is rarely the most interesting thing at all."

Can you see the difference now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha, I like this.