Friday, August 17, 2007

You know your in Taiwan when...

You walk into the corner store and the clerk shouts out to you. Oh "good morning" to you too!

Hey, wait a minute. It's five in the afternoon. Why did you just say good morning to me. And even more strange, why did I answer "good morning" instinctively???

That's because what you heard was "Huanying guanglin!
" (歡迎光臨 or "welcome"), not "good morning". It's a standard greeting at most stores with some sense of service. It can be said on entry or on departure from the store too. As one forum writer notes:

"Do you think people who work in these convenience stores develop a Pavlovian reaction, where every time they hear a ding, they involuntarily say, "Huanying guanglin!"

This misunderstanding has to be one of the most commonly shared Taiwan experiences of any English speaker just off the plane so to speak. And don't feel silly if you fail this lesson. Saying "good morning" to the clerk can't hurt. Just smile and go about your business. Welcome to Taiwan life.

The smile, by the way, goes a long way in any country.
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