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Table Manners between China and

Manners reflect ones personality. Table manners are art that reveals ones culture. There are
many table manners around the world. It is also necessary to learn more table manners because
of the rapid process of globalization. Using utensils, eating gestures, and serving food are
different between China and America.
Frist, using the utensils is different between China and America. In the United States, people
would like to put their plate on the table when they are eating. On the contract, people in China
would hold the bowl close to their mouth when they are eating, which is a polite action. When
setting the bowl for the guest, it is impolite in setting them parallel, which represents the bad luck.
People in America only use the spoon to eat dessert or drink soup, and they usually use the fork
and knife to eat entrees, but in China people prefer to eat with chopsticks and spoons. In
addition. It is rude if chopsticks are stuck straight up in the bowl; because it makes the bowl
similar to the tomb and Chinese people do not like it.
Second, the gesture when eating is different from China to America. People in America will think
that it is rude to make the sound made from chewing. But In China, if you are eating with a loud
sound, it will not be criticized, at the same time, the host will think that you must love the food,
and which will satisfied the host. In America, when having a party, it is liberal to leave before
others leave, but in China, people should not leave before all the people have already finished
their meal. Because leaving the table early might be considered you do not respect other people.
Third, the table manner of serving food is different from America to China. People always serve
food for themselves in America although their relationship is really close. Chinese people like to
serve guests food many times, and each time they might make the guests bowl full of food in
order to let the guests eat more and show their respect to the guests. On the other hand, if the
host serves a drink, you can reject it in America, but in China, you have to drink when the host
gives you some beverages, although you might not really want to drink. Because you have to
respect the host in table. In addition, if you want to cooperative with the host, the host might want
to cooperative with you because of your genuineness.
Overall, the table manner are different between China and America. And it is also an essential
knowledge to help you to understand other countrys culture. Furthermore, as long as you master
this knowledge, some awkward situations can be prevented.

Chinese and American Table Manners

For people around the world today, eating is life. But you cannot eat in whatever ways you like,
for you might bother someone else on the eating table. Thats why there are table manners: a
type of etiquette used when eating. Different cultures have different standards for table manners.
And next, we are going to compare the Chinese table manner and the American one. First, let us
begin with their similarities. Chinese people put communal chopsticks on the shared plates of
food, while the American uses forks and spoons as communal utensils on the dishes like the
salad bowl. Another thing in common is that they both forbid the playing with utensils. You cannot
wave them or bang them like drumsticks, or use them to move the plates. Your two hands are
asked to be in use.
Hold your bowls in the Chinese culture or grab the fork and knife with your hands in the American
customs. Do not let any of your hands does nothing but lay it on the table. If you want to place
your hand on the table, put it aside your plate. But these rules would be a demand too harsh in
casual situations like eating at home. There are too many differences between Chinese and
American table manners. Before presenting the differences, we would like to introduce some of
Chinese special manners. We should decide what to pick up before reaching for the food with
chopsticks. Do not hover around or poke looking for special ingredients. After you have picked up
an item, do not put it back on the dish. In addition, it is traditionally polite for the youngest
members of the table to address each and everyone of the elder members of the table before a
meal starts and literally tell them to eat rice, which means go ahead and start the meal.
This is a sign of respect to the elderly as they play important roles in Chinese traditional society.
The differences existed between Chinese and American table manners are much more than
similarities. First of all, American consider speaking loudly with mouth opened, seeing the food
that you are chewing in the mouth as improper and rude. But in Chinese culture, we often see
people speaking loudly with each other when eating; it is totally acceptable. Furthermore, it even
looks awkward for the Chinese when family and friends sit together at a dinning table without any
conversation; this silent situation may be reagarded as speechless and will make the party feels
embarrassed. Secondly, the dinning utensils used by the American, usually forks, can be held by
both right and left hands.
However, Chinese people consider holding chopsticks with left hand as impolite. Therefore, even
if you are a left-handed person, you still have to use your right hand. One possible explanation
for this restriction is that if there are someone using right hand and the other using left hand, their
chopsticks may collide with one another; this is a sign of conflict and should be prevented.
Thirdly, there is a very strict cultural taboo in Chinese table manner: never stab chopsticks into a
bowl of rice and let them stand upwards. A stick standing upwards symbolizes the incense sticks

offered to dead people. Thus, it is very offensive for Chinese people to conduct such an act. In
contrast, American culture has no idea of incense sticks and so it is acceptable to stab dinning
utensils on food.
A fourth difference between Chinese and American table manner is regarding whether one
should finish his or her food or not. For the Americans, it is acceptable in most cases to not finish
all of the food. Yet Chinese people have a saying that if you leave your food unfinished, you will
marry a person with a pockmarked face in the future. Although a lot of people often neglect this
warning, it is a virtue that is encouraged widely and educated to young children. Finally,
Americans serve their food by passing dishes around and each person takes his or her own
portion. As for the Chinese, dishes are put on the centre of the table and are picked up by the
people surrounding them. Table manner is an art that reveals ones culture. There is an old
Chinese saying: eating is the priority of people. This reflects how important it is to eat properly in
the right manner. Enjoy the exotic food and also try out the foreign table manner at the same
time; you will find eating more than a routine act for survival!
Comparative Research on Chinese and Western Table Manners
As Chinese reform and opening accelerates dramatically, transnational communication also
increases quickly. We must be willing to change in order to become an effective intercultural
communicator. We must be willing to communicate; have empathy toward foreign and alien
cultures; develop a universalistic, realistic approach to the universe; and be tolerant of views that
differ from our own. Intercultural communication offers the arena for this interpersonal contact.
Our abilities are improved according to international communication. Today transnational
communication is so frequent that table manners become more and more important. They make
not only the whole dining process more harmonious but also status of hostess and customers
more obvious and their communication more convenient.
Chinese and Western table manners have many differences in such aspects as tableware, table
setting, seating arrangement, behaving at the table and so on. According to comparative
research of these differences in this paper, it can help us analyze cultural differences between
Chinese and western from value concept, moral criterion, social relation, history and custom. In
this paper, the author is aiming at researching comparatively on Chinese and western table
manners and finding out the reasons. The purpose is to prove the importance of improving our
intercultural communication ability by means of doing the research on the different table manners
and culture between China and the west.

Different Table Manners in China and the West

Different Table Manners in China and the West
Food is so fundamental to our life so that all the other aspects of our living are influenced by and
built on it. Healthy daily meals ensures physical fitness for us to work and play. The diet has
become part of the culture. As culture various from country to country, so do table manners. It is
helpful for us to learn table manners in different countries, because there are more and more
international exchanges in the globalized world and banquet is an important part in such
Diet plays an important role in both China and Western countries, but table manners vary from
country to country. In China, banquet ceremony has become an indispensible part of peoples lives.
When a child is born, parents will invite friends and relatives to host a cerebration, Later on, when
the child is one month old and one hundred days old, similar celebrations will be held. During the
process of growing up, parents will hold a birthday party for their children every year. Even when
one passes away, funeral dinners will be offered by descendants to the deceased. On occasions
such as settlement of an issue and promotion, Chinese people will invite friends to dinner for
celebration and exchange. In short, banquet performs many social functions for Chinese people.
Unlike Chinese, people in western countries do not attach much importance to social functions of
diet. They think that diet ensures normal function of human body. They care more about the
benefits of food than its socialization roles.
Table manners are closely associated with the characteristics of Chinese and western banquets.
There are some similarities in table manners of China and the West. These rules show the
consensus between Chinese and Westerners on the proper way of eating. For example, it is
impolite for diners to smoke at table. Smoking is harmful to peoples health and considered rude at
banquet, unless permitted. It is advisable for people to sit straight up at the table to make a good
impression on others. Dinners should not talk with each other when their mouth is full. It is polite
Although there are some similarities in table manners, more obvious differences exist between
Chinese and Western table manners. Chinese people pay much attention to the content and
arrangement of dinner. They usually provide ten or more main courses at a formal banquet. The
more pompous the dishes are prepared, the more the hosts hospitality and the higher the hosts
status. In western countries, a banquet consists of no more than six dishes, and it is similar to
common dinner. In the U.S., friends may contribute to a dinner. They take their dishes to share with
each other amidst joyful exchange of ideas. What really counts is the relaxed and cheerful
atmosphere at dinner. Clearly, western banquet symbolizes freedom and relaxation.
In china , any banquet ,no matter for what purpose , is held in the same way .That is , people sit
around a round table eating, drinking and chatting. This creates an atmosphere of unity, happiness
and politeness. Delicious dishes are put in the center of the people and naturally become the
media by which people exchange their feelings and emotions. They toast to each other and drink
to their hearts content. It is a symbol of great union among Chinese people. In the west, people
have their dinner in a completely different way. They never eat food which is put in the same plate
or bowl .Each of them has his/her own share of the food placed in his/her own plate .This displays
individualism in Western culture. Westerners encourage individual freedom and independence.
Though they also sit around a table, each of them has his/her own set of tableware and own share

of dish. In this way they do not interfere each other. It seems somewhat cheerless and cold, though
it is healthy and clean. The individual has more say on the dish they choose. For example, when
you go to a western restaurant and ask for a share of steak, the cook may probably ask you
questions like: would you like roasted steak or fried steak., how long do you want your steak
cooked etc.The cook will prepare the steak strictly according to your request. Besides, seasons are
usually put on the table for guests to choose.
Before dinner, seat should be arranged by some rules. The seating order is different between China
and the West. In China, senior people or people of higher social status are often assigned the seat
of honor, for it is customary to arrange seat according to social rank and seniority. In feudal society,
Chinese women had not a single right and were not respected at all. They were, of course, not
allowed to attend a banquet. But this situation has changed a lot, as women have been paid due
respect now. Today, Chinese women do go to a banquet, they, however, often, play a minor role at
table, especially when going along with their husbands. Unlike Chinese, Westerners follow different
rules. They adopt the code of of ladies first in both seat arrangement and during the dinner.
When the banquet starts and dishes served, the chief female guest is the first one to be served,
and then other female guests. The hostess will be the last. After that, it is the turn for male guests.
When the dinner comes to an end, others cannot leave until the hostess stands up and leaves her
seat while gentlemen should move chairs for ladies to leave.
In addition to seating order, the order of dish served is also differen in China and the West. In
China, ordered dishes are usually served all at once. The order, however, still exists. Cold dishes
will come first with drink and wine, followed by hot dishes. The staple food comes then and the
desserts and fruits are served in the end. If there are many tables of guests in a banquet, the same
dish should be served for each table at once. In a formal Western cuisine, the first dish is usually an
appetizing one, such as salad. The first plays as a kind of prelude. The second dish is soup. When
Chinese people have dinner in a foreign banquet, they should never think that the soup means the
end of the banquet.
During dinner, Chinese people like to persuade others to drink and use their own chopsticks to put
food in the plate or bowl of guests to show politeness and hospitality. In China, it has long been
held that people should not eat alone, without considering others when many people dine together.
A person should not possess one kind of dish totally and he should not jolt his hot dishes in order to
make it cool quickly either, for it is not decent and polite. In the West, people do not act as
enthusiastically and courteously as the Chinese when they have a banquet. Westerners pay more
attention to personal independence.
If it is a formal dinner by government officials, huge amount of food will be ordered that is
impossible to finish. A typical meal begins with a set of at least four cold dishes, like boiled peanuts
and sliced cooked beef, to be followed by the main courses of hot meat and vegetable dishes.
Finally soup is served, followed by staple food, rice, noodles or dumplings. Chinese people tend to
over-order food, for they will find it embarrassing if all the food is consumed.
Generally speaking, there are many taboos in Chinese table manners. Over time, some have been
abandoned while others still remain. To name a few as follows: First, do not stick your chopsticks
upright in the rice bowl. Instead, place them on your dish. The reason behind it is that when
someone dies, the shrine set up for the deceased includes a bowl of rice with two sticks of incense
stuck upright in it. If you put your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, it looks like something in the

shrine and therefore inauspicious. Second, make sure that the teapot spout is not facing anyone. It
is impolite to place the teapot where its spout is facing somebody. The spout should be directed to
the place not occupied by anyone. Thirdly, do not tap on your bowl with your chopsticks. It is
inappropriate because beggars often tap on their begging bowls. It is impolite also because people
may tap on their bowls and saucers when the food comes slowly. If you are in someones home, the
tapping is insulting to the host.
In China, if you invite people to dinner, the person who invites others would pay for the meal. But
people in western countries usually think that it is not your responsibility to make payment though
you invite them. They may prefer to go Dutch. They will not be happy if you pay for them. Chinese
hosts and hostesses would like to put dishes into guests plate to show their hospitality. In formal
dinners, there are always public chopsticks and spoons for this purpose, but some hosts may use
their own chopsticks. This is a sign of friendship and politeness. But westerners may think it
unhealthy to do so because their chopsticks have been used by themselves. It is western practice
to give tips to waiters or waitresses after they have finished meals in a restaurant. If you refuse to
give tips, they will be unhappy because tips are a major source of their income.
On dinner tables, the most obvious difference is the choice of their table wares. Chinese people use
chopsticks to pick rice and dishes, whereas western people cut food with forks. The thin and long
chopsticks cannot be used to cut food, so we usually use our teeth to cut food. We hold the food,
meat or vegetable, with chopsticks, deliver them to mouths, bite off part of it and keep the rest on
the chopsticks. That is the usual and acceptable way we Chinese eat. But these habits may be
deemed rude in western countries.
Among the tableware, knives and forks are two kinds of table wares with very long history in the
west. With knife in one hand and the fork in the other, Westerners cut and put food into the mouth
with the fork. This has become a daily habit of people when they are eating.
What Chinese people care about is the delicacy of food .They emphasize the idea of using some
cooking skills to unite and harmonize the tastes of foods which have different natural properties,
Chinese people value the similarity of different things. According to their traditional idea, they tend
to seek the relationship between two different objects, and make them adapt to each other. So
they value the unity of different tastes and they always try to put food of different natural
properties into one. And food of different nature will achieve unification. Since the westerners
believe in separation of the universe and human in their cultural spirit, they emphasize the form
and structure and value hygiene and nutrition. They believe in separation of the universe and
human world. Diet of balanced nutrient is the most important concern for them. But Chinese
people consider it important to make the proper match of food out of a variety of raw materials.
Cooking of different raw materials achieves a unified good taste and nice flavor. Chinese way of
cooking is not only to meet the physical needs but also to satisfy the psychological and aesthetic
needs. For example, the taste of crab lobster and sea fish is completely different. Westerners will
not mix the tastes of them to prepare a dish. Therefore, understanding of Chinese dishes from a
cultural perspective can help Westerners appreciate Chinese meals and accept Chinese table
Having good table manners show respect and decency to others with whom you eat together.
Chinese and western table manners have their own characteristics deeply rooted in their
respective culture. Chinese table manners is the product of an agricultural society, reflecting
collectivism and unity. In contrast, western table manners is the outcome of industrialized
civilization, valuing individualism and independence.

Though table manners change over time, much remains and calls for our attention and compliance.
As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Below is a passage submitted by my friend Jane. Jane's works are in black. My

corrections are in blue. I try to keep Jane's ideas and style as much as possible.
Jane has to certain extent mistaken the title as being the custom rather the
etiquette between the two cultures. Etiquette means manner ( ) at a dinner
table. which includes the way one eats, talks or sits at a table or time to arrive
at a dinner or time to leave. Anyway, it is not an easy subject. Jane has handled
it quite well. In the first two paragraphs she is writing about the customs
between the cultures, but she returns to the subject at the last two paragraphs,
but apparently she could not write in English. Anyway, Jane, a job well done.

I think there are big different etiquette at table between east and west. First,
they use different utensils, west people use a lot of utensil like forkspoon and
knife, but east people just use simple utensil, such as chopsticks even as India,
straight use their right hand. There are differences and similarities between the
etiquette at table between the eastern and western cultures. First of all, let's talk
about the differences. The westerners use silverware such as forks, knives and
soup spoons, which are made of stainless steel, while easterners use chopsticks
and soup spoons (made of porcelain). In certain part of India, people eat with
their handswhich is handled unacceptable in the western cultures
Moreover, table setting are also differences. For example, Chinese considered left
is an importance place than right, opposite, west people common like right as
honorable. Moreover, the dinner table and table seating arrangements are
different between the two customs. The dinner table for the west are mostly
rectangle while the east are round. As for seatings, the western custom is that
the host will sit at one end of the table, while the eastern custom is that the host
will sit facing the door.
You are right. In addition, they have differences in ways of eating food. In China,
all people could eat food what he or she like on the table. All dish are public, but
you cant I dont know how does to translate
this sentenceThat behavior considered not good manner. In addition, there
are differences in the ways foods are served between the two cultures, the
westerners serve a dinner by courses and one course, or plate, is served after
another, and each person has his own choice or portion of his foods served
separately. However, the eastern culture, or the Chinese culture, has the foods
served very much at the same time and they are not served separately to each
individually. Therefore, in a Chinese meal, the foods are shared among the
people at the table. It is considered bad manner for a person to use his
chopsticks turning foods in a plate upside down to pick what he likes.
But they are has some same Etiquette too. Like, cant put your elbow on the
table. Dont talk with anyone when your mouth full with food. In ancient china
formal occasion, when king feasts his ministers with individual serving. Now let's

talk about the similarities, For both cultures, it is considered impolite for a person
to put his elbows on the table or to talk with foods in his mouth