Taking a break from the top ten countdown, but number #7 is a biggie so be sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming post.
There has been a lot of talk on the internet these days about the proper usage of the term “laowai.” One of my fans–a self-proclaimed “charter member of the YXS empire,” wrote in and asked my opinion. Well done my friend. I find myself in a unique position to answer this query. First, I am a well-educated member of the Shanxi elite. Second, I have had numerous dealings with foreigners, both members of the US military as well as a large group of ethnically diverse prostitutes.
First, is this term offensive? According to my understanding, it simply means that the person in question is not Chinese. So yes, it is highly offensive.
Second, how do people use this term? Here is the real surprise–I have never used it, not once. I prefer the term gaisidelaowai. When I am talking about Stillwell, however, I usually use the term tamadelaowai.