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There are so many intricacies to being polite in China. Living in China for over 12 years hasn't taught me even half of what I'd need to know. I don't think one can decide whether a society is polite or not based on one or two phrases.

Comparing what constitues politeness in China and in America is an interesting topic. In China, it is polite for younger people to greet their elders with the proper title (e.g. Grandfather Li, Second Auntie, etc., uncle) when meeting them. In America, teens will often go into people's houses without so much as a "hello". It's funny how far Chinese people will take this. Even children who can barely talk are strongly encouraged to greet their elders appropriately, and for most kids, grandfather (爷爷 yéyé), auntie (阿姨 āyí), grandmother (奶奶 nǎinai) and uncle (叔叔 shūshu) are probably among a childs first 10 words.

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After traveling to 30+ countries, China multiple times, and currently living in Japan, the last thing I associate with China is politeness.

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You're still stuck in your narrow view of politeness. The concept of politeness is not a constant, but a variable that changes throughout various cultures.

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"Politeness" is not an objectively-quantifiable one-dimensional characteristic of a culture, sure. There are smaller traits that are quantifiable, though.

"Care taken around inattentive strangers", for example: the difference between assuming it's someone else's fault if they stand in the road, and assuming it's your responsibility to not hit someone standing in the road.

Or "empathy for people who don't know your customs", for another: the difference between expecting foreigners to already know how to be polite in your locale, being willing to teach foreigners local etiquette, and feeling a responsibility to learn multiple foreign cultures in order to react to each foreigner with the etiquette of their own culture, which is a truly strange feeling I've only experienced while in Japan.

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My comment didn't say that China is or isn't polite. I just said the discussion of politeness can't be reduced to the usage of one or two phrases.

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I recently watched American Experience's Silicon Valley. I was a bit shocked by the lack of diversity in the those early companies (Fairchild Seminconductor, AMD, Intel, etc.). Andy Grove, a Hungarian, seemed to be the most diverse of the bunch.

There wasn't even a token Black, Asian, or Indian in the company photos I saw.

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>I think the disillusionment exists, especially among the youth and democratically-minded.

This. Except older, middle-class people are even more disillusioned than the young. As a rule, older Chinese people won't talk about their disillusionment, but those who lived through the 50s and 60s faced huge obstacles. They live lives of quiet desperation.

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The Memory Palace is so good. I wish Nate DiMeo had more time to produce it. I love how Roman Mars from 99% Invisible ripped off Nate's intro.

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Reminds me of another Hippo story, the U.S. Hippo Bill that was proposed to farm Hippos. http://www.wired.com/2013/12/hippopotamus-ranching/

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Point of fact, there is a lot of competition between companies inside of China. In many instances, there is more competition inside China than there is in the US.

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Here's a breakdown of who gets what fees during payment processing:

1. Credit Card issuer. They get the bulk of the fees because they assume all cardholder risks. Besides fraud risk, they also care about the riskiness of the loan to the cardholder.

2. Gateway / Third Party Processor. The gateway helps a merchant process some part of the fees(e.g. tokenization, authorizations, settlements, etc.). Generally, they get a smallest percentage of the transaction. Authorize.net or Stripe would be examples of these.

3. Merchant's bank. They basically buy a merchant's credit/debit sales. They get a percentage of the transaction. If your transaction volume is high enough, you can probably convince your bank to lower your rate.

4. Visa/MC. Technically, they don't get anything. However, banks are required to pay dues in order to offer or process MC or Visa cards.

Some other things to note:

Online sites often use a Gateway directly and don't have a merchant bank. In those cases, the Gateway is acting as both a gateway and a merchant's bank.

Issuing banks (the bank that gives customers a credit card) charge higher fees for reward cards so that they can provide customers with rewards. Rewards cards are annoying for merchants because one can't always tell if a card is a reward card or a regular credit card. Additionally, fees for different rewards are different. These fees can be found in the voluminous fine print in your credit card agreements.

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I've been pushing together a lot of Chinese functionality into this Ruby library: https://github.com/stevendaniels/zhongwen_tools

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That's kind of funny, would they have removed all of the readings borrowed from China? What would Japanese sound like without any borrowings?

Historically, the Japanese people have been very willing to borrow words from other languages.

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China wasn't an "enemy", the Japanese had already conquered large swathes of it. The US and Britain were.

And yes, you can write "pure" yamatokotoba if you try hard enough (see eg. Shinto prayers), but the end result is as contrived as trying to write English without Latin, Greek or French loans.

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Uncleftish Beholding (1989) is a short text written by Poul Anderson. It is written using almost exclusively words of Germanic origin, and was intended to illustrate what the English language might look like if it had not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncleftish_Beholding

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I talked with Professor Moser before and his article happened to come up (it always seems to). He agrees with you about Chinese becoming more approachable.

Brendan O'Kane, a translator, said it pretty well: learning Chinese use to be a vocation, something you'd do for your entire life. That's no longer true, which is a good thing.

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