Every week the TAs at EF have a staff meeting which is an online instructional audio meeting from the EF headquarters in Shanghai. But instead of going to one of the many large classroom we have to listen to these instructional audio sessions they sit in the head TA’s small office. It is always very amusing to watch because about ten TAs, all dressed the same, shove themselves into this very small office. I would compare it to a cage packed with chickens. Where there is no room to move at all.
Thinking that it would be funny I decided to illustrate the comparison visually. So I took a picture of the TAs crammed into the small office and I took a picture of a cage packed with chickens. I then photo shopped them on a computer next to each other and wrote “does this look familiar?” on the top. I printed it out and posted it on the wall.
All of a sudden, the head TA, Linda, came storming out and slammed the picture on my desk angrily. I didn’t understand why she was so upset. She refused to talk to me. I let her cool down and after a few moments went in to see why she was so upset.
In China, the word for chicken is ji (pronounced gee), and consequently the Chinese word for prostitute is Jìnǚ (pronounced geen’ew). So apparently if you call a woman a ji/chicken or anything that sounds close to the Chinese word for chicken it really pisses them off. So I was basically calling all of the TAs whores.
So my little joke of comparing the TAs sitting in the office to a bunch of caged chickens was not such a good idea. Well you live and you learn. I’m just going to chalk it up to another example of cultural misunderstanding.