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Glossary

(a work in progress)

ABC. Abbreviation for American-born Chinese, a person of Chinese descent who was born in the United States and grew up in American culture.

bu hao yisi. A polite phrase used to express regret or embarrassment, the casual equivalent of “sorry” in English.

dim sum. A Cantonese-style brunch consisting of many small treats, dumplings, and buns served from competing food carts wheeled around a large banquet-sized room. Favorites include: shrimp dumplings, turnip cake, glutinous rice with Chinese sausage, bbq pork buns, egg custard tarts, fried sesame balls with lotus paste filling. The term translates literally to mean “little hearts.”

FOB. Abbreviation for fresh off the boat. Refers to a person who has recently emigrated to the U.S. and is still immersed in his or her native culture. This disparaging term was originally used to exclude and mark Asian immigrants as strange and awkward. In recent years, the word has been reappropriated by Asian Americans to embrace (and sometimes laugh with) their cultural heritage. See Accidental Chinese Hipsters.

hapa. A Hawaiian word that over time has come to mean someone who is part Asian, part white, or more broadly, anyone of mixed heritage.

laowai. A sometimes endearing, sometimes derogatory name for foreigners, usually caucasian, in China. Other variations include waiguoren, yang guizi (foreign devil), guilo (in Cantonese), dabizi (big nose).

long time no see. A common pidgin phrase that derives from the original Chinese, hao jiu bu jian.

REEB. One of the cheapest beers available in China, produced by a subsidiary of Heineken. The name is beer spelled backwards.

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