Something I tend to get called a lot in Hong Kong is ‘斯文‘ (si1 man4), and up till now I still can’t figure out whether that’s a good thing or not.
At first, I took it as a compliment, since it means ‘cultured, refined, elegant and genteel‘ (bwahaha, genteel!!).
For instance, someone once said to me, “You’re so 斯文, seeing you brings a smile to my face,” (no joke) and I have also once heard, “You’re so 斯文, you must not be from around here.”
Today though, someone said it to me with a somewhat negative connotation, as if my si-man-ness was a bad thing. That got me thinking, what is it that makes me so damn 斯文??
- Is it because I don’t talk at 100 decibels when I’m on the phone?
- Sit and slouch with my legs wide open?
- Let out loud croaky burps whenever I feel like it?
- Push people around in the MTR like human bumper cars?
If so, I’d happily take 斯文 as a compliment, thankuverymuch!