In this article, you will learn appropriate language for taking a taxi and be able to start a basic dialogue with the driver. It's worth noting that"driver" in Chinese is "sījī 司机". But this word should only be used to refer to the occupation. We don't call them"sījī 司机"directly, as it is considered a bit rude. Instead, we call the driver "shīfu 师傅", which means"master."There are other jobs like chef, decorator, architect, mender, engineer, etc, in which craftsmanship is the key part of the job. So "shifu 师傅" is also used when speaking to these individuals. It shows respect.
Back to the topic of taking a taxi, it is easy to take a taxi anytime or anywhere, especially in China's big cities. When you see a taxi, the only thing you have to do is wave your hand. But the way you wave your hand may be different than how you might do so in your home country. It is not usually the kind of hand wave like that when you wave"hello"or "goodbye"to someone (when the arm is help up and the open hand is extended up, waving from side to side.) To wave at a taxi the hand is extended in front of you and then waved up and down from the wrist. After you get on the taxi, 师傅 will ask you"where are you going?"
In Chinese it will be: 请问你去哪里?
qǐnɡwèn nǐ qù nǎlǐ? (Actual translation: May I ask where you are going?)
请问 means "May I ask....", you can use these two words in front of any kind of question, it's the polite way of asking for something; 你 means"you"; 去 means "to go"; 哪里 means "where", an interrogative word to ask the place.
If you cannot speak Chinese, it's OK. Just show 师傅 the address in Chinese characters. Point to the address and say"I want to go to this place."
The Chinese is: 我去这里。(wǒ qù zhèlǐ.) 我means"I"; 去: means "to go. "; 这里 means "here".
However, be aware that sometimes the driver only knows the approximate address or location. In that case, if you do know the way, then you have to know the basic commands for directions.
1. zuǒ ɡuǎi / zuǒ zhuǎn
左 拐 / 左 转: turn left.
2. yòu ɡuǎi / yòu zhuǎn
右 拐 / 右 转: turn right.
3. yì zhí zǒu
一 直 走: go straight.
4. diào tóu
掉 头: turn around.
When you arrive at your destination, ask the driver to stop the car.
In Chinese it is: 请停在这里。(qǐnɡ tínɡ zài zhèlǐ.)
Also, in China people do not accept tips. Many consider it an insult to be offered one. So you only pay the fee shown on the meter, and you can pay it by cash or transportation card. And don't forget to take the receipt before you get out of the car. This is important in case, for instance, you realize you left something in the taxi. The taxi company can find the cab from the information on the receipt.
Watch this video, it will help you learn how to take a taxi in Chinese easier.
Lilian Li has a master's degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France.