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Say It Right: “Is the Tip Included?”

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What’s this price? Wait, is the tip included? Is the TAX INCLUDED? Why are there so many tipping customs?? So confusing!

French: Est-ce que le service est compris?
Spanish: ¿Incluye la propina?
Arabic: هَل البَقشيش مَحْسوب؟
Mandarin: 这里面包括小费吗 [Pinyin: Zhè lǐmiàn bāokuò xiǎofèi ma?]
English: Do you take American Express?

  • Jonas

    Here’s a fun fact: in Prague many restaurant receipts will say ‘tip not included’. This is strictly true, of course, since a tip by definition is money you give to your waiter or waitress in addition to the amount mentioned on the receipt. Nevertheless, Czech people will think you’re an imbecile if you tip (they have an unusually strong dislike of tourists to begin with).

    So the only real question really is whether you’ll look generous, ‘good’-stupid, rude, or bad-stupid if you tip.

    Why does the article use traditional Chinese by the way? Waiters in Mainland China will definitely not able to read it! In fact, a Chinese person on the mainland would sooner be able to read pinyin—although waiters are usually not able to do even that. And don’t even imagine you can read the pinyin!

    That Chinese translation looks weird anyway (even though my Chinese is limited). I can only assume the author used Google Translate. Oh, and of course there’s the fact that it’s easier to remember that no one tips in China than it is to remember that sentence!

    • Erica Ho

      Jonas, I don’t know what you’re talking about — that’s simplified characters. Alternatively, you can use 有小费吗 (yŏu xiăo fèi mă). Lovingly translated from a live human being.

      It’s just good-to-know stuff even if you’re in Asia where no one tips. I once used Spanish in Thailand!

  • Jonas

    Oops. I stand corrected on that. I don’t know how to read traditional and simplified Chinese and apparently I can’t even tell which is which!

    In any case, “Yŏu xiăo fèi ma?” strikes me as a significantly more natural thing to say. (But, again, my knowledge is limited.)

    Would they actually understand what ‘small fee’ means though?

    I mean, ‘tip’ is a culturally loaded term that to an American would more or less mean ‘service fee’ but Chinese waiters tend to be ignorant about the world outside of China. To wit, a Chinese waiter typically can’t even communicate the number 7 using their fingers in a way that a Westerner would understand. Once I was even asked if in Europe we shake our heads like Americans or like Indians when we mean ‘yes’.

    I notice that in that French sentence you cleverly used ‘service’ instead of ‘pourboir’, which is more descriptive and thereby avoids the problem.

    If you asked a French speaker “Le pourboir est-il compris?” would they reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’? I think you’d get mixed results.

    So how’s a Chinese waiter to know if he should answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

    (Hmmm. I noticed that my comments are longer than your original post. :-P)

    • Erica Ho

      Jonas, all good. Anyways, “tip” can be a pretty culturally loaded term but let’s face it, with all the different nuances that pretty much exist out there, we could spend a whooole day talking about this. And then to cover every single tipping custom in every country… aiyeah. Sorry if we didn’t satisfy you, Mister!

  • Vaibhav Gadodia

    You know, tipping is one of those things which is so hard to get right for a traveler. I came to this article really looking for so much more :) – but that’s alright.

    Keep up the good work.

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