No one can tell me whether I should say ‘good morning’, ‘good evening’ or ‘good evening’. However, you must do that and you should never say ‘Goodbye my friend’, because then it could be interpreted in any way you chose.” (Zheng Xiang, The Chinese People’s Dictionary, page 1187.)
In fact, a similar “No Telling”, is used in Chinese writing for anything that is too informal or impolite. For example, if you utter the phrase “Good morning”, there’ll probably be no problem, but no one would say “Good day” to you, either.
Now this can be said for practically any other Chinese expression, including these other examples:
“Mum, why didn’t you tell me? Couldn’t I have saved myself trouble?” (Qingyi)
“What a shame that I didn’t pay the extra fee for a private tutor! This time around, I would’ve just had to pay it as a present myself!” (Hua Chun).
“Let’s buy the next movie together. We’ll go watch it together next time.” (Shao Hsiao).
“My wife, you really must hurry and clean the house again!” (Song Wei).
“Are you going to bed? You’re really going to sleep when you walk in?” (Chen Shui):
“If you don’t buy a second-hand dress, I will give you a ten-year contract.” (Sheng Yu).
“I must have told you yesterday that I had to do some work in the afternoon and tomorrow, so I should be able to make you some time off. What are you waiting for?” (Xia Xia):
“I’m not looking forward to spending Christmas with my family. I’ve already given them the money. Why should I waste another day?” (Xiao Jia):
“Is it alright for you to make me wear the same look every day? I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable.” (Li Yuen):
“If you don’t say hello, then I won’t like you anymore. If I don’t say goodbye, I won’t like you either.” (Gan Hai):
“What’s the matter with you? Don’t tell anyone what I’ll be doing with the money tonight. You won’t get it back for a while.” (Han Ying, a waitress at a restaurant in Guang
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