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“May I kiss you?” This phrase is one of the running gags among Chinese learners (and teachers) when teaching the basics of Chinese pronunciation. As is well known, Chinese is a tonal language, which means that raising and lowering the voice according to certain patterns is relevant to meaning. So if you mess up the innocent contact phrase 请问 qǐng wèn “May I ask you something?” (literally, “please ask”) suddenly turns into an accidental flirt attempt, namely 请吻 qǐng wěn “May I kiss you?” (“please kiss”).

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