in Chinese, here's something very funny that actually happened to me last week!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, a great way to practise your Chinese it to get a massage from someone who only speaks Chinese, and it's easy to find someone in Hong Kong like that, at a reasonable price.
So last week I was getting a massage from someone who I have not had before, and she was spending too long on my back, so I wanted her to move on to do the rest of the body, starting with my legs.
Chinese digression: The phrase 可以吗? (kěyǐ ma) literally means "is possible?" - and is often used in the context of asking permission, or making a request. So if I used the well-known topic-comment structure, I could say “电影可以吗？” (diànyǐng kěyǐ ma?) - which would literally mean "Movies, is it possible", but ultimately I'm asking "How about we go to the movies?"
So back to my massage, I was wanting to get her to move from my back to my legs, so using the exact format as above, the conversation went like this:
Greg: 我的腿可以吗？ (My legs, is it possible?)
Massage lady: 你的腿很性感！ (Your legs are very sexy!)
This left me very confused for a moment! Was she hitting on me? Did I mishear her? What else could 'xing gan' mean?
Then I realised, the sentence structure "X kěyǐ ma?" can also mean "What do you think about X?" So if I said "diànyǐng kěyǐ ma?" while coming out of a movie, I could in fact be asking "What did you think of the movie?"
So while I thought I was asking her if she could please massage my legs now, she thought I was being weird and asking her what she thought of my legs. She probably thought I was hitting on her!