Chinese is the most spoken language in the world and learning it can help you understand the Chinese culture better. Many apps aim to help people learn foreign languages, but the Chineasy app was selected by Apple as “App of the day” and received many rewards afterward. So, it is worth giving it a try when you start learning Chinese!
Chinese has more than one or two dialects, and to make things even more difficult, the Chinese internet slang is a combination of all these. Almost everyone uses them on the internet to send a specific message and knowing all these language subtleties can help you understand a culture better.
Some of these internet slang phrases are more common than others and learning them can turn out to be a huge benefit. Here are the 5 Chinese internet slang phrases you should know in the era of the internet.
666 – 牛牛牛 (pinyin: Niúniú niú) or 520 – 我爱你 (pinyin: wǔ’èrlíng) or other numbers
Chinese people use a lot of number combinations to send different ideas, and each of them has a different meaning. Contrary to western culture, myths, and traditions, 666 is not the number of the devil. It doesn’t symbolize something negative, but something totally positive. When Chinese people use 666, they mean awesome, excellent, great, etc.
The same goes for 520, which is a date (the 20th of May). You probably already know that China uses a different calendar, has a different culture that celebrates and encourages other values, compared with western cultures. This is why there is a date different from the well-known 14th of February which symbolizes the same thing. Chinese Valentine’s Day is on the 20th of May, so it is a popular number used on the internet.
If you spend enough time on the internet, you will notice that the Chinese use a lot more number combinations. Among the most popular are 995 救救我 (pinyin: jiù jiù wǒ) that means “Help me” and 88 that means “bye-bye”.
Awkward XX – 尬XX (pinyin: gà XX)
This is in fact a twist of existing Chinese expressions. Awkward is 尴尬 (pinyin: gāngà), so 尬 (pinyin: gà) is the second half of the word that means to “embarrass”. However, it would not be translated as you expect it to be. Chinese web users have figured out that in life you might experience awkward moments. So, they have developed an entire dictionary starting from 尬 (pinyin: gà) that describes awkward or embarrassing behavior.
One of the examples is 尬聊 (pinyin: gàliáo), where 聊 (pinyin: liáo) stands for talking. It is used by Chinese internauts to describe awkward small talk. But there is also 尬舞 (pinyin: gàwǔ) that means awkward dancing, where 舞 (pinyin: wǔ) stands for dancing or 尬唱 (pinyin: gàchàng) that means awkward singing, where 唱 (pinyin: chàng) stands for singing.
Thinking Outside the Box – 外箱思考 (pinyin: Wài xiāng sīkǎo)
Thinking outside the box is something that is encouraged not only in Chinese culture but in every other culture too. Thinking outside the box means letting your creativity and imagination run wild and this can provide good solutions to problems.
外 (pinyin: wài) stands for outside, 箱 (pinyin: xiāng) stands for box, 思 (pinyin: sī) for thinking, and 考 (pinyin: sīkǎo) for test. Taken together, they give the internet slang phrase “thinking outside the box”.
Poop-Scoop – 铲屎官 (pinyin: Chǎn shǐ guān)
Pet ownership has gained momentum in China in the last years and more and more people adopt pets. This internet slang phrase is quite funny because it literally means “the government official who scoops poop”. It is used to describe the close relationship between people and their pets and because pet ownership is vogue in China, pet owners are using this self-deprecating term to describe their devotion to pets.
Chinese people are very attached to their pets and adopt healthy habits for their cats. They also use internet slang phrases that describe people that are addicted to taking care of their pets.
Straight-man Cancer – 直男癌 (pinyin: Zhí nán ái)
No one says that there are countries without bad people. The Chinese internet slang has a phrase for men that are misogynistic, hostile to women, and stubborn conservative and this is straight-man cancer. They compared these negative and hostile views on the world with cancer disease, which is one of the worst and deadliest diseases.
Every culture and society have different values, and most of them are subtlety present in the internet slang of these days. Western cultures are very different from Eastern ones, and Europe or the USA is very different from Asia.
Learning popular and common Chinese internet slangs can help you learn about the values of its society. You can learn about their behaviors, such as the strong relationship between owners and their pets. Or, you can get a glimpse of new traditions, such as the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day.
Even though China has more than two dialects, these slang phrases are commonly used by all people who speak Chinese. Knowing them can help you understand the others’ messages more accurately and communicate more effectively.