The Internet has brought about a revolution in the way we communicate and has created a whole new landscape of slang terms and phrases. These slang terms, often used in texting, social media, online forums and gaming, have become ubiquitous in online communication. They’re a shorthand way to say how you feel and what you’re thinking, and they can make online conversations feel more casual and close.
So, in this post, we’re introducing four popular Chinese slang words to keep you on trend and bring a sense of belonging when bonding with native speakers.
Let’s start with an easy one, 粉絲/粉丝 (fěn sī). 粉 means “powder,” and 絲/丝 is “silk,” so the “powder silk” is a fan. This Chinese word is simply a phonetic translation of the English word “fan,” so the literal meaning of the word doesn’t apply.
Internet celebrity 網紅/网红
The Chinese word for “internet celebrity” is 網紅/网红 (wǎng hóng). The first character, 網/网, means “web/net” and is shorthand for the “Internet” 網絡/网络 (wǎng luò).
And the second character, 紅/红, is the color “red.” Besides meaning “red,” the character can describe someone or something being popular or famous. So, together, 網紅/网红, the Internet plus popular, refers to “Internet celebrity” or “social media influencer.”
Are you an Internet celebrity?
你是網紅嗎/你是网红吗？(nǐ shì wǎng hóng ma)
The Chinese word for “phubber” consists of three characters: 低 (to lower; dī) + 頭/头 (head; tóu) + 族 (clan; zú). The first two characters, 低頭/低头, translates to “to bow the head.” The third character, 族, in this context, refers to a group of people sharing the same behavior or interest, like a tribe. In English, some people also call phubbers “the bow-head tribe,” which is similar to the literal meaning of its Chinese counterpart 低頭族/低头族 (dī tóu zú).
Are you a phubber?
你是低頭族嗎/你是低头族吗？(nǐ shì dī tóu zú ma)
Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t a safe place for everyone. Some people have experienced encountering Internet trolls or haters. In Chinese, 酸民 (suān mín) can be used to refer to this group of people.
As an adjective, the first character, 酸, means “sour.” As a verb, it can refer to publicly airing one’s grievances. And the second character, 民, usually means “citizen,” but in this context, it is “netizen.” So, together, 酸民 (to air one’s grievances + netizen) refers to someone who posts disrespectful comments or shares hateful content on the web. We should say NO to this behavior and not engage in conversations with 酸民 at all.
Although using those slang words can make you sound more like a native speaker, it is essential to be mindful of the context in which you’re using them. In certain situations, such as in a professional setting, you should avoid using them as it might make you come across as less formal. So, try to think about the people you’re talking to and the tone you want to set when communicating in Chinese.