China Netspeak 2014: Decrypting Characters and Meanings

The Internet has changed Chinese (as in the language; but also the population) — for good or for bad, that’s up to you to decide, but the change is for real. As we close out 2014 this month, here’s a look at what the folks at China News Web at China News Service think were the most visible concoctions of “Chinese netspeak” for 2014…

  • 萌萌哒 (meng meng da)
    Literally, “cute”, but picture it spoken by a very cute young girl in the softest and sweetest of all voices… although it could also mean: Time for your meds!
  • 且行且珍惜 (qie xing qie zhen xi)
    Celebrities in the entertainment world in China are never known to be committed lovers… and when news broke out that Wen Zhang (文章) became unfaithful, Ma Yili (马伊俐) “invented” this phrase, which simply means: “Please treasure (what you have)”.
  • 你家里人知道吗? (ni jia li ren zhi dao ma?)
    In essence, “Does your family know about this?”, it rose to prominence in 2014, becoming a catchphrase most often uttered after someone is in disbelief. Used, for example, as: You’re wearing awful clothes today… does your family know about this?
  • 画面太美我不敢看 (hua mian tai mei wo bu gan kan)
    A line from Taiwanese Mandopop star Jolin Tsai’s song about Prague, it means, “this picture is too wonderful; I dare not even look at it”. It is used on the Internet in the most ironic of ways: this phrase often comes into use when a particularly scary pic is being described. Sarcasm all around…
  • 现在整个人都不好了 (xian zai zheng ge ren dou bu hao le)
    From the forums at Tianya: This literally means: How hard it is now to be cause havoc to someone! Most often used at someone (or something) you don’t like.
  • 也是醉了 (ye shi zui le)
    Literally meaning I’m drunk, too, this is used when you feel helpless.
  • 我只想安静地做个美男子 (wo zhi xiang an jing di zuo ge mei nan zi)
    In essence meaning All I want to be is a nice, handsome-looking man, it really means what it says — and is used to dismiss, apparently, claims to be “someone better”.
  • 买买买 (mai mai mai)
    Originally starting from a dialogue of a son that wants to buy everything (where the father blurts out the phrase, which basically means I’ll buy it!), it’s now used to most likely respond to a request you find annoying — and which you, in the end, might not consider denying, although it wasn’t your cup of tea in the first place…
  • 现在问题来了 (xian zai wen ti lai le)
    Literally meaning Now here’s the problem, the (proper) use of this is “disputed”: it is just as employed as a way to say yotta yotta yotta as it is about posing a real question.
  • 有钱,就是任性 (you qian, jiu shi ren xing)
    Best translated into English as People with the money sure can get irrational. This is the case as it became popular after an incident where someone shopping online banged into a scammer — who was apparently selling beauty products but ultimately was there to trick people. What started out as a transaction to buy RMB 1,760 of products to make you look nicer ultimately became a nightmare costing upwards of RMB 70,000 — and incredibly, the police weren’t alerted! This phrase, then, comes into use as others hear of this in disbelief — didn’t the poor soul know when to stop?

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