The China Internet Guide: Slang Edition


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Internet slang evolves rapidly. Popular words and phrases can become “outdated” in a matter of weeks. Here is our round-up of popular Internet slang that endured throughout 2018.

1. 佛系 fó xì

When “佛” (Buddha) and “系” (series) come together, the term has nothing to do with religion. In fact, this new Internet slang refers to the indifferent attitude of the post-90s generation. They would rather keep it casual and carefree. “佛了佛了” has become their mantra and a way to express their indifference.

Collectively, the Internet refers to them as “佛系青年” or Buddha-like young people.

How it’s used?

In conversation, you might hear something like:

  • Tingting: She doesn’t seem quite sad after breaking up huh?
  • Xiaobai: Nah, she wouldn’t. Apparently she’s a 佛系青年!”

 

2. 凉凉 liáng liáng

The Breakdown:

“凉” originally means cold or chilly. Would you be happy on a chilly, windy day? Probably not.

Its Internet slang draws from this negative connotation. Online, “凉凉” refers to “falling on hard time,” “hapless,” or “bad luck.”

The slang term stems from a popular Chinese drama, “三生三世十里桃花.” During the theme song, the singer says: “一首凉凉送给自己” (I would like to send myself this song).

In the song, she uses the term “凉凉” to ridicule and mock herself. The Internet took the term and ran with it.

3. 皮这一下很开心 pí zhè yī xià hěn kāi xīn

In the Sichuan dialect, “皮” means “being a smart alec.”

“皮” or “皮这一下很开心” is typically used between good friends in a teasing way.  

Jokingly, you can say to your friend, “皮这一下你很开心?” meaning “Aren’t you proud to be a smart alec?”

Be mindful though, “皮”  is not a phrase you should use often and with just anyone.

 

4. 锦鲤 jǐn lǐ

“锦鲤” (Koi fish) was an Internet sensation in 2018. Koi is associated with fortune and good luck in Chinese culture. On Weibo and WeChat moments, it’s common to see people post images of the fish; Chinese also love to buy Koi for their ponds and lakes.

Why do Chinese people associate Koi with fortune? Simply put,  “锦” sounds close to the Chinese word for “prosperity, glamor and beauty.”

In 2018, Koi took on another meaning. YANG Chaoyue, a competitor on the popular game show, “Produce 101,” was dubbed “锦鲤” after her surprisingly good luck on the show. Despite her lackluster performance, she won when more adept competitors failed. Since then, Yang’s image is synonymous with “锦鲤” and succeeding without putting in the effort.

People began mocking, “ 转发这个杨超越,期末不复习也能拿第一” (repost this image of Yang, you will nail your final even though you don’t review).

Will 锦鲤 continue into 2019?  We’ll see if its lucky enough.

5. 真香 zhēn xiāng

The direct translation of “真香” is “smells good or delicious.”

Its Internet slang version comes from a hot reality show. On the show, the contestant claimed that he wouldn’t eat anything there even though the cost is death. Later, as you can imagine, he ate his meals rather happily.

“真香” became a way to sneer at someone after they did a complete 180 on a previous statement. “立flag” is another similar saying.


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Cindy Wu

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