Country Focus: China – The write stuff

Welcome back everyone after the Chinese New Year break. We have some very thought-provoking interviews/scene reports from Korea and Japan coming up next week. In the meantime we would like to thank everyone for the interest shown in our recent post on the meaning of numbers in China. This week we wanted to give you some additional insights on language and word-plays in China. Enjoy…

Net lingo, Internet slang or Leet has been popular among techies and geeks from the early days of the Web onwards and is today widely used by all kinds of netcitizens on message boards, in chat rooms and instant messengers or for SMS communication. Nevertheless, commonly used English or e.g. German short hand, abbreviations and word-plays can be very tricky to interpret, if not completely unreadable for those unfamiliar with them. If you combine this kind of slang with Chinese – a language that theoretically uses 47,000 different characters (full literacy for day to day usage requires at least knowledge of between 3,000 to 4,000 characters), each with a different meaning but sometimes identical pronunciation – and add the Chinese obsession with numbers then things are taken to a new level of complexity and fun. No wonder it is commonly referred to as "huo xing wen" or Mars language. Judge for yourself with some examples below:


  • 555 - pronounced “wuwuwu” is used to represent the sound of sobbing and sadness :°-(
  • 3Q – “san q”, thank you
  • (pp)mm - “meimei”, for a young (and pretty) girl
  • ssgg – “shuai shuai ge ge", for a handsome boy (literally “handsome older brother”) or
  • dd – “didi”, for young boys (“younger brother”), careful when putting a “small” in front as in “xiao didi” …
  • ddd – “duiduidui”, “rightrightright” to indicate agreement
  • 88 – “byebye”. Not advisably to be used in German chat rooms unless deliberately intended …
  • 520 -  “wo ai ni”, “I love you”
  • 530/360 – “wu xiang ni”/”xiang nian ni” for “I miss you”
  • 775885 – transliteration for “qing qing wo bao bao wo” meaning "kiss me, hug me”. Be warned, however, that using this one on ppmm’s or ssgg’s could result you being told to 748 “qu si ba” as in "go to hell” since it might really 7456 that person as in “qi si wo le" for “this really annoys me" …

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