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30+ Mandarin Chinese Slang Expressions To Make You Rule Chinese Internet

· Mandarin Chinese,Chinese Language

It’s been 7 years since I started learning Chinese and sometimes I still get messages from my Chinese friends that simply frustrate me. For instance, I would ask one of my friends how they are doing and they would start their response with 555. Other times they would tell me a story and add dǎ jiàngyóu 打酱油. Or they would start asking me questions with shén​mǎ 神马. And I would have to reply over and over again shénme yìsi 什么意思? shénme yìsi 什么意思? (What does it mean?).

When chatting with your Chinese friends have you ever made similar experiences? Or encountered other expressions like gěilì 给力, diǎosī 屌丝 or fú​yún 浮云? As usual, you tried to look the new word up in the dictionary. But, nothing?! This is because these words belong to the very useful, always funny but sometimes outright crazy vocabulary of Chinese Internet Slang.

Here you will learn the 30+ most useful internet expressions that you can use to chat with your Chinese pals and colleagues. All these expressions were created online by young netizens, in forums, microblogs and other social media platforms. They are referred to as Chinese internet language (wǎngluò yǔyán 网络语言). Sometimes called “Martian language” (huǒxīng wén 火星文), internet language is representative of the digital lifestyle (and apparently endless creativity) of the Chinese post-90s (the generation born between 1990 and 1999).

1. Numbers associated with Chinese words

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case 886, which means goodbye.

As you can see above, most words are represented by numbers which have a similar pronunciation to the actual word. Líng (0), which is used for nǐ 你 (you), is one of the few exceptions. The reason behind this choice is unclear, but it might be because there is no Chinese number with a similar sound to nǐ 你. As nǐ 你 is a word which is used very often in online chats, the Chinese netizens decided to pick líng (0).

2. Abbreviations of Chinese words (acronyms)

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case GG, which means older brother in Chinese.

So now, you got a new way of saying “Sister, I love you forever”. It’s MM, 51131420.

3. Existing Chinese expressions with a changed meaning

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case 打酱油, which means none of my business in Chinese.

While the first two categories are still pretty easy to follow, netizens simply adopted existing Chinese expressions and gave them new “internet” meanings:

Learn more useful internet expressions with Zizzle now! Download the App for iPhone and Android!

4. Chinese Words that are pronounced the same as other words but differ in tone and writing

Another fun method employed online is to replace the actual word you want to write with another word (the internet expression) that has the same pronunciation, but uses different characters. Ever received a text containing the expression wāi​guǒ​rén 歪果仁? That’s slang for wài​guó​rén 外国人 (foreigner) or simply Laowai.

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case 和谐, which means older harmonious in Chinese.

5. Old, uncommon Chinese characters that have been revived

The definition of "JIONG"

6. Invented Chinese expressions

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case 给力, which means cool in Chinese.

7. Chinese expressions emerging from popular culture and current events

Image showing Mandarin Chinese Internet Language, in this case hold住, which means to keep cool in Chinese.

As you can see from these examples, the Chinese language is extremely complex, rich and entertaining and it offers endless possibilities of new creations. Why don’t you start learning it with Zizzle? Next time you will be able to chat internet slang with your friends!

Alexandra from Zizzle

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