Chinese Slang: Speak Like A Native
Most spoken Chinese slang comes from different dialects. Depending on where you’re learning Chinese, your accent will most probably change to use the local slang if you’re speaking and hanging out with the locals. Whether in Beijing, Shanghai or Taiwan – all dialects are very different. However, one common thing Chinese slang has in common throughout the great middle kingdom is the use of Chinese slang on the internet.
If you’re using Chinese social media websites (which by the way is a great way to immerse yourself into Chinese culture, get Chinese friends and learn Chinese) such as Weibo, Douyin or QQ, then you may be a bit confused initially by the amount of colloquialisms used. The amount of numbers that float around with apparently no meaning in comments is clear from the beginning. Also, you will see a large amount of random capital letters amongst the Chinese Characters that also appear to have no meaning.
Actually, all of these colloquial expressions of numbers and letters all have a very specific meaning and all have a (somewhat) logical origin.
Chinese Slang: Using Numbers
Many Chinese numbers sound very similar to how another character may sound, therefore mimicking the meaning. Chinese people can be very creative in this way when they create new colloquial expressions, especially in the form of internet slang!
Probably the most common phrase found in the internet slang world in China, the colloquialism 666 (pinyin: liuliuliu) comes from 牛牛牛 (pinyin: niuniuniu) meaning awesome, excellent, great etc. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the English meaning of this slang term which is often related to the Devil.
When using colloquial Chinese slang, you will also hear younger people using street slang saying this.
This can also be represented by holding your hand up to represent the number 6 in Chinese counting number language and waving it around.
Probably the second most common phrase you will see on internet slang or hear as street slang, especially around the date 5/20. (20th May). This date is Chinese internet Valentine’s Day. This is due to the fact that 520 (pinyin: wǔ’èrlíng) represents 我爱你 which sounds like the pinyin – (pinyin: wǒ ài nǐ).
995 (pinyin: jiǔ jiǔ wǔ) stands for 救救我 (pinyin: jiù jiù wǒ) meaning ‘Help me!’
Not sure why you would need to use this one on internet slang or street slang, but it a common colloquial expression used in Chinese slang – perhaps sometimes used in an amusing or ironic way.
This in pinyin is qīsìbā. This represents 去死吧 (pinyin: qùsǐba). Which, pretty much, is “Go to hell“, “Get lost”, or, more literally “Go die!”.
“Bye bye” in Chinese also means the same as in English, goodbye. 88 (pinyin: bābā) sounds like the same Chinese equivalent for ‘Bye Bye’. So, when ending that conversation impress your mates with saying ’88’.
233 represents the sound of laughter. The pinyin is èr sān sān which is similar to the 哈哈哈 (used as ‘lol’) which sounds like ‘hā hā hā.
484, or ‘sibasi’ is similar to the 是不是 (shibushi) meaning yes or no.
Chinese Slang: Using Letters
There are much more Chinese slang uses and colloquial terms using numbers in Chinese. One colloquial expression you may see a lot, however, is the following:
他妈的 – (Pinyin: tā mā dē). This expression should not be thrown around and is probably best used amongst friends only… It’s basically used as a way to express extreme annoyance, similar to saying ‘F*ck you’ in English.
If you enjoyed this post we’ve got plenty more Chinese Slang to teach you! Our pro Chinese learner, Jan, gives us a run down of his favourite five Chinese Slang phrases he’s picked up over his years in China. It’s well worth a read!
Ready for more >>> Chinese Slang with Jan
Want more from LTL?
If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!