Cheesy chat-up lines, obsessive fans and "flying chickens and jumping dogs"

Slow Chinese Newsletter 每周漫闻


Happy Saturday!

Welcome to this week’s Slow Chinese newsletter 每周漫闻.

My words of the week….

  1. Social media scandal of the week: Sun Yining on Wang Sicong…

    土味情话 (Tǔ wèi qínghuà) - cheesy pick up lines

    And ways to put a cheesy chatter-upperer in his/her place:

    热脸贴冷屁股 (Rè liǎn qù tiē lěng pìgu) - hot face pressing against a cold ass / arse; ‘a slap in the face’

  2. Surreal fan incident of the week: Xiao Zhan in a Chengdu hot pot restaurant:

    私生饭 (Sī shēng fàn) - crazy fans, obsessive fans, “sasaeng fan”


    蹭热度 (cèng rè dù) - “rub hot spot”; ‘attention grabbing on social media’

  3. Video of the week: A university professor on how it’s going teaching his daughter after school:

    鸡飞狗跳 (Jī fēi gǒu tiào) - chickens flying and dogs jumping; absolute chaos

Word count for this week:

  • General words: 6

  • Internet / social media words: 8

  • Idioms: 10

  • Colloquialisms: 2

  • Political phrases: 0

  • Philosophical phrases: 0

  • Poems: 1

  • Total: 27

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1. How to put down Cheesy chat up lines: 土味情话 (Tǔ wèi qínghuà)

The public fall out between Wang Sicong (王思聪) and Sun Yining (孙一宁) is a great place to pick up some current internet words.

Background from Whatsonweibo:

Wang Sicong […] is the son of Chinese tycoon Wang Jianlin (王健林)…. [and is] one of China’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. But despite so many women being interested in Wang, the girl he has been chasing, internet celebrity and livestreamer Sun Yining (孙一宁), is just not into him at all.

After being harassed by Wang for some time, Sun exposed their text conversations on social media, revealing some extremely:

  • 土味情话 (Tǔ wèi qínghuà) - cheesy pick up lines

    关注点都在王思聪的土味情话中 - netizens where very focussed on Wang Sicong’s cheesy chat-up lines

She even invents a new untranslatable idiom to make the point:

  • 我命油我不油天 (Wǒ mìng yóu wǒ bù yóu tiān)

    It’s from this one:

    • 我命由我不由天 (wǒ mìng yóu wǒ bù yóu tiān) - “my destiny is my own, I am in control of my life”

    Swapping in 油 (Yóu) ‘oily’ instead of 由 (Yóu) ‘from / by’ sounds the same, means the same thing but also adds “F**k off you sleaze / perv” into the mix.

She goes on to call him a:

  • 舔狗 (Tiǎn gǒu) - “licking dog” (it’s also sometimes 添狗 - Tiān gǒu)

    她还吐槽王思聪是舔狗 - she also complained that he was a ‘licking dog’

    Definition: a ‘licking dog’ is a boy (or girl) who persists in pursuing someone even though it’s clear they are not interested; they lose all sense of self respect; in English perhaps it would be translated as ‘suck up’ .

    There are some colourful ways to say the same thing:

    • 跪舔 (Guì tiǎn) - ’kneeling and licking’ - kissing someone’s feet; excessive flattery, ass-kissing

      耐克CEO被指跪舔中国 - the Nike CEO was accused of ass-kissing China

    • 阿谀奉承 (Ēyú fèngchéng) - sleaziness, greasy

      孙一宁最讨厌的是阿谀奉承的人 - Sun Yining really hates sleazy guys

    • 热脸贴冷屁股 (Rè liǎn tiē lěng pìgu) - “hot face pressing against a cold ass / arse”; a slap in the face

      他对孙一宁如此之热心,但得到的却是热脸贴冷屁股 - he was so enthusiastic towards Sun Yining, but she basically gave him a slap in the face

Useful words

Three more options for names to call someone making a cheesy chat-up approach:

  • 疯批 (Fēng pī) - absolutely mad but good looking (short for 疯批美人)

    你这个人真是一疯批来的 - you are absolutely mad [even if you are quite good looking]

  • 杀猪 (Shā zhū) - “slaughtering a pig” - internet word meaning ‘entrapped’ or ‘done over’, which is what Wang (the ‘pig’) accused Sun (the ‘slaughterer’) of doing to him

    杀猪女是真的满嘴谎言 - this pig slaughterer is full of lies

  • 臭鱼烂虾 (Chòu yú làn xiā) - stinking fish and rotten shrimps [my new favourite idiom]

    你才是真的臭鱼烂虾 - you are [as bad as] a load of stinking fish and rotten shrimp


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2. How to talk about obsessive fans in Chinese: 私生饭 (Sī shēng fàn)

Obsessive fans of Xiao Zhan (肖战), a Chinese actor, descended on a hotpot restaurant in Chengdu last Sunday after staff revealed Xiao was having dinner at the venue.

The restaurant apologised after a public backlash:


From SCMP:

“We were too excited just now. We didn’t mean to interrupt the celebration feast”

Netizens were not impressed, using the colloquialism:

  • 揣着明白装糊涂 (Chuāizhe míngbái zhuāng hútú) - “hiding that you know through pretending to be confused”; playing dumb

    我搞不懂这事为什么餐厅揣着明白装糊涂骂粉丝 - I really don’t understand why the restaurant is pretending not to know while at the same time blaming the fans

    Two bonus idioms which readers of this newsletter really should know:

    • 听而不闻 (Tīng'érbùwén) - hear but not listen

    • 视而不见 (Shì'érbùjiàn) - look but not see

The restaurant was accused of:

  • 蹭热度 (cèng rè dù) - “rub hot spot”; this is translated as ‘riding the wave’, ‘clout-chasing’; my version is ‘attention grabbing on social media’

    可是很多网友根本不买账,这摆明了就是想蹭热度,明明做错了,可是道歉也不够诚恳 - many netizens don’t buy [their excuse], they are trying to grab attention through social media. This is clearly wrong, and their apology is not sincere either.

Useful words

Three Internet words to describe crazy fans. The first two are not in Pleco or Google Translate.

  • 代拍 (Dài pāi) - ‘representative photographer’; fan photographers; fans that pay to get into venues just to take pictures of celebrities

    这下麻烦了,店外很快就来了不少代拍 - at this point there was a problem, a bunch of professional fan photographers turned up outside the restaurant

  • 私生饭 (Sī shēng fàn) - crazy fans, obsessive fans; originally a Korean word “sasaeng fan”

    这些围堵明星的疯子,简直是私生饭 - these crazy people that surrounded the star are obsessive fans

    Other types of crazy fans:

    • 跟踪粉 (Gēnzōng fěn) - stalking fan

    • 狂热粉 (Kuángrè fěn) - infatuated fan

    And from15 May newsletter:

    • 饭圈 (Fàn quān) - fan groups, ‘chaotic fan groups’

  • 长枪短炮 (Chángqiāng duǎn pào) - ‘long gun, short explosive’ - colloquial way to say ‘camera’ of crazy fans that use them to take pics of their fav celebs.

    扛着长枪短炮去的,能是粉丝吗 - are those that turned up carrying cameras really true fans?


Three useful idioms used by netizens to have a go at the restaurant.

  • 令人作呕 (Lìng rén zuò'ǒu) - disgusting

    为什么要暴露客人的隐私呢?真的是令人作呕 - why did they have to reveal customer’s private details? It’s disgusting.

  • 阴阳怪气 (Yīnyángguàiqì) - ambiguous, deliberately ambiguous (slightly different to 模凌两可 Mó líng liǎng kě - which is more of a neutral word)

    商家阴阳怪气甩锅粉丝 - the restaurant ambiguously threw the fans under the bus

  • 吃相难看 (Chīxiàng nánkàn) - “bad manners while eating”; originally Shanghainese describing someone with bad table manners; also more widely to mean ‘bad form’ or ‘inappropriate’ [used here by creative netizens to criticise the restaurant because of the food link]

    店家吃相太难看,丝毫没有注重客人隐私意识 - this is really bad form of the restaurant; they did not treat their customer privacy seriously


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3. Video of the week: a uni professor on homeschooling his daughter - 鸡飞狗跳 (Jī fēi gǒu tiào)

Continuing with the ‘chicken babies’ (鸡娃) theme of recent newsletters, from an article in SCMP earlier this week:

A Chinese professor has become an overnight celebrity, not for academic achievement, but for sharing his feelings of helplessness about how to help his daughter perform academically.

Professor Zhang Xiaoqiang from Chongqing University in western China wrote a line in his introduction on the university’s official website which has since gone viral.

This is what he said:



“Though I have tutored more than 70 postgraduate students, I still have totally no idea how to educate my middle-school daughter.”

Comments in a video of another professor Ding Yanqing (丁延庆), discussing his experiences of trying to teach his daughter were almost exactly the same.

One netizen made the connection:

不同的教授相同的烦恼 - different professors, same troubles

It’s a reminder of just how competitive life is for kids (and their ‘chicken’ parents) in China.

Useful words

  • 吃瓜 (Chī guā) - “eat melon” - watch something unfold on social media (also ‘onlooker’ - from 8 May newsletter)

    张老师,你到自己的没?Professor Zhang, did you see yourself on the news?

  • 学渣 (Xué zhā) - study dregs; ‘mediocre student’ or ‘slacker’ depending on who’s saying it [the opposite to 学霸 - ‘straight A student’; see 1 May newsletter]

    但女儿却在“学渣”的道路上越跑越偏 - his daughter was on a path of a mediocre student

  • 早惠儿 (Zǎo huì er) - early developer, precocious

    我是早惠儿 - I was very bright as a young boy


I found four idioms to talk about this topic.

Two negative about how it feels to be a Chinese parent with kids in middle school:

  • 鸡飞狗跳 (Jī fēi gǒu tiào) - chickens flying and dogs jumping; ‘absolute chaos’

    辅导作业鸡飞狗跳 - helping her with her homework it was absolute chaos

  • 束手无策 (Shù shǒu wú cè) - hands bound, no strategy; ‘totally helpless’

    依然对初中生女儿的教育束手无策 - I am helpless when it comes to homeschooling my middle-school aged daughter

And two about taking a positive view:

  • 过人之处 (Guò rén zhī chù) - the thing that someone is better than everyone else at

    每一个学生都有他的比别人好的地方,甚至是过人之处 - every child has something that they are brilliant at

  • 有用之才 (Yǒuyòng zhī cái) - useful talent

    希望孩子能发现其他方面的优势,成为有用之才- I hope that my child can find she’s good at, and become a good talent


    • 天生我才必有用 (Tiānshēng wǒ cái bì yǒuyòng) - Everybody has something that they were born to be good at [From the Li Bai poem, 将进酒 - Qiāng jìn jiǔ]


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Recommended reading

Two things I’ve reads this week:

  • SupChina: Chicken parenting is China’s helicopter parenting on steroids

    Readers of this newsletter will know my interest in “chicken babies” (鸡娃 - Jī wá) - see 1 May newsletter and 5 June newsletter.

    This SupChina article gives the best explanation I’ve read so far, and makes the connection with ‘helicopter parents’ in English - brilliant!

    From the article:

    the concept of “helicopter parenting” became enough of a phenomenon that it was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2011…. defined as “a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child.”

    An oft-cited 2019 study by a Cornell researcher, Patrick Ishizuka, reports that a new American child-rearing philosophy is turning helicoptering to the next level. It’s a level that China knows well. Because over there, so-called “chicken parents” have been using a similar kind of intensive parenting, but on steroids — or in their case, on “chicken blood.”

    In recent years, the term “chicken baby” (鸡娃 jīwá) has become popular in China, with the increase of obsessive middle-class Chinese parents in megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

  • SCMP: Quirky China: woman falls for ‘amnesia water’ scam, actor Xiao Zhan mobbed at hotpot restaurant, and man carrying bags of rice finds fame

    More on Xiao Zhan obsessive fans and two other strange stories from China this week. Including a woman being sold amnesia water to forget about her ex. (失忆水 - Shīyì shuǐ in case you were wondering…)

    A woman in southeastern China has reportedly been swindled out of 6,500 yuan (US$1,000) buying “amnesia water” from an online shop.

    Surnamed Qian, the woman who lives in Suzhou in Jiangsu province, said she was interested in the product after she had a fight with her boyfriend and wanted to forget.

    After getting in touch with the seller through a texting app, Qian was told that the amnesia water was so magical that people would forget their troubles after drinking it, with part of their memories eliminated, she told police.

From the community:

I published a post on LinkedIn this week with a collection of ways to say ‘biassed’ or sitting on the fence from last week’s newsletter.

- 歪屁股 (Wāi pìgu): crooked arse / butt, sitting crooked;

- 墙头草 (Qiángtóu cǎo): ‘grass on top of the wall’; someone who is easily swayed, opportunist

- 骑墙派 (Qíqiáng pài): ‘a wall rider’; sitting on the fence - used critically

I got two more brilliant ways to say the same thing from readers:

  • 西瓜偎大边 (xī guā wēi dà biān) - ‘eating the larger half of the water melon’ [Taiwan]

  • 胳膊肘往外拐 (Gēbó zhǒu wǎngwài guǎi) - ‘turning your elbows out’; somebody helps another person, not the one who is closer to himself that does harm to the benefit of the closer one.

That’s it for this week. 

Thanks for reading. 

I’ll see you in your inbox around the same time next Saturday.

Finally, please do help share this newsletter with anyone who you think needs to brush up on their spoken, written, slang, idiomatic, poetic or classical Chinese language skills:

  • With colleagues and friends,

  • students you know from the past or present,

  • in Chinese language learning groups (Wechat, FB),

  • and on social media channels 

And if you spot any mistakes, or discover any new words - please do share by replying to this email.

Thank you!

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