Crashing stocks, flatulent idioms and irrational online shoppers

Slow Chinese 每周漫闻

Hi there,

Happy Saturday and welcome to this week’s newsletter.

Here’s some words, colloquialisms and idioms to nourish your weekend language learning:

  1. Word of the week: A Hong Kong brokerage tries to deceive investors

    抄底 (Chāodǐ) - bottom fishing, bargain hunting - buying when the market is at its lowest

    And:

    风口浪尖 (fēngkǒu-làngjiān) - where the wind is strongest and the waves are highest; “in the eye of the storm”

  2. Idiom of the week - Education company stock market chaos:

    屁滚尿流 (Pìgǔn niàoliú) - “rollings fart and flowing pee” - sh*t storm; market chaos

    And:

    撅腚 (Juē dìng) - sticking your arse in the air (the action of working in the fields); hard graft, working tirelessly

  3. Colloquialism of the week: Chinese brand Erke fortunes change thanks to irrational online shoppers

    From:

    屋漏偏逢连夜雨 (Wū lòu piān féng liányè yǔ) - “a leaking roof is met with continuous rain” - when it rains it pours

    To:

    国货之光 (Guóhuò zhī guāng) - the pride of Chinese brands


This week’s word count:

  • General business words: 8

  • Internet / social media words: 5

  • Idioms: 6

  • Colloquialisms: 5

  • Dialect words: 2

  • Political phrases: 0

  • Total: 26


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: PLECO FLASHCARDS AVAILABLE

Thanks to a brilliant idea of one long-time reader, ‘Words of the Week’ are now available to download as Pleco flash cards!

Follow these steps:

  • First, you need the Pleco app downloaded on your phone.

  • Second, click on this link to take you to a download page, and then click on ‘31 July 2021 Words of the Week Download’ link

  • Third, Pleco should automatically open, click ‘OK’ when prompted, and you should get a ‘Import Succeeded’ message.

You should then have your very own Slow Chinese bookmark filed by week which you can add to from now on.

This major technological breakthrough (重大科技突破) follows the patient hand-holding of Pleco founder, Michael Love, who I’m sure had better things to do than help me faff around with basic coding.

Please try the link and let me know if it works (or not….)!

(For some reason i can’t embed the download link directly into Substack - hopefully that will be sorted next week)



1. Word of the week: education stocks crash - 抄底 (Chāodǐ) - bottom fishing, bargain hunting

There’s nothing like stock market chaos to pick up some new words in Chinese.

The education sector delivered this week with the announcement of the policy:

关于进一步减轻义务教育阶段学生作业负担和校外培训负担的意见

Opinions on Further Reducing the Burden of Compulsory Education Students' Homework and Off-campus Training

To keep things simple, it’s also called:

  • 双减政策 (Shuāng jiǎn zhèngcè) - ‘Double Reduces’ Policy

With the stock market sell-off came panic, rumours and opportunists. One opportunistic firm, brokerage Guosen Securities (国信香港), tried to deceive investors into buying back education shares during the crash.


Useful words

  • 抄底 (Chāodǐ) - bottom fishing, bargain hunting

    这些券商竟组团“忽悠”投资者抄底 - brokers were trying to trick investors into buying ‘bargain’ shares when they had apparently hit rock bottom

  • 忽悠 (Hūyou) - trick, deceive, pull a fast one (readers of this newsletter should all know this word, but including it just to remind you)

    些券商竟组团“忽悠”投资者 - some brokers grouped together to deceive investors

  • 闪崩 (Shǎn bēng) - ‘flash crash’, massive fall

    股价率先闪崩 - share prices crashed first

  • 宠儿 (Chǒng'ér) - darling

    去年此时,这些教育股们还是资本的宠儿 - this time last year these education stocks were the darlings of investors

  • 弃子 (Qì zi) - abandoned child (opposite of darling)

    今年就变成了资本的弃子 - this year the stocks have become the abandoned child of investors


Idioms

Two idioms to sum up market sentiment:

  • 风口浪尖 (fēngkǒu-làngjiān) - where the wind is strongest and the waves are highest; in the thick of it; in the eye of the storm

    国信香港在教育板块“风口浪尖”时劝客户抄底,无疑会损伤用户对其投顾服务的信任 - Guosen Securities tried to persuade investors to buy shares as they themselves were in the eye of the storm. This has undoubtedly damaged customer trust in its investment services

    • Note: the Collins definition of “in the eye of the storm” can be used here - ‘the main subject of a public disagreement’.

  • 闻风丧胆 (Wénfēng sàngdǎn) - frightened, trembling with fear

    持股者“闻风丧胆”式的大甩卖 - shareholders made massive sell-offs of shares in absolute panic


Links

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2. Idiom of the week: stock market chaos - “rolling farts…” 屁滚尿流 (Pìgǔn niàoliú)

An article (in Chinese) on the WeChat account 起点财经 analysing the Double Reduction policy is a great read if you have time.

It links the education policy with two other announcements made on the same day, from the Ministry of Housing (住建部) and SAMR (市场监管总局).

The writer concludes all are part of the same pattern:

  • 新的时代已经来临,我们开始“从右转左"

    The new era is here, we are starting to move from the right [capitalism], to the left [socialist]

  • 防止资本无序扩张、教育平权、限制996加班

    Putting a stop to the uncontrolled expansion of capital, education inequality and 996

  • 这股浪潮,很多人称之为“反内卷”。但准确来说,应该叫“共同富裕”

    Many people describe this wave as ‘anti-involution’; it’s more accurately described as delivering on the promise of ‘common prosperity’ [see 5 June newsletter for more on involution - intense social competition]


An idiom, a colloquialism and a dialect word

I found a brilliant tongue-twisting idiom to describe sentiment in the markets after the announcements:

  • 屁滚尿流 (Pìgǔn niàoliú) - “rollings fart and flowing pee” - sh*t storm; market chaos

    现在如屁滚尿流般在股市里嗷嗷砸盘 - in the stock market sh*t storm there was absolute chaos as it crashed

And a Shangdong dialect word for working hard:

  • 撅腚 (Juē dìng) - sticking your arse in the air (the action of working in the fields); hard graft (撅 Juē means to stick up in the air; 腚dìng means arse in northern Chinese dialect)

    我们必须一边撅腚996,一边把同样撅腚996的竞争者们干死 - we must on one hand continue to graft tirelessly in 996, while at the same time out-compete others working as hard

A colloquial phrase meaning the same thing:

  • 撅着屁股 (Juēzhe pìgu) - sticking your arse in the air like working in the fields; meaning clenching buttocks or bracing oneself for hard work

    我们必须拿着铁锹、撅着屁股、掘地三尺、狠干一番 - we must grab a shovel, brace ourselves [focussing on what is in front of us], dig deep and put in some hard graft


Useful words

There are lots of useful words about stock market crash to add to your vocab:

  • 卒 (Zú) - kill, end

    以Vipkid为代表的各类国外课程,卒 - VIPKid as an example, all types of overseas curriculums are dead

  • 杀招 (Shā zhāo) - killer move

    这份屠杀教培行业的文件,有8个杀招,招招毙命 - this document that has massacred the education and training industry has eight killer moves, each is a deadly blow

  • 围剿 (Wéijiǎo) - encircle and suppress

    向资本开炮了,对金融围剿了- government has opened fire on capital, and has finance surrounded


Three character phrases

And three useful three-character phrases:

  • 请喝茶 (Qǐng hē chá) - taken for tea; given a stern talking to by policy makers (see 1 May newsletter)

    有的请去喝茶被整改 - some are taken for tea and told to rectify [their problems]

  • 大出血 (Dàchūxiě) - lose a lot of blood; lose a huge amount of money

    有的立案调查大出血 - some companies have investigations brought agaist them, losing huge amounts of money

  • 掀桌子 (Xiān zhuōzi) - lift the table - infuriate, get really angry

    当矛盾和戾气累积到一定程度,就是普通人的掀桌子 - when the contradictions and resentment reach a certain level, normal people will totally lose it


Links

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3. Colloquialism of the week: 屋漏偏逢连夜雨 (Wū lòu piān féng liányè yǔ) - “when it rains it pours”

Struggling Chinese sportswear brand Erke (鸿星尔克 - Hóngxīng'ěrkè) enjoyed a surprise online shopping frenzy this week.

The company’s overnight revival came after its low-key announcement on Weibo of a RMB 50 million donation of supplies to victims affected by the Henan floods.

Within a few hours Netizens had picked the story up:

娘嘞感觉你都要倒闭了还捐这么多 - OMG - you’re about to go bankrupt and you donate so much?!

Good internet slang:

  • 娘嘞 (Niáng lei) - ‘mother’ is a little bit like TMD 他妈的 or 我Kao; from the internet phrase 娘了个腿的吧 (Niángle gè tuǐ de ba)

Why did Erke get so much attention?

The mentality of the Chinese online consumer is described in this analysis:

TA们会迅速形成抵抗的共同体;TA们也会为一时的心酸买单,但要长期留住TA们,需要拿出真正的好产品

[Consumers] will quickly come together as a force to reject [brands]; at the same time they will also come together in support of brands that they momentarily feel sorry for. But in order to keep your customers the only way to do it is to deliver real high quality products.


Useful phrases and colloquialisms

Three essential phrases to discuss the story:

  • 理性消费 (Lǐxìng xiāofèi) - rational consumption

    吴荣照在直播间呼吁大家理性消费 - Wu Rongzhao [Erke CEO] called on shoppers to buy rationally

  • 野性消费 (Yěxìng xiāofèi) - wild consumption; irrational buying; impulsive purchasing

    老板的劝告也阻挡不了善意网友野性消费的热情 - the advice from the boss could not stop the irrational purchasing passion of netizens

    This is an entertaining response explaining why:

    你都不理性捐款,还让我们理性消费?You can’t donate rationally, so how can you expect us to buy rationally?

  • 国货之光 (Guóhuò zhī guāng) - the pride of China’s domestic brands (see 29 May newsletter for more on 国货 - ‘domestic brands’)

    就在被称为“国货之光”之际,网上出现了质疑鸿星尔克捐款的声音 - just as Erke was being hailed as the best of Chinese brands, rumours began to spreads on the internet bring its donation into doubt

And three colloquial phrases to go deeper:

  • 人红是非多 (Rén hóng shìfēi duō) - “gossip follows the famous”

    人红是非多。伴随鸿星尔克式的销售上微博热搜的同时,还有质疑鸿星尔克只捐出20万瓶冰露矿泉水 - Gossip follows the famous. While Erke sales hit the top rankings on Weibo there were also concerns that it had only donating 200,000 bottles of mineral water

  • 屋漏偏逢连夜雨 (Wū lòu piān féng liányè yǔ) - “a leaking roof is met with continuous rain” - when it rains it pours

    屋漏偏逢连夜雨,2015年鸿星尔克又经历一场大火,烧光了一半的生产设备 - when it rains, it pours; in 2015 Erke also went through a major fire incident, in which half of its manufacturing equipment

  • 好人有好报 (Hǎorén yǒu hǎo bào) - “one good turn deserves another”

    在一个向往“好人有好报”的国家,人们以善意回报善意 in a country that idealises ‘one good turn deserves another’, people return actions of kindness with yet more kindness


Useful words

Good words to talk about your favourite, or least favourite, internet celebs and brands:

  • 破防 (Pò fáng) - break the defences; moved to tears (internet slang - usually as 破防状态 - in a state of being brought to tears)

    网友们瞬间集体破防 - netizens were instantly ovberwhelmed

  • 蒙圈 (Méng quān) - ‘ignorant circle’ - confused, completely lost

    意外得到网友的力挺,自己也有点“蒙圈 - taken aback by the surprising support received from netizens

  • 反噬 (Fǎnshì) - backlash

    如果翻车,就会遭受更加巨大的反噬 - even there is a [brand] ‘car crash’ there will be an even greater backlash

  • 造梗 (Zào gěng) - create a story or something for people to talk about

    直播间还承担了两个重要的功能:对话、造梗 - in the live broadcasting room there are two important functions: engaging in conversation and creating a story

    • 梗 (gěng) - a meme, the point, or the funny part of a joke

      这个事情引发了刷屏,也就成为了梗 - this has caused it go go viral and become the thing that everyone’s talking about


Idioms

Two idioms to describe the feelings of irrational Chinese shoppers:

  • 拔腿就跑 (Bátuǐ jiù pǎo) - make a run for it; up and run

    男子在鸿星尔克买500付1000拔腿就跑 - some male shoppers went for it paying RMB 1000 for Erke shoes priced at RMB 500

  • 可知可感 (Kězhī kě gǎn) - to know and to feel; connect at a deeper level

    把鸿星尔克的人设变得更加可知可感 - [customers] became connected with Erke’s people at a deeper level


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And finally….

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up, read, shared, commented and patiently fed back on this newsletter since I started in February.

Today is its six-month anniversary, and I just hit 1,000 subscribers this week!

This is far beyond what I expected. So, I’ve been reflecting on the legendary words of Jack Ma:

梦想还是要有的,万一实现了呢?

[We all] need to have a dream. But what if that dream is realised?

What next…?

The newsletter is a work in progress so please do keep your feedback and comments coming as it develops.

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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