Lessons from Megatron on how to deal with a rude tourist in Chinese, and discussing China's "script killing" craze

Slow Chinese Learning 每周漫闻

Here’s the latest edition of my Slow Chinese Learning 每周漫闻 newsletter, a collection of Chinese words, phrases, idioms and slang to help you maintain and improve your Chinese language skills, and keep on top of the latest language trends in China.

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What’s in it? Each week I highlight two ‘Conversations worth Consuming’ with authentic and actionable language for you to try out to make your spoken Chinese more authentic. I also gather together up to 12 ‘Words of the Week’ to add to your vocab - idioms, on-trend words and colloquialisms to impress your Chinese colleagues and friends with how amazing your Chinese is.


CONVERSATIONS WORTH CONSUMING

1. Lessons from Megatron on how to deal with a rude tourist

Do you know Megatron’s name in Chinese?

It’s 威震天 - Wēi Zhèntiān.

He was a hit during Golden Week at the Universal Studios Theme Park in Beijing (北京影城 - Běijīng Yǐngchéng).

Watch this 12-min Youtube video for abrasive but entertaining dialogue between him and visitors brave enough to pose for a photo with him.

One tourist took things too far and give him the middle finger (Wechat - Chinese) which went viral on social media.

Megatron response:

“你这个手势太不礼貌了,你的爸爸妈妈没教过你吗?

That’s such a rude gesture! Did your parent’s not teach you [right from wrong]?

Useful words

Here are four words to drop into conversations about it with your Chinese friends and colleagues:

  • 竖中指 (shù zhōngzhǐ) - give someone the middle finger

    向其比了一个竖中指的手势 - gave him the middle finger

  • 不顺眼 (bù shùnyǎn) - dislike, despise

    看谁不顺眼就让谁消失 - whoever he doesn’t like the look of will be disappeared

  • 发飙 (fābiāo) - totally lose your temper, fly off the handle

    威震天之所以发飙,是因为一位年轻男游客太不礼貌了 - Megatron was furious because the male tourist was so rude to him.

  • 肮脏 (āng zāng) - dirty, filthy

    肮脏的人类,下去,我不想跟他照相 - [you] filthy human, leave. I don’t want to have a picture with him.

And two words about how adorable Megatron is under all that metal:

  • 话痨 (huà láo) - talkaholic; won’t shut up

    这才是“话痨”威震天真实的一面 - this is the true face of the very talkative Megatron

  • 秀逗心 (xiù dòuxīn) - stupid but cute (internet word originally from Japanese)

    原以为只是机器壳,没想到藏着一颗秀逗心 - previously I thought he was just a machine, I didn’t realise he was so adorable underneath

Fancy learning more authentic words to hurl back at someone who’s been really rude to you? Try this for different ways to say “you’re talking sh*t.”

2. How to talk about China’s ”script killing” craze

Script killing 剧本杀 (jùběn shā) is a role playing game that’s become popular in China. A basic version can be played around a table; a more elaborate version involves role-playing and escape rooms, even entire hotels.

It’s one way young people use to escape the pressures of daily ‘nèi juǎn’ life in China.

An article in Sina describes how an entire industry has formed around the new trend - with some excellent words to talk about it.

Useful words

  • 小白 (Xiǎo bái) - a newby, someone who’s never played before (similar to 菜鸟 càiniǎo - a rookie)

    从当初对“剧本杀”闻所未闻的“小白”成了“组局达人” - from being a newbie at script killing who’s never heard of it, to becoming an expert convener of the game

    • Related: 达人 (dá rén) - talented; internet word for ‘expert’ - opposite of xiǎo bái

  • 拼车 (pīnchē) - ‘car sharing’, here it means join together with another group to make up the numbers

    人数不够时和陌生人“拼车” - if you don’t have enough people you can make up numbers by joining with another group

  • 博眼球 (Bó yǎnqiú) - attracting eyeballs

    少数剧本创作者以“黄色暴力”“恐怖慎入”作为噱头博人眼球 - a small number of script killing writers use sexual violence and terror as gimmicks to attract eyeballs

Idioms

Use these idioms to describe rapid and chaotic growth of a new industry or craze:

  • 开疆扩土 (Kāi jiāng kuò tǔ) - expanding into new territory

    早期开疆扩土的野蛮生长 - wild growth in its early stages of development

    • 野蛮生长 (yěmán shēngzhǎng) - savage or wild growth; something regulators are trying to fix in various sectors at the moment

  • 雨后春笋 (yǔhòu chūnsǔn) - like bamboo shoots after rain; rapid early growth of an emerging company or trend

    从雨后春笋般冒出的实体店到与文旅、民宿业融合 - from something that seems to have just appeared to having experiential hotels and themed home-stays

    • Related - 富游 (fù yóu) - ‘wealthy holiday’; luxury holiday where travellers stay in fancy hotels as part of the experience (you will have seen fù yóu pics in your Wechat feed during Golden Week) 

  • 热火朝天 (rèhuǒ cháotiān) - like a flaming rocket flying into the sky; rapid growth

    发展的热火朝天 - explosive development


WORDS OF THE WEEK

This week’s words of the week are from an article on yet another unwelcome trend on social media (Wechat- in Chinese) called “fake volunteer teachers.”

A trending word you should know

In last week’s newsletter we learned about 佛媛 (fó yuán) - ‘fake buddhist socialites’.

The word 名媛 (míng yuán) means ‘notable female celebrity.’

媛 yuán has taken on a negative meaning - a fake, an exhibitionist, shallow.

According to Sixth Tone:

Yuán has been distorted to fit a sexist narrative, allowing it to be used to satirize, deride, and insult young women.

A new kind of yuán has recently appeared on Chinese social media:

  • 支教媛 (zhījiào yuán) - a fake volunteer teacher

It follows a story of a Lóng Jīngjīng 龙晶睛 who spent the last 10 years as a volunteer teacher (a ‘zhījiào’) in poor parts of China. Jīngjīng also studied overseas for 10 years receiving her Master and Batchelor degrees in the US. All by age 28!

Suspicion that she is a fake has been a hot topic on Chinese social media in the last couple of weeks.

Reading into the story (Sohu - Chinese) you will find idioms to talk about people you don’t like, and colloquialisms about dodgy deals and being honest.

Idioms

  • 寥寥无几 (liáoliáo wújǐ) - very few

    但她一年回国的时间,却寥寥无几 - but she hardly ever returned to China

  • 少之又少 (shǎo zhī yòu shǎo) - very very few (less than the above idiom, in my opinion)

    可以说真正用来支教的时间,少之又少 - you could say the time that she actually taught was virtually nil

  • 彻头彻尾 (chètóu chèwěi) - from head to foot; out and out, downright, absolutely

    有人却表示是彻头彻尾的把支教当作秀 - some people have said she absolutely used volunteer teaching as a ‘show’ [to build a profile online]

  • 流言蜚语 (liúyán fēiyǔ) - gossip, rumours

    各种流言蜚语已经满天飞 rumours were flying around

Colloquial phrases

  • 说不清道不明 (shuō bu qīngdào bùmíng) - unexplainable, unclear - here it also means ‘dodgy’ or underhand

    牵涉有说不清道不明的经济利益瓜葛 - involved in dodgy economic interests

  • 真金不怕火炼 (Zhēn jīn bùpà huǒ liàn) - true gold fears no fire; people of integrity can stand up to scrutiny

    真金不怕火炼,破除谣言最好的方法是还原真相 - if she’s done nothing wrong she’s got nothing to worry about. The best way to dispel rumours is to just tell the truth.

Want to learn more idioms to talk about gossip and online rumours? Read last week’s newsletter for three more.


RECOMMENDATIONS

A speech by Ambassador Qín Gāng

Readers of this newsletter will recognise many of the seven ‘buzz words’, or rè cí (热词), in a speech by Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qín Gāng earlier this week.

The Youtube link above is a 4 min Chinese news piece on the speech.

Six of the seven ‘buzz words’, which he uses to capture what life is like in China now, have also been ‘words of the week’ in this newsletter over the last six months:

  • 逆行者 (nìxíng zhě) - hero’s in harm’s way; referring to healthcare workers at the start of the pandemic in China

    See 4 September newsletter

  • 内卷 (nèi juǎn) - involution; intense social competition

    See 1 May newsletter

  • 躺平 (tǎng píng) - lying flat - what many young people are doing in China as a result of huge pressures on them

    See 22 May newsletter

  • 凡尔赛 (fán'ěrsài) - Versailles; humble or fake bragging to show off wealth or over privilege

    See 14 August newsletter

  • 饭圈 (fàn quān) - fan circles, or chaotic fan circles

    See 15 May newsletter

  • 双减 (shuāng jiǎn) - “double reduction policy” - introduced to ease the burden on kids caused by excessive homework and off-campus tutoring

    See 31 July newsletter

For Chinese definitions of these words, and their translations, read this article about the speech in the Observer Magazine. (in Chinese)

Of course, there’s far more to this newsletter than just the ‘official.’ Try this earlier newsletter issue for some on trend slang and swear words that an ambassador probably wouldn’t use.


That’s it for this week - thanks for reading.

All of the ‘words of the week’ are already uploaded onto…

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