What to say to a boss who's gone too far, talking about being an entrepreneur in 1990's China, and discussing "female Buddhist socialites"

Slow Chinese 每周漫闻

Morning!

It’s Saturday again which means it’s time to dig into some useful, topical and authentic Chinese words and phrases.

In this week’s newsletter…

Conversations worth Consuming:

  • A letter full of idioms about hard work from Evergrande boss, Xǔ Jiāyìn (许家印), and social media reactions to it

  • Quotes from entrepreneur Chén Zémín (陈泽明) about business in China in the 1990’s

Words of the week:

  • 2 x on-trend words you should know

  • 3 x three-character combos to drop into conversations

  • 4 x colloquialisms to make your Chinese sound more authentic

Recommendation:

  • A blog article featuring slang words from previous issues of this newsletter

If you like what you read, please do help share this newsletter with fellow Chinese language learners.

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CONVERSATIONS WORTH CONSUMING

1. Idioms about hard work, and what to say to a boss who’s gone too far

Evergrande chairman, Xǔ Jiāyìn (许家印), broke his silence this week with a letter to his employees - a 家书 (jiāshū), ‘a letter home’ - on Mid Autumn Festival .

In his letter, Xǔ uses plenty of idioms about hard work and sacrifice. Including:

  • 身先士卒 (shēnxiān shìzú) - lead the charge into battle

  • 没日没夜 (méi rì méi yè) - working day and night

  • 百折不挠 (bǎizhé bùnáo) - indomitable, persistent

Here they are, along with a few more thrown in for good measure, in his letter:

各级领导排除万难、身先士卒没日没夜,是保障公司大局稳定的中流砥柱。

Leaders at all levels have overcome many challenges, led from the front and worked day and night; they are the mainstay of ensuring the overall stability of the company.

….

同事们,让我们更加紧密团结起来,以百折不挠的勇气,坚韧不拔的精神,全力以赴履行好我们的社会责任,共同创造美好的未来!

Colleagues, let us unite more closely, with indomitable courage and perseverance, do everything we can to fulfil our social responsibilities and create a better future together!

Despite the floral language, unsurprisingly, many Netizens were not impressed (163.com - Chinese).

Hidden in their criticism is some useful vocab to drop into conversations with a boss you’ve had enough of, or that’s gone too far.

Useful words

  • 狗屁 (gǒupì) - none-sense, rubbish, crap

    什么狗屁隐私 - what f*cking privacy?

  • 开药方 (kāi yàofāng) - prescribing medicine; here it means ‘told him how it is’

    有网友给许家印开出了药方 - China’s netizens have let Xu know how they feel

Idioms

  • 揭不开锅 (jiē bu kāi guō) - can’t open the pot; can’t afford to put food on the table

    先还金服,谢谢、家里揭不开锅了 - return your golden clothes first, thank you. I can’t even afford to put food on the table.

  • 骄奢淫逸 (jiāoshē yínyì) - arrogant and indulgent

    这样骄奢淫逸的公司,不倒闭才怪 - it would be incredible if such a corrupt company did not go bankrupt

  • 大意失荆州 (dàyì shī jīngzhōu) - ‘losing Jingzhou through carelessness’, meaning to suffer a major set back due to carelessness and arrogance (This is from a famous story from the Three Kingdoms period. Read more here - Baike, in Chinese)

    关羽大意失荆州?改写三国历史就在此刻 - Guan Yu losing Jingzhou through carelessness? The Three Kingdoms history is being re-written right now!

Recommended reading: SupChina have a fantastic piece on Xǔ Jiāyìn (许家印), explaining why he’s called Belt Brother (皮带哥 - pídài gē), detailing his extravagance and much more.

2. Talking about being an entrepreneur in China in the 1990’s

Now onto a conversation with an entrepreneur who’s a bit more wholesome.

Chén Zémín (陈泽明) has built one of China’s biggest frozen food companies - Sān quán (三全) - which makes frozen sweet dumplings (汤圆) amongst other things.

There’s some good quotes from him in a piece in The Entrepreneur (创业家) Wechat feed this week, with useful words to describe what business life was like in the 1990’s in China.

Useful words

  • 九二派 (jiǔ'èr pài) - ‘the ‘92 group’ - the name given to entrepreneurs like Chen Zemin, Ren Zhengfei and Wang Shi (and Xu Jiayin - see above) who went into business shortly after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992.

    九二派创业除了有着创富的梦想,也有着为了社会创新、创造新世界的理想主义 - the ‘92 group’, as well as having a dream to create wealth, also have an idealist view of innovating for society and creating a new and better world

    • Related: 下海 (xiàhǎi) - going into business from a comfortable public sector job

  • 排长龙 (pái chánglóng) - join a very long queue

    陈家卖大家都想尝鲜的冰淇淋,开业就排起了长龙 - when Chen started selling fresh ice-cream it was a hit - people were queuing to try it

  • 山寨 (shānzhài) - copycat, fakes (can be a verb or a noun)

    陈泽民刚刚申请的两项专利,马上就被山寨了 - as soon as Chen Zemin would apply for a patent it would be copied immediately.

Idioms

  • 事必躬亲 (shìbì gōngqīn) - do everything yourself

    陈师傅事必躬亲,样样拿手 - master Chen did everything himself, he was an expert at each task

  • 龙蛇混杂 (lóng shé hùnzá) - snakes creeping amongst the dragons; a messy or chaotic market

    在龙蛇混杂的食品市场环境里,首先保证产品质量,做好服务 - at that time the market was chaotic, the main thing was to ensure product quality and good service.

Recommended reading: Want to learn lots more useful business-y words like 山寨? Dig into this earlier newsletter…

Slow Chinese 每周漫闻
Secret weapons, laying landmines and three-character words about battles
Hi, Welcome to the Slow Chinese newsletter - 每周漫闻. It’s a weekly dose of useful words and phrases from this week’s news for long-time learners of Chinese who lack the time, motivation, materials or environment to keep their Chinese language going…
Read more

WORDS OF THE WEEK

This week’s words of the week come from news stories about:

On-trend words

  • 佛媛 (fó yuán) - ‘buddhist beauty’ (Buddhist 佛系, and ‘notable female celebrity’ 名媛; also a play on words of 佛缘 - Fó yuán, being in touch with the Buddha); Sixth Tone translates it as ‘female Buddhist socialite’

    最近又开始流行一种新的网红——佛媛 - there’s a new kind of internet celebrity that’s become popular - a female Buddhist socialite

  • 众包 (zhòng bāo) - crowd-sourced delivery drivers, who aren’t directly employed by delivery companies

    众包就是“想干就干,不想干就不干” - crowdsourced drivers can decide if they work or not

    • Related: 个体户 (gètǐhù) - one-man band; gig worker

Useful three-character combos

  • 坐不住 (zuò bù zhù) - can’t sit still, can’t stand it (similar to 受不了 but with more anger or excitement)

    佛媛的图片发在网上后,懂佛法网友们坐不住了 - when fó yuán post their images online, it drives people who understand Buddhism totally mad.

  • 重头戏 (zhòngtóuxì) - the highlight, the most important bit (of a performance, an event or an outfit)

    看似漫不经心只占据镜头一角的包包,实际上是整个画面的重头戏 - the bag is subtly placed in the corner of the image, but actually it’s the main feature

  • 打卡地 (dǎkǎ di) - selfie spot

    佛门不作打卡地 - Buddhist places are not meant to be selfie spots

Colloquialisms

  • 狐狸尾巴藏不住 (húlí wěibā cáng bù zhù) - a fox cannot hide its tail; not to be trusted

    兴起“佛媛”热潮官媒批狐狸尾巴藏不住 - the new trend of ‘female Buddhist socialites’ has been criticised by state media - “a fox cannot hide its tail” (these people are not to be trusted)

  • 百思不得其解 (bǎi sī bùdé qí jiě) - totally confused, have no idea

    他们对今天的青年人非常不爽,真是百思不得其解 - they have absolutely no idea why today’s youth are so unhappy

  • 滑天下之大稽 (huá tiānxià zhī dà jī) - absolutely ridiculous; the most ridiculous thing ever

    简直是滑天下之大稽 - this is absolutely ridiculous

  • 上有政策,下有对策 (shàng yǒu zhèngcè, xià yǒu duìcè) - the government have policies, the people (or companies) have work-arounds

    当真是“上有政策,下有对策”?- what happens when [the delivery companies] really do ignore the policies?


RECOMMENDATION

This week’s recommendation is a blog article by online language school LTL Mandarin:

They took internet words and slang from previous issues of this newsletter and created flashcards for their students - such as the one above. (Not sure how useful the ‘Tesla hater’ one will be?!)

Here are some of their other favourites:

  • 货 (huò) - a derogatory slang word meaning ‘idiot’ or ‘thicko’

    See 6 March newsletter for more

  • 去油 (qù yóu) - avoiding cheesy-ness

    See 28 August newsletter for more

  • 王炸 (wáng zhà) - ‘fried king’, meaning ‘killer punch’ or ‘best move’

    See 28 August newsletter for more

Finally, this week’s words will soon be uploaded onto…


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

So, what new words did you learn this week?

Why not share them by replying to this email!