How to Understand Chinese Internet Shorthand
February 5, 2015 |

By: Wenxin Huang

Similar to western social media, Chinese Internet shorthand is comprised of idioms, acronyms, clever double meanings, etc. There is a wide variety ofChinese Internet slang, below are the main categories that currently exist.

Acronyms and Initialisms:

Trends of using acronyms and initialisms by Chinese Internet users startedwith SF, derived from Sofa, which was used to identify someone as the firstperson to comment a post (as the sofa is traditionally the best seat in thehouse). Many acronyms were made since then and most of them are abbreviations of phonetic transcriptions of Chinese characters, for example RT stands for 如题(pinyin: ru ti) in Chinese, which means “as title”.

Onomatopoeic words:

Onomatopoeic words may have stemmed from ancient Chinese prose several thousands years ago and some of them have been used ever since. However, they were reincarnated with more modern and personalized meaning when the Network Era began. One example of this is “555”. “555”, the number, in Chinese pronounces the same with “呜呜呜” which were used to portray sounds of a sad song in ancient Chinese prose. Today this word, “555”, is implemented to express a whimper instead of sad songs. For emphasis, people repeat it several times as “55555555” to indicate something that is really sad and would make people cry for a long time.

Homonymic words

Differing from onomatopoeic words, homonymic words were made up from colloquial language. Generally it is a combination of liaison, contraction, and reduction. For example 酱紫(pinyin: jiang zi) is short for 这样子 (pinyin: zhe yang zi), 造 (pinyin: zao) is short for 知道 (pinyin: zhi dao). By reading characters together in this way, multisyllabic words are turned to monosyllable words. Teenagers tend to utilize this type of shorthand. When other people employ this shorthand, it is usually in an attempt to act adorable on purpose.

Idioms and imitate-idioms:

While some of Chinese Internet shorthand is created for phonetics, others stem from their meanings. A new internet lingo 喜大普奔 comes from the first characters of four idioms: 喜闻乐见(means it is the news that people love to hear and see), 大快人心 (means something that cheers people greatly), 普天同庆(means people from all over the universal would celebrate it) and 奔走相告 ( means people rush about telling the news). These four idioms were combined, as one adjective, to show how joyful and delightful something is. Till now 喜大普奔 as a hashtag on Weibo has been discussed 140 millions times.

 For an extensive list of Chinese Internet Shorthand, click here

For all the latest updates follow KAWO on WeChat.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment...
Enter your name (people will see this) (required)
Enter your email (people won't see this) (required)

Back to blog