The Best Chinese Slang to Come Out of 2017

From the awkward to the wealthy, here’s the top Mandarin Slang 2017 gave us, along with a couple of tips on how and when to use them.

The Best Chinese Slang to Come Out of 2017

2017’s the year of the Rooster has been a crazy one. From the myriad of disasters in the news to the destruction of a Chanel Coat in Japan, I think that we can agree there have been highs and lows all over the place.

Yet amongst all of those highs and lows, the internet has been the home of comments, making sure to let nothing to escape its grasp.

And with those comments have come new forms of slang. I’ve previously written about Chinese internet slang in the past. Yet what you’re going to see on this list isn’t just slang which can be used on the internet. This is a list of the best 2017 Chinese slang out there, for use in person and from behind a keyboard.

Money Poverty isn’t scary, what’s scary is when it’s me!

So Rich You Can’t Imagine

贫穷限制了我的想象力 (pínqióng xiànzhìle wǒ de xiǎngxiàng lì)

A bit of a long one, this literally translates to ‘poverty limits my imagination’ – sounds serious, right? Well, it was for one Japanese dry cleaner who found himself being asked for $3,500 after damaging a client’s luxurious Chanel coat whilst trying to clean it.

Confused at how he could have damaged it, he contacted Chanel and asked what he did wrong. Chanel told him that the coat was only meant to be worn a few times and never cleaned. In fact, they even stated that some customers buy it, wear it three times and then throw it away. $3,500 to only wear it three times? 贫穷限制了我的想象力!

Some people are just so rich, you can’t even imagine.

The real question is, did he end up having to pay the money back?

AwkwardHow do I answer that??

Awkward Talk

尬聊 (gàliáo)

In case you didn’t get the memo, 2017 was the year of the Rooster… and the Rooster is apparently an incredibly awkward animal. Just check out the Trump Rooster in Shanxi

For Many young Chinese people, the year of the Rooster came to represent a year of growing pains, with 2017 TV show hits like Princess Agents pretty much perfectly summing it up with it’s awkward, jutting dialogue.

Enter Gàliáo, a combination of the gà of gāngà(尴尬)and the liáo of liáotiān (聊天). Essentially translating - pretty much directly - to awkward talk. Used as a verb, you can say things like:

你尬聊什么?nǐ gà liáo shénme?
What are you awkwardly talking about?

And that’s not all, gà (尬) can be combined with several types of other verbs to create awkward whatever. gà gē (尬歌) for awkward singing, gà wǔ (尬舞) for awkward dancing, or gà bù (尬步) for awkward stepping.

Embrace the year of the Rooster before it’s up and make something a little awkward with the convenient insertion of gà (尬).

Hidden You just had a bad dream...

That Hurts, Bro

扎心了,老铁 (zhāxīn le, lǎotiě)

Another of the best 2017 Chinese slang words came from that (sometimes) annoying screen of text which moves over videos you can watch on some Chinese streaming services. If you don’t know what I mean then head to Bilibili and watch practically any video.

However, back in August a video popped up showing a man questioning his wife about a dream she had been having, which we come to learn was about her sleeping with other men. The post was humorous and a joke, with the title “Wife has a bad dream, hahahahaha that hurts, bro”.

Check out the post for yourself, it’s easy to read. There is a lot of heartbreak though…

Mime And... Scene!

Well Played

戏精 (xì jīng)

This phrase has actually been around for a while and meant when a person was actually very good at acting. Now, it’s come to take on somewhat of a sarcastic tone. For instance, you know when someone mentions the British and someone else decides to put on their best British accent impression? That’s xì jīng. Getting into the role.

It also happens to have equivalences to the English “Drama queen”, so be careful when you use it.

you can do that? You mean, you can eat cereal like that?

Can You Even Do That?

?还有这种操作?(hái yǒu zhè zhǒng cāozuò)

Imagine playing a game against someone when suddenly they manage to pull off something you didn’t even know was possible. Like back when street fighter was the game in everyone’s front room and your friend could somehow activate one of the character’s crazy combos.

Well, with the rise of e-sports in China, this phrase has once again come to have meaning. The strange thing about this sentence is the use of cāozuò (操作), which actually translates to operating a machine. Hence, as the word has made its way into real life, the use of cāozuò sounds misplaced. Despite this, more and more people are finding new ways to operate the world around them.

From faking Share bike stickers to strange fashion choices, Weibo users have been left wonder: 还有这种操作?

Slang is a Perfect Start

Chinese slang is a good start to not sounding like a foreigner when speaking in Mandarin, but there’s also a lot more to it than just a couple of phrases. That being said, Chengyu have been known to help improve sounding like a native speaker on more than one occaison. Conveniently, we have a guide to using them.