10 Chinese buzzwords in 2018

From textbooks, you can learn proper grammar, regular words and vocabulary, as well as sentence structure. You can also learn simple and ordinary conversations and dialogue. But what you can’t learn from textbooks are the slang, phrases, and buzzwords that regular people use in their everyday talk.

With the help of the National Language Resource Monitoring and Research Center, the Commercial Press, and CCTV News, China has released its “Top Words and Phrases of 2018” just last Thursday. Covering the period from November 20, 2017, to December 3, 2018, and contributed by netizens across the country, these are the words and phrases that reflect the hot issues that concerned Chinese speakers this past year.

Let’s take a look at these ten latest Chinese buzzwords.

1. 锦鲤 (jǐn lǐ)

锦鲤 refers to the Koi fish. Since 锦鲤 represents good luck in 风水(fengshui), Chinese people are very interested in them. Numerous koi fish related tweets are reposted to wish others better health and abundant wealth.

In China and Japan, people have a long history of keeping koi fish which is believed to bring good luck. The tradition is kept on the internet, as “转发锦鲤(reposting koi fish)”, and it has become a trend in Chinese social media.

e.g.

转发这个锦鲤,你2019会一切顺利!(Zhuǎnfā zhège jǐn lǐ, nǐ 2019 huì yīqiè shùnlì!)

Repost this Koi Fish, everything will go smoothly with you in 2019!

转发这条微博,你就是下一个锦鲤!(Zhuǎnfā zhè tiáo wēi bó, nǐ jiùshì xià yīgè jǐn lǐ!)

Repost this tweet, you are the next Koi Fish!

2. 佛系 (fó xì)

Literally, 佛(fó) means Buddha and 系(xì) means system or style. 佛系 refers to a Buddha-like mindset.

For the Chinese youth, being 佛系 means adopting a peaceful state of mind and not caring how others think about them. The popular slogan goes like “都可以/都行(dōu kěyǐ/dōu xíng)” (Anything is okay), “就这样吧(就这样吧)” (Let it be), “ 没关系 (méiguānxì)”, (It doesn`t matter), etc. Somehow, they are regarded as more negative emotions since it seems that some people just simply want to avoid the stresses from competitive surroundings by taking this mindset.

e.g.

A: 什么都行。我无所谓。(Shénme dōu xíng. Wǒ wúsuǒwèi.)

Anything is okay. I don`t mind.

B: 那么佛系?(Nàme fó xì?)

Such buddha-like?

A: 是的,我现在是佛系青年。(Shì de, wǒ xiànzài shì fó xì qīngnián.)

Yes, I`m a Buddha-like youth now.

3. Skr

Originally, this sound refers to the car tire friction. Skr was known widely by people because of Chinese young idol Kris Wu who used the term frequently on a show called中国有嘻哈(the Rap of China). It`s very popular among netizens who now somewhat use it for mocking. But at first, it was used to express admiration and praise.

Since it sounds similar to the Chinese sound [si ge] which can be transcribed as 是个,死个, etc., thus this sound is also used in many sound-related sentences.

e.g.

冷skr人了。冷死个人了。(Lěng sǐ gè rénle.)

It`s sooo cold!

你真skr人才。你真是个人才。(Nǐ zhēn shì gè réncái.)

You are such a talent.

4. 杠精 (gàng jīng)

Contrarian, hater

Here 杠 is from the Chinese word “抬杠(táigàng)” which means contradict or talk back. 杠精 describes someone who automatically takes the opposite point-of-view from the person to whom they`re speaking. These people just argue for the sake of arguing.

e.g.

A: 我发现我老板的管理方式真的很有问题。(Wǒ fāxiàn wǒ lǎobǎn de guǎnlǐ fāngshì zhēn de hěn yǒu wèntí.)

I find that my boss’s management style to be really problematic.

B: 那你怎么不去当老板?(Nà nǐ zěnme bù qù dāng lǎobǎn?)

Then why aren’t you the boss?

A: 我刚从云南回来。那里真的是太美了。(Wǒ gāng cóng yúnnán huílái. Nàlǐ zhēn de shì tàiměile)

I just came back from Yunnan. It’s so beautiful.

B: 美吗?那你显然是没去过九寨沟了。(Měi ma? Nà nǐ xiǎnrán shì méi qùguò jiǔzhàigōule.)

Beautiful? You’ve obviously never seen Jiuzhaigou!

5. 确认过眼神 (Quèrèn guò yǎnshén)

Literally 确认过眼神 means “Have confirmed the expression from the eyes.” The netizens use this phrase to express “we can see that from one`s eyes” or “to look somebody in the eyes.”

e.g.

确认过眼神,你就是对的人!(Quèrènguò yǎnshén, nǐ jiùshì duì de rén!)

Looking you in the eyes, you are the correct one!

确认过眼神,他是不理想的人。(Quèrènguò yǎnshén, tā shì bù lǐxiǎng de rén.)

I can see that from his eyes. He is not the ideal one.

6. 官宣 (guān xuān)

官宣 is short for 官方宣布which literally means “an official announcement”. The abbreviated version 官宣 is often used on the internet for netizens to announce something.

e.g.

官宣!我们结婚啦!(Guān xuān! Wǒmen jiéhūn la!)

Official announcement! We are getting married!

我的偶像官宣恋爱了。(Wǒ de ǒuxiàng guān xuān liàn’àile.)

My idol officially announced that she/he is in love.

7. 土味情话 (Tǔ wèi qínghuà)

土味情话refers to lines which sound very emotional, romantic, and even embarrassing in some way, though it`s often also used to break the ice. For netizens, it`s a kind of cold humour composed of love words. Here are some cheesy pick-up lines for you:

你不累吗?你已经在我的脑海中跑一天了。(Nǐ bù lèi ma? Nǐ yǐjīng zài wǒ de nǎohǎi zhōng pǎo yītiānle.)

Are you sure you’re not tired? You’ve been running through my mind all day.

我觉得我认识你。因为你看起来像我下一个女朋友。(Wǒ juédé wǒ rènshì nǐ. Yīnwèi nǐ kàn qǐlái xiàng wǒ xià yīgè nǚ péngyǒu.)

I think I know you. Because you look exactly like my next girlfriend.

8. 皮一下 (Pí yī xià)

Literally speaking, 皮 means “being naughty” in the Chinese language, which is often used in oral Chinese. 皮一下 indicates making fun of someone or playing a trick, and it sounds a little cute.

e.g.

皮一下很开心。(Pí yīxià hěn kāixīn.)

It`s fun to be naughty.

没事儿就想皮一下。(Méishìr jiù xiǎng pí yīxià.)

I want to play a trick when there is nothing to do.

9. 燃烧我的卡路里 (Ránshāo wǒ de kǎlùlǐ)

Literally, this sentence means “burn my calories.” It comes from a song called Calorie which is sung by the hot Chinese girl group 火箭少女101 (Rocket Girls 101). Its special melody, lyrics, and very contentious singers made the line of this song a hit all over the internet.

10. C位 (C wèi)

C is an abbreviation of the word “centre”, so “C位” means the centre position. It generally refers to the centre of the stage, the artist’s position in the middle, or the most crucial spot of a poster. Just like the one above, 燃烧我的卡路里, this phrase also originated from the girl group 火箭少女101 (Rocket Girls 101).

Apparently, this group really was a hit in 2018. The girls of this group are selected by internet users basing on the reality show 创造101 (Produce 101). There were about 100 trainees to be selected and trained. In the end, only nine girls were left on the stage as the final winners to compose this new girl idol group. The centre position trainees would get the best position of the group.

e.g.

投票!让你的偶像C位出道!(tóupiào! Ràng nǐ de ǒuxiàng C wèi chūdào!)

Vote!Make your idol enter entertainment with the centre position!

照相的时候一般领导站C位。(Zhàoxiàng de shíhòu yībān lǐngdǎo zhàn C wèi.)

Normally, the leaders will take the centre position when taking photos.