Sunday, February 17, 2002

Because Wikipedia is not a "curse words slang dictonary" (sic)

In some ways, Mandarin Chinese slang terms and insults resemble their English counterparts. For example, there are many slang words and insults involving sex. While many insults and expletives involve someone's mother, one may also insult someone by insulting their ancestors. Other Mandarin insults accuse people of not being human. Another difference is that Mandarin words for excrement or feces are much less commonly used in slang and insults, and there are few counterparts to Christian or Islamic blasphemy. Finally, some terms can be written in different ways, because the Chinese language has so many homonyms. Sometimes this means naive speakers use expressions that are much coarser than they realize.

Like English slang, many Chinese slang terms involve the genitalia or other sexual terms. For penis:

  • 鸡巴 jībā (also 鸡鸡, G8, GG) = cock (used as early as the Yuan Dynasty)
  • 弟弟 xiǎo dìdì (lit. "little younger brother") = cock
  • 跨下物 kuà xià wù = penis (literary)
  • 阴茎 yīnjīng = penis (scientific)

There seem to be fewer words for vagina, which is more common as an insult than the ones for penis:

  • 屄 bī (also 逼、比、B) = cunt
  • 傻屄 shǎbī = stupid person
  • 骚屄 sāobī = bitch (lit. "lewd cunt")
  • 臭屄 chòubī = stinking cunt
  • 烂屄 lànbī = rotten cunt
  • 阴道 yīndào = vagina (scientific)

In addition to the above expressions used as insults directed against women, other insults involve intimating they are prostitutes:

  • 臭婊子 chòubiǎozi = stinking whore
  • 贱货 jiànhuò = slut (lit. "cheap commodity")
  • 骚货 sāohuò = slut (lit. "lewd commodity")
  • 小姐 xiǎojiě still means "Miss" in many contexts but now also connotes prostitute to many young women, as it suggests expressions like "做小姐" zuò xiǎojiě or "三陪小姐" sānpéi xiǎojiě, which refers to bargirls who may also be prostitutes

Male masturbation, at least, has several vulgar expressions, in addition to two formal/scientific ones that refer to both male and female masturbation (手淫 shǒuyín and 自慰 zìwèi):

  • 打手枪 dăshǒuqiāng (lit. "firing a handgun") = male masturbation
  • 打飞机 dǎfēijī (lit. "hitting an airplane") = male masturbation
  • 五打一 wǔdǎyī (lit. "five beating one") = male masturbation

As in English, a vulgar word for the sexual act is used in insults and expletives:

  • 操 (originally 肏) cào = fuck (the character 肏 was in use as early as the Ming dynasty in Jin Ping Mei)
  • 操你祖宗十八代 cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài = fuck your ancestors to the eighteenth generation
  • 我靠 wǒ kào = fuck! (Originally from Taiwanese, this has spread to the mainland).

Insulting someone's mother is also common:

  • 他妈的 tā māde (also TMD) = damn (the Chinese expression is actually not very strong; in the 1920's the famous writer Lu Xun joked that this should be China's national curse word.)
  • 他妈的鸟 tā māde niǎo = goddamned
  • 去你奶奶的 qù nǐ nǎinaide, 去你媽的 qù nǐ māde = fuck off (去你的 qù nǐde is a milder version)
  • 你妈的屄 nǐmādebī = your mother's cunt
  • 操你娘 cào nǐ niáng = fuck your mother (also 操你妈)
  • 干你老母 gàn nǐ lǎo mǔ = fuck your mother; kill your mother

Insults include implying that the interlocutor's mother or even grandmother was unfaithful. "Turtle" is commonly explained to be an insult because a turtle does not know its father.

  • 王八 wángbā (sometimes 忘八 wàngbā) = cuckold; this was an insult as early as the Song dynasty; some argue that the 忘八 meant "forgetting the eight [virtues]"
  • 王八蛋 wángbādàn (sometimes 忘八旦, also 忘八羔子 wàngbāgāozi) = bastard (literally "turtle egg")
  • 龟孙子 guī sūnzi (literally "turtle grandson") = bastard; also 龟儿子 guī érzi)
  • 戴绿帽子 dàilǜmàozi = to be a cuckold (literally "wear a green hat" supposedly because male brothel workers in the Tang dynasty had to wear green hats)
  • 杂种 zázhǒng = bastard (literally, crossbreed; originally racist, it is now sometimes racist and sometimes not)

While there are vulgar expressions in English referring to the buttocks or rectum, there are no real equivalents in Mandarin. 屁股眼 pìgu yǎn, the expression for rectum, is not vulgar, but it occurs in various curses involving an imperforate anus:

  • 叫你生孩子没屁股眼 jiào nǐ shēng háizi méi pìgu yǎn = literally, "May your child be born with an imperforate anus"; sometimes 没屁股眼 is used as an epithet similar to "damned"

As in the West, highly sexual women have been feared:

  • 狐狸精 húli jīng = bitch (overly seductive woman)

Occasionally, slang words with a negative connotation are turned around and used positively:

  • 我操 wǒ cào = amazing
  • 牛屄 (also 牛逼) niúbī = fucking awesome (possibly influenced by the expression chuī niú pí, which means "to brag")
  • 屌 diǎo (sometimes 鸟 niǎo) = cock; this was an insult as long ago as the Jin Dynasty. Now it sometimes also means "cool" or "outrageous", thanks in large part to the pop star Jay Chou

Other insults include the word 混 hùn, which means "mixed-up"

  • 混账 hùnzhàng = son of a bitch
  • 混蛋 hùndàn (also 昏蛋, 浑蛋)= son of a bitch
  • 混球 hùnqiú = son of a bitch

Perhaps it is the influence of 王八蛋 wángbādàn, 蛋 dàn ("egg") is used in a number of other insults in addition to 混蛋 hùndàn

  • 笨蛋 bèndàn = dummy, fool
  • 捣蛋 dǎodàn (also 倒蛋) = to cause trouble
  • 滚蛋 gǔndàn = get lost!
  • 坏蛋 huàidàn = bad person
  • 糊涂蛋 hútú dàn = confused/clueless person

For some reason, 瓜 guā (melon or gourd) is also used in insults:

  • 傻瓜 shǎguā (also 傻子 shǎzi) = dummy, fool (in use as early as the Yuan dynasty)
  • 呆瓜 dàiguā (also 呆子 dàizi) = dummy, fool

废 ("useless") appears in a number of insults:

  • 窝囊废 wōnang fèi= loser
  • 废人 fèi rén = useless person

Because shame is important in Chinese culture, insulting someone as "shameless" is much stronger than in English:

  • 不要脸 bùyàoliǎn = shameless

Other insults accuse people of lacking qualities expected of a human being:

  • 畜生 chùsheng = animal (these characters are also used for Japanese "chikushō", which may mean beast, but is also used as an expletive, like "damn!")
  • 你不是人 nǐ bú shì rén = you're not human (lit: "you are not a person")
  • 你是什么东西 nǐ shì shénme dōngxi = you're less than human (lit: "you are nothing")
  • 你不是东西 nǐ búshì dōngxi = you're less than human (lit: "you are nothing")
  • 不要脸的东西 bùyàoliǎn de dōngxī = you're shameless and less than human (lit.: "you are a thing that has no shame")

死 sǐ ("dead") is used in a number of insults:

  • 死鬼 sǐ guǐ = bastard
  • 死三八、臭三八 sǐ sānbā, chòu sānbā = bitch
  • 死不要脸 sǐ bùyàoliǎn = shameless (lit: "[you] died without shame")

Whereas "shit" is a vulgar word in English, none of the various words for "excrement" in Chinese are in themselves vulgar, and are less commonly used as expletives. Perhaps because farting results in something that is useless even for fertilizer, "放屁" ("to fart") is an expletive in Chinese:

  • 放屁 fàng pì = bullshit,nonsense (literally "to fart"; used as an expletive as early as the Yuan dynasty)
  • 屁话 pìhuà = nonsense

The fact that many insults are prefaced with the Chinese word for dog attest to the animal's low status:

  • 狗崽子 gǒuzǎizi (also 狗仔子) = son of a dog
  • 狗屁 gǒu pì = bullshit, nonsense (lit. "dog fart"; in use as early as the Qing dynasty novel Ru Lin Wai Shi (1740-50))
  • 狗屁不通 gǒu pì bù tōng = incoherent, nonsensical
  • 狗日的 gǒurìde = damned (from Liu Heng's story "Dogshit Food")
  • 狗屎堆 gǒushǐ duī = a person who behaves badly (lit. "a pile of dog excrement"); 狗屎 gǒushǐ, or "dog excrement", was used to describe people of low moral character as early as the Song dynasty
  • 狗杂种 = literally "mongrel dog", a variation on 杂种, above.
  • 走狗 zǒugǒu = often translated into English as "running dog", it means an unprincipled person who helps or flatters other, more powerful and often evil people (also 狗腿子 gǒutuǐzi or 狗腿)

One of the few insults connected to the supernatural is not used to damn but to compare the insulted person to a disliked god:

  • 瘟神 wēnshén = troublemaker (literally "plague god")

Some expressions are harder to explain:

  • 二百五 érbáiwǔ = stupid person (see 250)

While there are various circumlocutions in Chinese for homosexual, like 断袖 duǎnxiù, 余桃 yútáo, and 玻璃 bōli, these are less common as insults. Recently 同志 tóngzhì (lit. "comrade") has joined the lexicon as a jocular expression for homosexual.


Blogger Deirdre RainGlen said...

This Chinese/Taiwanese lady thanks you.

2:56 AM  

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