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China reveals hottest internet slangs of 2017

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    15:16, December 21, 2017

Chinese authorities on Thursday revealed the 10 most commonly used internet slangs of 2017, noting that the popular words and phrases are the best linguistic representations of China’s current cyber culture.

The selection, which was organized by China’s National Language Resource Monitoring and Research Center, combed through linguistic data from the country’s most popular forums, social media platforms, and online news portals, analyzing the collected information via its massive corpus of over 6 billion Chinese characters.

Like their global counterparts, Chinese netizens are known for coming up with quirky and creative terms to describe new social phenomena and some of the slang has already become a way of indicating group membership. From “oily wrinkle” to “awkward chat,” People’s Daily Online takes you on a tour of what has captured their imagination this year, as well as offering our readers a glimpse into the vitality of Chinese language.

1. 打call (beat a call)

Originally derived from Japanese, the phrase “beat a call” refers to a cheering dance performed by “otaku,” or people obsessed with pop culture. Featuring enthusiastic jumping, clapping, and glow stick waving, “beat a call” has become the most popular internet slang in 2017, with Chinese netizens using it to show approval and support for people, things, or events.

Though the neologism isn’t yet familiar enough to be used in the mainstream media without glossing, it’s getting there, with several major outlets in China using the word in their news reports. In October, Xinhua released an article regarding the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in which it called for the public to “beat a call” for Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

2. 尬聊 (awkward chat)

The phrase “awkward chat” refers to inevitable chats with boring people. It is used when the person you are talking with lacks good communication skills, or when your mind wanders off, and the talk comes to a dead end.

Some linguists suggest that the phrase may have a connection with typical Chinese temperament of refraining oneself from criticizing or directly embarrassing others, as abrupt interruption or refusal to talk would be considered impolite in the Chinese cultural context.

3. 你的良心不会痛吗?(Won’t your conscience hurt?)

Two ancient poets’ unequal friendship turned out to be a goldmine for Chinese netizens when they discovered that Du Fu, China’s “poet-sage” in the Tang Dynasty, had written 15 poems for his equally famous poet friend Li Bai, though the latter had seldom returned the favor. Many netizens have jokingly slashed Li for his “lack of conscience.” The phrase was quickly adopted as a way to taunt or criticize heartless people.

4. 扎心了,老铁 (My heart was pricked, Laotie)

The word “laotie” originates from northern Chinese dialect and means “good buddies,” while “pricked heart” means “hurting someone’s feeling.” The phrase was adopted on some online streaming websites and is now used to vent grievances to close friends.

5. 油腻 (oily)

“Oily” is used to describe middle-aged men who are rude, sloppy, and out of shape. The word first appeared on Chinese social media platforms such as Sina Weibo, and was later picked by netizens from a famous online article on how to avoid becoming an oily obscene middle-aged man.

The term emerged as a comedic insult, and like many of its kinds, an initially vulgar epithet became a self-ascribed identity, in a classic example of a group of middle-class youngsters who has no time for their personal life and care claiming the once derogatory term as their own.

Though there have been ongoing debates about how the use of internet slang may cast negative influence on the standardization of language, many Chinese netizens have countered that creative terms can provide better expressions of language, offering them more linguistic choices to reflect personal taste.

The China’s National Language Resource Monitoring and Research Center has also expressed positive opinion on internet slang, noting that such linguistic creations are the essence of Chinese internet users’ wisdom, while their humorous style and up-to-date content enable them to become one of the best representations of China’s cyber community.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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