China's 2017 Buzzwords: Can you freestyle? Drama Queen

2017-12-22 14:44:25 Hayley Liu

Internet buzzwords are just like Internet celebrities; when lots of people discover them in a short time, it starts a viral trend. Before you know it they have overtaken the Internet and their faces are all over social media, the television, the news, and are the centre of advertisements.

In 2017, Chinese took to social media to come up with some funny and confusing new phrases. From "Can you freestyle?" to "drama queen", nearly 30,000 Weibo users voted and chose the following Internet buzzwords for 2017.

Can you freestyle?

Chinese: 你有freestyle吗?

Pinyin: nǐ yǒu freestyle ma

"Can you freestyle?" has become an immensely popular phrase on China's social media network since Chinese pop singer and actor Kris Wu repeatedly grilled contestants on reality TV show the Rap of China as a judge.

With 2.7 billion views on China's largest online video hosting website iQiyi, the show has put hip-hop music into the national spotlight for the first time in China.

According to Wikipedia, "freestyle" refers to a style of improvisation with or without instrumental beats, in which lyrics are recited with no particular subject or structure. Kris Wu explained that the ability to freestyle is indispensable for rappers.

Today, "Can you freestyle" has morphed into other memes. Some Internet users even adapt the buzzword into a variety of emojis, further promoting the use of "freestyle". Some Internet users have been inspired by the buzzword and consider it the new standard to live up to.

I daily examine myself with three questions:

Can I freestyle?

Can I freestyle again?

Can I be freestyled?

You stabbed my heart, buddy!

Chinese: 扎心了,老铁

Pinyin: zhāxīn le, lǎo tiě

It's a joking sentence that could be used when someone points out something you don't realize or you don't want to admit and that may hurt your feelings.

"扎心" can be literally translated as "stabbing one's heart", could be used when you take something seriously and the fact hurts you. "老铁" is a dialect in northeastern China which means "close friend".

The phrase was firstly used in China's booming live-streaming industry. It is estimated to reach 4.4 billion U.S. dollars by revenue next year, up by 86% from 2016. Millions are broadcasting their lives on livestreams, and nearly half of China's 710 million Internet users are watching them.

To tamp down on the industry's exuberance, China set out rules for livestreaming such as a ban on "obscene material" - including "erotic banana-eating" and compelled platforms to step up control and the monitoring of content.


"Why do you love to watch romantic films when you are a single dog?" "You stabbed my heart, buddy!"

The average income in Beijing is 9,942 yuan, while my income is half of that number. It has stabbed my heart, buddy!

Doesn't this hurt your heart?

Chinese: 你的良心不会痛吗?

Pinyin: nǐ de liáng xīn bù huì tòng ma

The phrase is often used among friends to express disappointment when betrayed or criticized.

On Q&A website Zhihu (Chinese answer to Quaro), users surprisingly found out that Chinese ancient poet Li Bai wasn't as compassionate as his celebrated works. Even though his contemporary Du Fu (also a renowned poet) highly respected Li and wrote poets to him, Li stayed untouched and dedicated poets to other less celebrated poet. Many users commented jokingly as if they were asking long-deceased Li "Doesn't this hurt your heart?"

Doesn't this hurt your heart?

Doesn't this burn your heart?

Of course not.

I don't have what you called ''heart''.

My heart is twisted.

The meme is also notable for using the image of parrot brothers, mascots created by Japanese telecom operator DOCOMO. They have large cute eyes, a fat body and furry features. They have suddenly became popular in China at the beginning of 2017, because many thought they were chickens and this is the Year of Rooster in China's lunar calendar.

Embarrassing chat

Chinese: 尬聊

Pinyin: gàliáo

Picture this: you are having a pleasant conversation when someone joins in, and says something awkward, inappropriate or utterly irrelevant. Though everyone feels embarrassed, the conversation continues. In China, those moments are known as 尬聊(gàliáo).

Of course, embarrassment doesn't only exist in conversation. 尬 could be used as a prefix to any verbs you could imagine, and the most important example is 尬舞, bad dancing. You could also use 尬演 to describe terrible acting and 尬评 to describe embarrassing review.

Drama queen

Chinese: 戏精

Pinyin: xì jīng

The phrase is originally used to describe someone with excellent acting skills, but nowadays it has been repurposed with a negative connotation to describe attention-seekers and shameless self-promoters.

The phrase could be used to humorously describe someone who's funny and interesting, and could be used to criticize someone who always wants to draw people's attention to himself. For Example: The baby cries a whole day. I bet he'll grow into one of those drama queens.



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