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In defence of Beijing's dirty words

Chinese blog Massage Milk has posted another classic, defending Beijing's famous filthy language against people saying that the capital's enthusiasm for swearing will give China a bad image. Below is a rough translation:

Recently, some media have been worrying about jing ma [Beijing style swearing and the constant sound of profanities you hear if you walk around Beijing], saying that if spectators at the Olympic Games constantly hear Beijingers cursing, it will be very embarrasing. Therefore, there are people calling for an elimination to Beijing swearing before 2008. 



This is a typical Chinese way of thinking, and also a typical example of Chinese people acting as if everything is OK, even when it really isn't.

You hear the leaders are coming for a visit, so you quickly clean everything up. You hear guests are coming, so you suddenly tidy up your house. What the hell are you doing the rest of the time? 

Sometimes, daily habits and culture are the results of a long period of accumulated experience.

If you take Beijing swearing as an example, you actually only need two characters to explain it: stupid cunt (sha bi). Don't pay attention to the fact that these two characters may seem a little vulgar, because they actually conceal several generations of Beijingers' wisdom. 



Chinese has two slang expressions that I think are profound: one is "fuck! (wo cao, literally 'I fuck', sometimes closer in meaning to 'fuck me!'), one is "stupid cunt" (sha bi).


There'a an old story about a world story-telling competition. The winner is the one who can use the fewest words to tell the most complicated story. In the end, the winner was a Chinese guy. This guy told a story about riding a bicycle up a mountain to look at the scenery, and then having an accident. The whole story only had two words "Fuck me!" (wo cao).



If you have seen the film In the Heat of the Sun, you might remember Ma Xiaojun warching his teacher through the telescope, repeating again and again one phrase: "Fuck me!" (wo cao). But each time he says it, because of differences in the tone, stress and length of the vowel sound, it means something completely different. The phrase can mean many different things, depending on how it's said. This is, in fact, culture.



Sha bi and wo cao can both mean very different things according to the tone in which they are pronounced. Because of the frequency of their use, these words are often used as modal particles, gradually merging into Chinese grammar like de and di. If they suddenly disappeared, the language would not hang together. 



Words express people's feelings, and are tools for exchanging information. Sha bi and wo cao are words that best express Beijinger's feelings. It wouldn't be easy to stop the use of these words unless you can find another two suitable words to replace them... 



...If you think that Beijingers are not civilized, then don't hold the Olympic Games in Beijing! Beijing has always been a country bumpkin city, as I have said many times before. The city has not yet progressed to a state of refinement. If you want foreigners to understand Beijing and understand China, then you should let them know a Beijing that has not been painted like the grass that sometimes gets sprayed with green dye, they should see the city in its real colors. Whatever is bad about it, it is the real Beijing. 



There are many, many uncivilized things in Beijing. If a city is full of sha bi things, why the hell do you want to stop people calling out sha bi? The people have sha bi rights!

If one day this city solves all of its sha bi problems, then perhaps you won't hear Beijing swearing. 

Think about it: with such sha bi looking Olympic mascots, why the hell can't we scream out sha bi when we attend Olympic events?

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