Trends and Buzz

Cartoon slang, rock jargon, and Garfield's netspeak


Slang as it has appeared in the media recently:

I. Anime-influenced slang: This week's Sanlian Life Week features several pieces on the 60th anniversary of Japanese cartoons. Accompanying the article is a short glossary of terms that have made their way into Chinese. Some excerpts:

· 王道 (wángdào): In ancient Chinese philosophy, this refers to benevolent rulership. In its anime-inspired version, it means "authority," "truth," or "key point." There's an advertising slogan that reads, "Discounts are wangdao."
· 乱入 (luànrù): Originally "to enter without permission," this is now used to mean "please come in."
· 卡瓦伊 (kǎwǎyī): Phonetics for Japanese kawaii "cute."
· 暴走 (bàozǒu): Behaviour after losing control of oneself. It's now used in Chinese outdoors and travel magazines to refer to hiking.
· 绝赞 (juézàn): High praise, typically followed by a string of exclamation points. There's also 怒赞 (nùzàn), which Sanlian calls a fan creation inspired by the Japanese term.

II. Rock jargon: In 2002, the Beijing-based music critic, poet, and Sub Jam record label founder Yan Jun published a collection of essays titled Under-underground: Notes From a New Music Prowler. Included as an appendix was a glossary that listed 1990s-era slang used in China's rock circles.

At the end of June, New Century Weekly printed a new list of slang as part of its two-decade retrospective of Chinese rock. "Chinese Rock Jargon 2.0", was compiled by music critic Jian Cui, little more than two decades old himself, and included updated terms for the new millennium.

III. Netspeak: The latest issue of NCW reports on the "Martian language" that's popular among wired youth in Taiwan. The magazine is only about seven months behind the times - the mainland press picked up on the trend after the mixture of Chinese, English letters, phonetics, symbols, and homophones was used in a question on a college assessment exam. Anyway, in case you haven't seen it yet, here's a Chinese-Martian translation tool.

Over on the mainland, netspeak has made Garfield 2 a hit, say film critics in YWeekend. The movie was panned by newspapers from Southern Metropolis Weekly ("Why Garfield 2 is so bad") to The Beijing News ("Garfield 2 wastes the idea of twins") to China Business View ("Formulaic"). But audiences have generally been pleased, particularly by the characterization.

Unlike the original English version and the Hong Kong and Taiwan dubs, which had separate actors voice Garfield and his British counterpart, the mainland version used a single voice actor who distinguished the two cats through their speech registers. One cat speaks more formally, while the other is dubbed using elements of netspeak (like and 东东) and lines reminiscent of popular quotes from movies and commercials. The result is a completely inculturated Garfield. As the critic Laowai reflects:

With this dialogue brimming with Chinese flavor, I think, when we have closer and closer connections with Hollywood, I feel frightened - if not for England's Big Ben and guards, as well as the foreign supporting actors all over the place, how could you believe that this was a Garfield who had lived his whole life in the US?

Also: HR code words and office-speak.

Links and Sources
There are currently 7 Comments for Cartoon slang, rock jargon, and Garfield's netspeak.

Comments on Cartoon slang, rock jargon, and Garfield's netspeak

Small correction to yr interesting posting on the latest trendy Ch slang - 卡瓦伊 (kǎwǎyī) isn't the Japanese pronunciation of 可爱, it is the regular (and much used) Japanese word for "cute" (as in Hello Kitty, etc ad nauseam), think similarity with 可爱 is pure coincidence.

Thanks for the correction.

Whoops, I have been corrected by a Japanese colleague. Kawaii can be written with kanji 可爱 but I still think similarity is coincidence (though could be proved wrong on this too..)

does that mandarin/netspeak translation tool only work with traditional characters?

It certainly appears that way. 這 becomes ㄓ but 这 does not.

kawaii = 可愛い

卡瓦伊 is the very pronounciation of かわぃぃin Japanese its Chinese meaning is可爱 means lovely~!

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives