Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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It's hard to keep up with Chinese slang when you're living "abroad", so I get excited when I run across pieces like John's (IM?) conversation with jennifer. At the very end, John says this:

潘吉 说:我要下班!

潘吉 说:88

John said: I'm off work.

John said: 88

At first I was confused: what does "88" mean? My guess was that the key is to say it phonetically, "ba ba", which sounds like "bai bai", or "bye bye".

In fact, a Google search shows that such phonetic plays-on-words are very popular in Chinese, no doubt due to the new cellphone culture. A few good examples:

88 = bye bye,白白,拜拜,再見。
"ba ba" = "bai bai", goodbye
9494 = 就是就是。
"jiu su jiu si" = "jiu shi jiu shi", sure sure (but not in the sarcastic sense).
04551 = 你是我唯一
"ling si wu wu yi" = "ni shi wo wei yi", you're the only one for me.

Some of these number puns show the influence of other languages:

4人民 = 為人民。4為for.
this is a play on the english "four" = "for", because 為 (wei) means "for"
+U = 加油。
"+ U" = "jia you", another play on the English "U" sounding (or reading) like "you".
39 = Thank you
Knowing that 9 is "kyuu" in Japanese, "san kyuu" = Thank you.
⋯⋯ing   表示進行時。
...ing, means the transitive tense, and is a cross-over from English.
⋯⋯的說  來自日語語法“⋯⋯と����ます”,表示認為、覺得。
...的說 is from the Japanese "...と����ます", and shows that the preceding is an opinion, or a supposition.

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