February, 2015

New Chinese Acronyms

Does the Chinese language have acronyms, i.e., abbreviations "formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word"? The answer is Yes. They are formed by taking one character out of each word composing the compound word or phrase and concatenating the characters, e.g., "社科" for "社会科学" (social sciences), "北大" for "北京大学 (Peking or Beijing University), "扫盲" for "扫除文盲" (elimination of illiteracy), "民警" for "人民警察" (people's police), "清华" for "清华大学" (Qinghua or Tsinghua University). The characters in the abbreviations are taken from various positions in the original compound word, although those taking from the initial positions are more than the others.

Most established acronyms are easy to understand. But the young generation have made up new acronyms on the Internet that sound quite odd, awkward and, perhaps on first sight, faux antique or literary, e.g.,

不明觉厉: short for "不明白,害"; Although I don't understand you, I feel that you're great or powerful.
喜大普奔: short for "闻乐见、快人心、天同庆、走相告"; Happy to hear and see, greatly pleasing people's mind, over the world all cheer, run to inform others. This one is special in that all the four 4-character words are themselves established idioms.
男默女泪: short for "生看了会沉生看了会流"; The guy says no word, the girl sheds tears, after watching a show.
累觉不爱: short for "很,感自己会再了"; Tired, feel like won't love anyone any more.
细思恐极: short for "仔考)想想,觉得怖至"; Thinking it over, feel horrified to the extreme.

Due to the four-character nature, these words are deceivingly antique-like, since most traditional idioms passed down from history are made up of four characters. But once you know what these new words mean, the simplicity and shallowness of the neo-acronyms, the smack of adolescence, take over. Youngsters don't care how shallow they are. They save typing, especially on smart phones, and are cute, as they themselves are.

Contact me by email or form
To my English for Chinese Page