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“I’m So Qiou” – The New Chinese ‘Character of the Year’ is ‘Dirt-Poor & Ugly’

If there is one single word for being ‘dirt-poor’ and ‘ugly’ it would be ‘qiou’ – a character many self-mocking young Chinese say they identify with.

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A new (unofficially) elected ‘character of the year’ of 2018 is qiou, a creative combination of ‘dirt-poor’ and ‘ugly.’ Many self-mocking netizens identify with the new online word.

A new Chinese character, created by netizens, has become all the rage on social media this week.

The character is a combination of two characters, namely ‘穷’ (qióng) and ‘丑’ (chǒu). The first (穷) literally means ‘poor,’ whereas the second (丑) is used to describe something ugly.

The pinyin of this new character would be ‘qiou‘, which mixes qióng and chǒu. Unsurprisingly, the meaning of the new character is something like being ‘poor-ugly.’

Actually, there is a third character hiding among those strokes: ‘土’ (tǔ), which means earth, soil or dust. So the added meaning of the newly created character would not just be poor and ugly, but dirt-poor and ugly.

In a time of staggering house prices and unrealistic beauty ideals, ‘qiou’ is a character that “suits our time,” according to many on Weibo, who say the character ‘describes their current situation.’

“The time of our youth was a happy one,” one netizen poetically states: “Because it was not yet clear to us at the time, how poor and ugly we were.”

The character became all the rage when it was dubbed “the character of 2018” (“2018年度汉字”) by Chinese media outlet Modern Express (现代快报), selected by netizens.

The word has become popular among self-mocking young social media users, who come out saying: “I’m qiou [我qiou].”

According to some, the word should be pronounced in the third tone. They identify so much with the word, that the word for “I” (‘wǒ’), which is also in the third tone, is also somehow included in ‘qiou’ by making it a third tone pronunciation.

Some Weibo users share the state of their Wechat wallet online, only adding: “I’m so qiou.”

It is not the first time that new words or characters are being made up on Chinese social media or in popular culture. Online language is changing constantly, with new creative words, expressions, and characters being added to the online slanguage all the time (also see these popular terms).

In 2015, one new character and word that entered the online language sphere was duang, a term that became popular after Jackie Chan used it in a shampoo commercial in 2004 and a creative netizen made a remix of it 11 years later. Despite the fact that was somewhat unclear what ‘duang’ meant (it was more of a feeling, perhaps), the word became an absolute hype.

As for ‘qiou’ – the word cannot be typed out in Chinese characters, nor is there any indication it will ever be included in an official Chinese dictionary. But that’s no problem for many: “This is the first new character I’ve come across I do not need to look up, because I could understand its meaning straight away.”

By Crystal Fan and Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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China Digital

WeChat’s New Emoji Are Here (Including a Watermelon-Eating and Doge One)

WeChat’s new emoji are based on popular memes.

Manya Koetse

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On January 14, Tencent’s Wechat introduced new emoji to its existing emoji set. The new emoji include, among others, a watermelon-eating emoji and a smiling Shiba Inu.

On Weibo, the new emoji have become a topic of discussion under the hashtags “WeChat’s New Emoji” (#微信上线新表情#), “WeChat’s Watermelon Eating Emoji” (#微信上线吃瓜表情#), and “WeChat’s Dog Emoji” (#微信上线狗头表情#).

Different from the Unicode emoji (see Emojipedia), WeChat and Weibo have their own sets of emoji, although there is overlap.

The reason why especially the watermelon-eating and dog emoji are being discussed on social media, is because these emoji are based on popular internet memes.

“Eating watermelon” (吃瓜 chī guā) is an online expression that comes from “watermelon-eating masses” (吃瓜群众 chī guā qúnzhòng), which describes a common mentality of Internet users who have no idea what is actually going on but are still commenting or following online stories for their enjoyment – perhaps comparable to the “popcorn memes” that are ubiquitous on Western social media platforms.

The smiling dog has been around since 2013 and is known as the doge meme, based on a photo of a Shiba inu. The meme was originally spread on social media platforms such as Reddit, but then also became hugely popular in China, where it became a symbol of sarcasm (also read this Abacus article on this topic).

Other new emoji are the “wow” emoji, and others to express “ok,” “add oil,” “emm,” “oh!”

There’s also a “shehui shehui” (社会社会, lit. “society society”) emoji, which also comes from online culture and is a way among friends to (self-mockingly) talk about being ‘gangsters,’ ‘brothers.’ or ‘scoundrels.’

As the new emoji are still in their testing phase, not all WeChat users can use the new emoji yet, so you might have to wait a bit before being able to try them out.

By Manya Koetse, with thanks to @caaatchina
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China Memes & Viral

Grandma’s ‘Frigging’ Legs: Chinese Man Detained for Cussing on WeChat after Parking Fine

Using “Grandma’s Legs” (nǎinai de tuǐ) was apparently enough to detain him.

Manya Koetse

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Many discussions on Weibo this weekend over a guy from Anhui being detained over a WeChat Moments post, in which he complained about getting a parking ticket. He used the expression ‘grandma’s legs’ (奶奶的腿) to do so, generally considered a ‘gentle’ swearing word. Weibo commenters are expressing their concern: if such a common cuss could get one trouble, virtually anything could.

A Chinese man from Bozhou city was recently arrested for scolding the police on his WeChat ‘Moments,’ according to an online report by the Suzhou Police department.

On January 10, the police account reported that the man was fined by local traffic police for illegal parking, although he refused to acknowledge he was in the wrong.

After receiving the parking ticket, the man supposedly “publicly scolded” the police via WeChat Moments (朋友圈) (a basic feature of Chinese messaging app Wechat that allows users to upload texts and images, similar to the Facebook timeline or Instagram feed).

Screenshots shared on social media show the WeChat post in question, which contained a picture of the parking fine and one sentence saying: “F*ck, I only parked for ten minutes to pick up [my] kid and it’s a hundred!”

The swearing word used here by the man from Bozhou is “nǎinai gè tuǐ” (奶奶个腿, 奶奶的腿), which literally means “grandma’s legs,” but could be translated as a common swearword such as “f*ck,” “motherf*cker,” etc.

One might also argue that “Grandma’s legs” is actually much less vulgar than the aforementioned cuss words, and that it technically is not even considered a swear word, as it is more comparable to the English ‘friggin hell’ or other gentle cussing expressions.

One day after complaining about the parking fine on Wechat, the man from Bozhou was reportedly summoned to the local police station and was detained at the spot for “creating a bad influence” (“造成了恶劣的影响”).

The Suzhou Police Weibo post on this matter gained traction on Chinese social media on Friday. But after it was read 500,000 times within just an hour, the post was deleted again.

Both the story and its online disappearance caused some consternation on Weibo over the weekend. Many people were wondering why and if common cussing is enough legal ground to detain someone, and why the Suzhou police first posted this news and then removed it again.*

 

“If even such a small complaint is enough to get arrested, Wechat Moments will soon turn into the ‘Chinese Dream.'”

 

The idea that one could get arrested for using such a gentle swearing word as ‘Grandma’s legs’ to complain about the police on WeChat is concerning to many commenters, who suggest that the police team in Bozhou was abusing its power and overreacted to the social media post.

“If even such a small complaint is enough to get arrested, Wechat Moments will soon turn into the ‘Chinese Dream,'” one Weibo user wrote.

“Saying ‘Grandma’s legs’ is considered swearing?! My god, this is terrifying!”, others wrote.

Not long after the Suzhou police reported this matter (and then deleted its post again), Phoenix News also posted about the issue, asking Weibo netizens whether or not “#GrandmasLegs” (#奶奶的腿#) could be considered swearing or is more innocent than that.

The majority of people responding to Phoenix News do not see ‘Grandma’s legs’ as a real curse word but as a mocking expression.

“But am I even allowed to express my opinion on this?”, multiple people write: “Won’t you arrest me for doing so?”

Although this particular Bozhou arrest is an unusual case, it is much less unusual for people to be detained for swearing and/or insulting people on social media.

In 2017, a man from Taizhou, Jiangsu, was detained for nine days for insulting a member of China’s civil police on Weibo.

Last year, a taxi driver was detained for making a cruel joke on QQ about the Yueqing victim of the Didi murder.

Update: On Monday afternoon, the Bozhou police department responded to the matter via social media, stating the case is currently under investigation.

By Manya Koetse, with thanks to @sanverde
Follow @whatsonweibo

For more information about the Police Law and things China Law, we recommend you follow @chinalawtranslate on Twitter and check out Chinalawtranslate.com.

*Bozhou and Suzhou are not near to each other; Bozhou is located in Anhui Province, while Suzhou is in China’s Jiangsu Province. It is not known why the Suzhou Police department first picked up this story.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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