Editor’s Note: Every year, a number of new words and phrases from the Internet make it to a language’s vocabulary. Going through the most popular buzzwords and phrases used by China’s netizens reveals a virtual smorgasbord of linguistic ingenuity and also, what was most important in the last 12 months. Here’s a look at what was on the tip of the Chinese tongue in 2015:
On December 15,Yaowenjiaozi , a monthly Chinese linguistic journal, released its list of the top 10 buzzwords of 2015. These words or phrases, defining new ideas and concepts, are catchy, humorous or fashionable, and have enriched contemporary Chinese with their inclusion.
Huang Anjing, the executive editor of Yaowenjiaozi , said they picked out the 10 from over 100 items using a five-step procedure - initial selection, screening, expert review, consultation and final approval. The most salient feature of the 10 buzzwords is that a whopping seven of them come from the Internet. The remaining three are derived from Chinese leaders’ speeches.
Yaowenjiaozi was launched in January 1995 with the aim of correcting the wrong usage of Chinese language characters in the media and the works of famous writers. At the end of each year, the journal publishes a list of 10 major mistakes and another list of the top 10 words.
1. Huo De Gan
Huo de gan - a sense of gain - became a hit on the Internet after Chinese President Xi Jinping used it at the 10th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms on February 27, 2015. Xi said the best way to test if a reform has achieved its aim is to check people’s true feelings about its results.
“Giving people a sense of gain is a decisive yardstick to measure the value of any reform," he said. The phrase meant people’s happiness from sharing the fruits of national reforms and became popular in the media and among netizens.
2. Internet Plus
On March 5, 2015, Premier Li Keqiang tabled the annual Government Work Report at the opening of the Third Session of the 12th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, where he proposed introducing Internet plus - the integration of the Internet and traditional industries.
Li said Internet plus was a new mode of thinking, a new development pattern and new economic form, which would integrate mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of things with modern manufacturing. The aim was to encourage the healthy development of e-commerce, industrial networks, and Internet banking as well as getting Internet-based companies to increase their presence in the international market.
The phrase is recognized as an economic keyword of 2015, and one of the newest expressions to come up during the National People’s Congress last year.
Yanzhi, or appearance value, is a measure of beauty. The expression is used by young people to indicate whether someone is good-looking or not. A person with high or sensational yanzhi is someone who is extremely handsome or beautiful. On the other hand, a person who has low yanzhi is a plain Jane.
In 2015, baobao, meaning baby, swept the nation, becoming a Chinese pet phrase. The double-character online slang refers to oneself, especially for females and anyone trying to act cute. The popular usage was "it scares the baobao to death!" It meant "it scares me to death!" and became popular among netizens to express an exaggerated reaction.
Chuangke, or maker, refers to people who start their own businesses with innovative ideas. Premier Li Keqiang has been an advocate of entrepreneurialism and self-motivation in China, urging students to become pioneers, break down conventions and show their entrepreneurial spirit.
In the Government Work Report last year, Li said makers were coming up thick and fast and the cultural and creative industries were developing with great vitality.
With the support of the government, chuangke is becoming a kind of fad among young Chinese.
6. Naodong Dakai
Naodong dakai literally means "opening up the brain hole." Derived from Japanese anime, it means the audience themselves imagining plots outside the story. The meaning is similar to "imaginative" or "inspiring." Those who have "a large brain hole" are supposed to be imaginative, even unimaginably weird. With the release of the Chinese online mini-series A Hole in the Head in February 2015, the phrase became more and more popular in the media.
Renxing, or capricious, comes from a story about a man in China’s Jiangxi Province who was cheated by an online fraudster. Even though he realized he was being defrauded, the man continued to give his money away to the swindler. When interviewed, his response was startling. "I just want to know how much they want from me," he said.
The story drew a comment that went viral: "Only if you have money can you be capricious like that." However, the negative connotation has now faded, giving way to a somewhat neutral one. It is now used to mean "naïve" or even "brave."
8. Duoshou Dang
Duoshou dang, literally meaning hands-chopping people, refers to shoppers addicted to buying things online. Duoshou dangs are compulsive online spenders who spend a lot of time, money and energy on searching shopping websites and buying masses of things but once the frenzy is gone, always regret the extravagance.
The phrase originated from some online shopping addicts’ rueful comments that they would like to chop their hands off after an online buying spree. The word has gained currency, thanks to China’s e-commerce boom. The world’s biggest online shopping day, November 11, ended with record sales of 91.22 billion yuan ($14.33 billion) on Taobao, China’s largest online shopping platform. The number of "hands-chopping people" also reached its peak on November 11.
Wanghong, or instant web celebrities, refers to those who have a large fan following on social media.
There are many reasons for their popularity, from outstanding talent or appearance to mischievous behavior or even accidents. Instant web celebrities are the creation of the fast developing Internet, which caters to all psychologies - from the aesthetic to the ugly - in the virtual world of cyberspace.
The generation of wanghongs is not spontaneous, but carefully promoted by Internet marketers cashing in on surfers’ psychology and demand. Though instant web celebrities have a strong impact on the social media, the duration of the influence is usually short.
10. Zhuyao Kan Qizhi
Qizhi means temperament. The phrase means judging a person by his or her temperament rather than appearance. It was introduced by Chinese pop singer Wang Xinling in an online post.
In the entertainment industry, the appearance of stars is always a major consideration. As a result, stars take great pains to hide their blemishes, resorting to the marvels of today’s superb cosmetology, and even cosmetic surgery.
However, Wang chose an artless photograph of herself for her latest album cover. But despite its simplicity, netizens appreciated it, saying it reflected her natural beauty and good temperament.
Then a large number of netizens started following the trend, posting selfies on social networks to show their personal temperament. In this age of excessive focus on appearance, the popularity of "judging by temperament" has come to be regarded as something positive and meaningful.