Monday, April 12, 2010

Chinese words which contain letters?

I remember doing a ChinesePod (affiliated link) lesson about going Dutch (i.e. splitting the bill), and I was surprised to find out that the Mandarin word for this is "AA zhì" (AA制). 

Yes, honestly - the actual Mandarin word contains the letters "AA". Very odd. (You can research why this is, and what the AA stands for, if you want ... there are plenty of different opinions out there.)

So I got to wondering ... what other Mandarin words contain English letters?  (And I'm not referring to 'cheats' like the word 'DVD'.)  So I compiled a list of some words, but would really appreciate any additional suggestions you might have. So leave us a comment with others that you know ...

   AA zhì (AA制):  going Dutch / splitting the bill
   A piàn (A片):  adult movie  / porn film
   B chāo (B超 - or 'B型超声' in full):  type-B ultrasound
   BP jī (BP 机):  beeper ​
   kǎ​lā OK (卡拉 OK):  karaoke 
   M (M): menstruation (as in: 你有M吗?)
   niú​ B (​牛B):  awesome  / cocky
   N xíng​ bàn​dǎo​tǐ​ (N型半导体):  N-type semiconductor
   N zhǒng​ (N种):  n-type (anyone know what this one is?)
   T xù (T恤):  t-shirt
   X guāng (X光):  X-ray

FYI creating this list wasn't as easy as ABC. i.e. It took some effort. But it's now A-OK (AFAIK). So TTFN.  (And of course I'll BRB.)  OK?


  1. Here is some more!
    Most are however shortened versions mainly used as internet slang.

  2. Today, one of my friend's msn profile name says : 我徘徊在牛A和牛C之间 !

    Can you figure out what he was implying?



  3. Hey Niel - thanks for the quick reply. That's a very interesting list - I have now bookmarked it.

    I agree that most of the list covers abbreviations, rather than real Mandarin words which contain letters from the Roman alphabet - but interesting to see how the two systems integrate!

  4. Hey Liu - that's classic! Bit by bit I'm getting this Chinese humour thing. (Next week I'll try xiangsheng :-)

  5. ​牛B doesn't really count, since it's just a short form for 牛逼. On the other hand, people usually say "KTV" for 卡拉OK. In the same line, there's MV (music video).
    The one that mustn't be missed, even though it's actually a name is 哆啦A梦 - the all-beloved Doraemon :)

  6. Here are the remaining entries from CEDICT:

    傻B [sha3 bi1] /stupid cunt (vulgar)/also written 傻逼[sha3 bi1]/
    动L [dong4 L] /flowing/flexible/lively (internet slang)/
    装B [zhuang1 bi1] /pretentious bastard (vulgar)/person who pretends to be bigger or richer than they are (vulgar)/
    阿Q [A1 Q] /Ah Q, antihero of Lu Xun's influential 1921 novella The true story of Ah Q 阿Q正传[A1 Q zheng4 chuan2]/
    阿Q正传 [A1 Q zheng4 zhuan4] /The true story of Ah Q, influential 1921 novella by Lu Xun 鲁迅[Lu3 Xun4]/
    A咖 [A ka1] /class "A"/top grade/
    C盘 [C pan2] /C drive or default startup drive (computing)/
    DNA鉴定 [D N A jian4 ding4] /DNA test/DNA testing/
    G点 [G dian3] /Gräfenberg Spot/G-Spot/
    K仔 [K zai3] /ketamine (slang)/
    K书 [K shu1] /to cram (Taiwan, from Taiwanese khè su 齧書, lit. to gnaw a book)/to study/
    K粉 [K fen3] /ketamine (slang)/
    U形转弯 [U xing2 zhuan3 wan1] /U-turn/
    U盘 [U pan2] /USB flash drive/
    USB手指 [U S B shou3 zhi3] /USB flash drive/
    USB记忆棒 [U S B ji4 yi4 bang4] /USB flash drive/
    V沟 [V gou1] /low neckline that reveals the cleavage/décolleté/gully/
    X战警 [X zhan4 jing3] /X-Men (comic book superhero team)/

  7. Phyrex: Thanks for the comments. The most interesting for me was 哆啦A梦, who I hadn't heard of before. I've done some research, and will certainly do some more!

    Alex: That's brilliant! I tried doing searching to extract others that I couldn't think of, but clearly your skill in extracting info from CEDICT far surpasses mine. Thanks - this will be a great reference.

  8. Here's one more:

    OK繃 for band-aids. I thought a friend was joking with me the first time I asked how to say it. I had to verify with other people before I believed him.

    And about 卡拉OK vs. KTV... At least in Taiwan, only the big 包廂-style businesses like Cashbox and Holiday call themselves KTV. If you see 卡拉OK on a sign, it's going to be a small place, usually visited by older folks, and frequently has extra "services" for the male clientele.

    卡拉OK is also generally the termed used for home karaoke, since many Taiwanese families have their own set-up.

    In either case, some Taiwanese also shorten the word to just 卡拉. The website even uses this shortened form in its name!

  9. Oh, almost forgot K歌 - a karaoke song, especially one that people like to sing. This is used in the song "K歌之王" :)

  10. Hey KTVXiaoJie. I've just been checking out your blog - that's some really fun stuff you've got there!

    Thanks for your feedback, and for the additional terms you've contributed. I was in Taipei just a few weeks ago - and I saw how much of an obsession 卡拉OK (KTV) is - so many venues, fully packed. Wow!

  11. Wow. KTVXiaoJie - that clip you've posted of Lin Yu Chun is fabulous. Thanks for sharing

  12. Hello Being the Mum - nice to hear from you over here. I hadn't actually watched that particular clip yet myself, but after your comment I did. Really good!

    I have also got some additional comments from @steven_daniels on Twitter, who provided more clarification on words with Roman letters ...
    - My favorite is 服了U, which I've even seen written as F了U!
    - 服了U = 服了你。 It's used when a person says something you have no response to. Link on nciku-->
    - N种 = lots of types. From math. There are N possibilities. One can use "N" with lots of classifiers, N次、我说了N遍,但你还是不懂.

    Thanks all for the great input. Anyone got a few more words that haven't been mentioned yet?

  13. Update: According to this article, it seems that "TV viewers may no longer be able to hear English abbreviations, like "NBA" (National Basketball Association), from mainland broadcasters. China Central Television (CCTV) and Beijing Television (BTV) confirmed to China Daily on Tuesday that they had received a notice from a related government department, asking them to avoid using certain English abbreviations in Chinese programs."

    Many of the words above are not just Anglicised abbreviations, but actual words containing Roman letters, so I'm not expecting there to be any impact here. Would be very interested to see that list ...

  14. N种 means many options. N like the variable in algebra

  15. MP三 (written as MP3 but pronounced MPsan). Also the word that comes up every time I start to type a word beginning with G in Hanping: G点 (G-spot).

  16. Thanks Dan. I thought we had pretty much covered all of them, so it's a pleasant surprise to see another two coming in!

    I think this is the first comment I've seen from you on Mandarin Segments - welcome!