Chinese language vocabulary 汉语词汇 OMG! Chinese Buzzwords! (26)

半吊子(bàn diào zi)

Senseless and tactless (in speech), mealy mouthed, dabbler, smatterer, slacker, unfinished

In ancient times, the Chinese used a string of coins as a monetary unit. One string could hold 100 to 1,000 coins depending on the period and location. Here, the Shanghai dialectic phrase translates literally as “half a string,” indicating it’s short of a set sum.

In daily conversation, this phrase is used to describe people who are deemed as dabblers or smatterers. So, you may call anyone with some skill or knowledge but not yet a professional or expert a 半吊子(ban diao zi).

The term also describes anyone who’s a slacker or who does not see a job through.

When the phrase is used to describe things or work, it means half-done or unfinished. A synonym of the phrase in this sense is 半勿郎当(ban wu lang dang). For instance, you may hear a local complaining: “The work is still 半勿郎当(ban fo lang dang), but the workers have all gone home.”

捏鼻子做梦(niē bí zi zuò mèng)

Daydream, indulge in a fantasy

Pinching someone’s nose is known as an effective way to wake them up or interrupt their dreams. This Shanghai phrase means the opposite and translates literally as “having a dream with your nose pinched.” Since this is impossible, the phrase is used to mean “daydreaming” or “indulging in a fantasy.”

So, if a short, fat boy says that he will grow as tall as the local basketball legend Yao Ming (2.29m) someday, his peers may tell him: “You are 捏鼻子做梦(nye bi do zu mang) (or dreaming with you nose pinched).”

媚皮族(mèi pí zú)
Some parents in their 50s and 60s begin to take to new things and new technology, hiking and buying luxury commodities as they have both time and money after their children grow up and move out. The Chinese expression is a transliteration from Mappie, a coinage from mature, affluent, pioneering (Map). The word is believed to have originated in Sweden.

鸳鸯名片(yuān yang míng piàn)
love-birds name card
A kind of name card that carries the name and title of an official on one side and the name of his or her spouse on the other. It is designed for the person whose name is on the flip side to seek favor from snobbish people. Chinese couples are also traditionally referred to as 鸳鸯, or Mandarin ducks.  

书探(shū tàn)
best-seller scout
Those people with a sharp eye for identifying potential best-sellers among the huge number of literary works posted online who then recommend them to publishing houses.

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