I’ve had a few requests recently to properly codify the Chinglish language. So I’m setting up a new page on my blog for key Chinglish terms, phrases, and grammar as a reference for aspiring Chinglish speakers.
Here’s some basic ground rules:
1) Use the Chinese verb when it is two-characters long (helps when they are not the same sound in two different tones, to avoid confusion) and conjugate them with English or other Romance language conjugation rules.
EX: I was 跑步ing the other day and got hit by a 3-wheel trolley.
跑步ing = running Pronunciation: (PaoBu-ing)
2) Sometimes Chinese words that are just cool can be verbified bc I said so. (Also because they can be a verb equivalent if translated directly into English but aren’t functionally verbs in Chinese)
EX: I 关系ed the heck out of that conference.
关系ed = networked (but only sorta because 关系 means so much more than that) Pronunciation: (GuanXi-ed)
3) Sometimes you can use an English verb and conjugate it in Chinese, which is difficult because Chinese doesn’t actually have conjugations in a formal sense, or at least my understanding of Chinese grammar isn’t good enough to know what is a conjugation and what isn’t.
EX : I DANCE了！ —>”I DANCED” Pronunciation: (Dance-le)
4) Finally sometimes there are Chinese words that just need to be verbs regardless of whether or not they are verbs because no English word can fully express their meaning.
EX: I would like to 敬-you 一倍. –> 敬 = literally means to respect someone or show respect, but in this context it means I raise a glass to you. Pronunciation: (Jing – you YiBay)
EX: Life is too 复杂. —> general meaning “complicated” although can mean more
Any word in Chinese that sounds awesome and you want to use it you do. Words with deep meaning that no amount of words in English can properly conveyed are ideal for this usage.
EX1: Aww man, this weekend has result in some bad 处s. –> meaning bad results/consequences/etc. Pronounced: “chu”
EX2: I gave him some serious 面子 the other day. —> meaning “face” which is wayyyy too complex to begin to describe properly. Pronounced: “mianzi”
EX3: I was drinking 啤酒 on the 地铁 the other day and some 公安 chased me down and 罚-ed me a hefty 飘 which you know, I don’t get cuz I thought 喝醉ing in public is 合法 here?
I was drinking beer on the subway the other day and some cops chased me down and gave me a hefty ticket which you know, I don’t get cuz I thought getting drunk in public is legal here.
ADJECTIVES n’ ADVERBS
No rules here, just feel free insert adjectives and adverbs randomly in places you deem appropriate.
EX1: Those 饺子 were seriously 好吃. —-> Those dumplings were seriously yummy.
EX2: My life is way 无聊 and 辛苦 this week, I am so 忙 I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. —> My life is way boring and bitter/hard this week, I am so busy I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.
EX3: He is super 帅. —–> He is super cute.
See Verbs section for conjugating Chinese verbs in English, or English verbs in Chinese. Other common conjugations include:
“-ism” = 主义 －－－》EX: 社会主义= socialism
“-tion” = 化 －－－》 EX: 群众化 = “mass”-tion better EX: 民主化 = democratization
“-ize” – 性 －－－》EX: 制度性 = institutionalize
Mixed-language usage EXs:
1) 社会ism or Social主义
2) 复杂tion – Complex-ation.
3) 独立ism！= Individualism!
AND then last but not least, for the advanced Chinglish user, the Golden Rule of Chinglish is: USE CHENGYU WHENEVER YOU CAN. If you got it, flaunt it. After all, those who can actually use Chengyu’s properly in any sentence structure is 凤毛麟角 and if you have the chengyu knowledge then you cannot 备而不用.