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Found in translation episode 4

ShanghaiCityGirl Apr 22.2015 09:37 + Add your comment
Tags: Language & Culture Category:My Blogs

Before anyone says anything about my choice of topic for this episode – yes, I do realize it is about money again. Money and China, to be exact. But well, whether you like it or not, the truth is that you won’t pay your bills with love (well, maybe in some places it would be feasible, but I bet not everyone is so fond of this kind of ‘barter agreement’). Nor will you eat compassion. Plus, the power of Mao yeye ( Grandpa Mao. Check yourRMB notes if this sounds strange) is constantly growing, so it's no surprise why most Chinese buzz words revolve around this seemingly fragile thing that makes the world go around.

 Keeping with the fast economic growth of China this year, in April 2014 the phrase ‘yǒu qián rènxìng, měi qiánrènmìng’came to life. Exact translation goes like this ‘yǒu qián= have money , rènxìng =uninhibited, měiqián = don’t have money, rènmìng= be resigned to sth.

 So what exactly happened in April? Well, one Chinese tuhao, Mr.Liu, decided to buy a health care product online for ‘just’ 1760 RMB. And since whatever we do in the virtual world shall never be forgotten nor remain unnoticed, he was soon contacted by a stranger with, one might think, strong persuasive skills, because he managed to convince Mr. Liu to purchase more ‘miraculous’ health enhancing products, with a price totaling 540,000 RMB (no, no mistake here, trust me). Poor swindler, though.Turned out it wasn’t actually his distinguished scamming talent responsible for that windfall. Later on, Mr. Liu revealed that, though he did realize he got fooled when the amount reached 70,000, he ‘just wanted to see how much they could take from him’…Well, life is, after all, all about new experiences, right?!


So basically, putting all the puzzle pieces together, yǒu qián rènxìng 有钱 任性 would mean that being shamelessly rich gives you the freedom to overspend your money on any harebrained idea – whether it is challenging an online scammer, or getting a hundredboxes of yogurt just to lick off what you find on the underside of the lid and only to throw away the rest. But if you are just a humble ‘diao si,’ then let me break it to you – you have no other choice but surrender to your ‘fate’ and be ‘normal’ - měi qiánrènmìng 没钱 认命 . Well, ok, don’t get that heartbroken yet – you can still use yǒu qián rènxìng expression referring to yourself. Let’s say you go to a cheap bar and buy way too many dishes for one person. As your order arrives, and you see whole table being covered with food just for yourself, you can flash a smile to the onlookers, and say ‘yǒuqián rènxìng 有钱 任性’.It will be sarcastic, but still!

 I don’t know about you, but after almost 2.5 years in China, the needle on my WTF meter has almost snapped off: whether it is a person jogging in silk pajamas at 4 am or a pony-sized dog wearing Prada for its evening walk, I’ve seen a lot. But now, thanks to Mr. Liu, instead of that little three-letter acronym echoing in my head when I see a rainbow-colored Rolls - Royce parked in front of a shabby lane house or a pink Ferrari with a Hello Kitty decal staring at me from the hood, I can cheerfully say ‘You qian renxing, mei qian ren ming.’


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About ShanghaiCityGirl

My name is Gosia and I come from Poland. I set up my blog - Shanghai City Girl - out of my passion for writing,Chinese language and Shanghai itself.My goal is to explain Chinese slang and peculiar local culture, give tips about health and saving money in this overwhelming city!

See ShanghaiCityGirl's profile Find more interesting blogs from the eChinacities community

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