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Found in translation episode 15

ShanghaiCityGirl May 21.2015 10:18
Tags: Language & Culture Category:My Blogs

During my early education times, despite my ‘nerd’ accolade from my classmates, my pastimes were no different from any other teenage girl growing up in the 90s. That included reading the 90's classic ‘BravoGIRL’, exchanging the posters you could find inside, and of course discovering ‘the truth’ about myself through the weekly ‘personality tests’ inside each issue. My best friend and I would spend hours at the  bus stop on our way back home, feverishly answering the test questions, dying to know ‘Which Spice girl you are’ or ‘Which one of the Backstreet boys member would be a perfect boyfriend for you’. Thanks to those broad reads, combined with my methodology classes at university, I feel that I am eligible to create a one-question  test to help you find out a new ‘truth’ about yourself: ”Which one of the 3 ‘made – in – China’ attitudes do you have?”.Here it comes:

It's Monday morning, not long after Halloween. Your colleague is working with his/her costume still on. Do you....

a) Scold him/her, saying’ Pffff, you are SO unprofessional! Where do you think you are!? I just can’t f…ing believe it?!


b) Come over , but not too close though, to check it out and murmur under your nose ’Hmm, that’s interesting’ with a smirk on your face,  and quickly run back to your desk before anyone notices your slightest interest.


c) Ask your colleague if you can wear the costume after lunch and which Taobao shop sells it?


If you answered A, then you can consider yourself 高冷 - gāo lěng .  高  gāo means ‘high’ and here is a part of a Chinese word ’高贵 gāo guì – noble. 冷lěng means ‘cold’ and here is part of the Chinese expression 冷艳 - lěng yàn – which translates into ‘cool elegant and magnificent’. So if a Chinese person tells you ’Oh, you are a total ‘gāo lěng’ – it means you come off to them as a ‘cold diva’( both male or female) always looking down on others and sniffing blatantly with disapproval whenever they don’t fulfill your tall orders.


If you went for answer B, then you represent the 闷 骚  mēn sāo  -    闷 mēn means ‘cover tightly’ or ‘shut indoors’,  and  骚  sāo – according to my trusted sources ( my Chinese colleague and precious students ) stands for ‘sexy and wild’. Other meanings are the quite related ‘rumpus, coquettish, flirty’.  The 闷 骚  mēn sāo  type is more than eager to do crazy things, but they ‘shut it indoors’ and don’t really want others to realize their wild self. They choose to hide in sedate ‘armour’.


Finally, if you choose C and you would be totally willing to roam your office in last night’s Halloween costume or you have no problem sporting, let’s say, a face kini and joining DaMas in their square dancing, then you are definitely   逗比  dòu bǐ . 逗dòu comes from the expression 逗趣 which means dòu qù – amuse,make somebody laugh ,tease’ and 比  bǐ is actually a more ’socially approved and decent’ version which sounds the same, as my colleague let me in on the secret,  the vulgar word 屄 bī – a vulgar way to describe the female sexual organ. At the beginning dòu bī carried a derogatory meaning referring to some people we would call ‘creepy’. But since 屄 got replaced by 比 ,  dòu bǐ  can be used among friends for those who, regardless of day or time, will always jeopardize their reputation for the sake of having fun.


If you ask me, I have undergone the evolution, probably because of my life’s turns and adventures, from cold gāo lěng  in my early teens, through second – guessing   mēn sāo   to  dòu bǐ , wearing blue wigs, humongous black wings and irritating my gāo lěng  colleagues with my ‘unacceaptable behavior!’ . I always blame my Polish hairstylist for setting free my inner  dòu bǐ, though , when one day he turned me from my natural,almost Asian black haired good girl into a red head and said ‘Now, THIS is the REAL you!’  And how about you? Which type describes you best?

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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!

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