1. Primordial power
“Primordial” is a term borrowed to describe the ancient times and originally means to be in chaos, or of barbaric or ignorant in nature. It is said that at the beginning of time, there once was a great flood that nearly destroyed the entire world and laid waste to civilization. “Primordial power” refers to the time when the heavens were opened that was enough to destroy the natural power of the earth. The phrase “primordial power” frequently emerged during the 2015 airing of the popular drama about supernatural beings, “Huaqiangu,” where the term was used to denote a great supernatural deity. During the 2016 Rio Olympics at the 100-meter backstroke semifinals, China’s Fu Yuanhui advanced to the final round. After winning, she was famously noted saying in an interview: “I’ve already exhausted my primordial power.” Becoming famous overnight and “primordial power” are frequently used to describe a boundless energy.
2. Watermelon-eating spectators
In real life, people often eat melon seeds while listening to others chat. Likewise, on internet forums, people engage in discussion over various topics. There are always a group of people posting and responding to threads or voicing their opinions or even engaging in irrelevant discourse. Those who only read the discussions and don’t contribute to the thread are called “eating melon seeds.” In order to input this phrase quicker, the shorthand term, “eating melons” is often used. “Spectators,” or “the masses” refers to ordinary people, internet users, who just read forums and don’t write comments and are called “watermelon-eating spectators.” The usage of the term has since expanded to include topics that are not understood or to people—not necessarily limited to users on internet forums—who are inclined to only keep quiet and spectate rather than add their voice to the discussion.
3. Artisan spirit
“Artisan Spirit” refers to the precision and dedication of a craftsman to his work. Artisans pursue perfection and pay attention to detail, and they always strive to perfect and refine their work. In the “Government Work Report” on February 5, 2016, Premier Li Keqian used term “artisan spirit” to encourage the development of customization and flexibility to foster a greater consciousness for striving towards higher quality production. As the term quickly gained popularity, it became a buzzword in the manufacturing industry. Shortly after, the term became widely used not only in the manufacturing industry but gained popularity in many other industries as well. With the expanding usage of the phrase encompassing various industries, “artisan spirit” has become widely accepted to describe anyone who possesses a “consciousness striving for high quality and perfection” kind of mentality.
4. A small goal
The current popular term, “small goals” came about from Wanda Group’s CEO, Wang Jianlin. In the popular TV show called “A Date with Lu Yu” Wang talked about how “many young people want to become the richest person” and went on to explain how, “wanting to become the richest person in the world is a correct mindset to approach life, but the best thing to do is first establish a small goal that you can achieve, like earning a hundred million (RMB). To the “richest man in the world,” 100 million is really just a “small goal.” Wang’s words were indeed appropriate. From the common person’s point of view, “one hundred million” is an “astronomical figure” bordering near impossible; netizens consequently complain: This small goal is indeed small” (sarcasm)…“small goal” immediately went viral. The idea is ironically the opposite of its meaning, referring to the difficulty for an ordinary person to achieve a “large goal,” and carries implications of satire and mockery.
5. A single sharp word just XX
Chinese has always had this saying, “a single sharp word in a conversation” which means a saying that was not opportunistic. This saying thereby gave rise to “fallout from a single word.” Now the popular “a single sharp word just XX” has to do with the 2015 year-end e-sports competition. The competition sponsor’s attitude was extremely careless and sparked intense dissatisfaction among viewers. Some took to the internet to express their anger by writing posts on Baidu forums that contained vulgar, which were eventually censored. Internet streams which contain vulgar content are called “driving a car”. People then commented that: “young people, in a single wrong word just drive a car (or stream online).” “A single sharp word just XX,” has risen to popularity across the internet. Along with its expanding usage, “a single sharp word in a conversation” and whatever immediately follows, XX, has no semantic or logical connection. Now it is merely used to express an idea of “sudden,” “impulsive” or “apt to happen.” such phrases like “in a single word the teacher praises the student.” Or, “in a single word our work unit issues a bonus,” “investing in real estate has suddenly earned a boat load of money,” or, “the stock market in one sharp word has suddenly fallen” and so on.
6. The friendship has capsized
“The small friend-ship has capsized,” is referring to the weakness in relationship between two people, whereby at any time the relationship could fall apart. On March 31, 2016 an artist named “Nan Dongni” posted a cartoon titled “the friendship fall-out” which detailed two cute penguins as friends sitting in a small boat. But because one of them was a little overweight, the boat flipped over. This cartoon became highly sought after, with other netizens editing the caption with different text and gave rise to a competition of “capsizing boat” meme making. Some examples included, “do you want to eat Chongqing hot pot? I don’t eat spicy food. Our small friendship is sunk! Later, the “friendship is sunk” part grew to include any ‘mishap’ such as “the oil price ship has capsized” or “the small marriage ship has capsized” or “the student-teacher relationship has capsized” and so on. Some people speculate that the “small friend ship” comes from the English word, friendship, where the ‘ship’ part is implying the image of a small boat and is understood to be the friend-ship. A well-known line in the American drama “Friends” is quoted saying: “what’s the one kind of boat they can never, ever sink? A Friendship.
7. Supply side
On September 10, 2015, at the eleventh meeting of leading groups at Central Finance and Economics, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed “structural supply side reform”: “While moderately expanding aggregate demand, we ought to increase supply side reform by boosting quality and efficiency of supply systems and enhancing sustainable economic growth.” “Supply” and “demand” in comparison are like two sides of a coin. The “supply side” is the “provider.” China in the 21st Century has entered into a “new normal state,” where solely relying on the “demand side” for growth makes it difficult to realize steady growth; there must be powerful reform on the “supply side.” “Supply side” reform indicates a comprehensive and profound direction and is already developing in many sectors, making people eager to see the prospects of the reform.
8. Manspreading; “The Ge You slouch”
On July 25th 2016, a sticker of someone “manspreading” started appearing online. The picture was originally from a famous family TV show “I Love My Home” features actor Ge You playing the role as “Er Hunzi” where he goes to freeload at someone else’s home and is seen slouching on the sofa, in a “witty and humorous manner.” Along with the sticker of him going viral, netizens call this lazy slouching position the “Ge You Slouch.” Some people also say that with the increasing tempo of life in this current day and age, stress and pressures of life are growing larger. People’s hearts are accumulating more ‘negative emotions,’ whereas the “decadent” manner of “Ge You slouching” and catering to people’s venting, reduces anxiety and pressure. This description of the “Ge You slouch” is exactly the psychological background of the popular word.
The word for “scheme” in Chinese comes from a word that originally was used to describe a routine set of martial arts movements, such as the Shaolin method; the is also used to describe a systematic technology, pattern or methodology, such as reforming a new pattern. 2016 gave this word a new meaning, where the ‘systematic’ part does not have the meaning of a ‘system’ but instead refers to a ‘trap/scheme’ or ‘old ways’. “Scheme” generally refers to a well-organized or elaborate way of speaking or doing something that seeks to mislead someone, even to the point deception or trapping. For example, “the cheater’s threatening scheme uses the fear in one’s heart, allowing it to be manipulated.” Sometimes it can refer to one’s old habits or conventional means or methods to handle a particular matter, such as: “Everyone knows about this reporter’s interviewing scheme.”
10. Feeling blue; “Hard to bear, want to cry.”
“Hard to bear, want to cry” is a homonym in Chinese. In October 2016, a guy from Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi province, made a video about his recent breakup in which he said: “It’s hard to bear and I want to cry. Today was supposed to be happy, so why do you speak like this? It’s hard to bear, want to cry.” Because of the thick accent people from this area have when speaking, his words sounded like “thin blue mushroom” in Mandarin. This homophone has the sense of ridicule and a feeling of imagery and was immediately adopted by young people who used it widely in videos on Weibo and WeChat public accounts. Some university dining halls also followed the meme by putting out fried “thin blue mushroom” (a dish combining broccoli, lean meat, and mushrooms). Soon after, some people rushed to set up an industry company in the name of “blue thin mushroom” to cater towards young people and their expression of a gaming mentality.