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10 North-Eastern Chinese dialect words you should know2 min read

22 October 2021 2 min read


10 North-Eastern Chinese dialect words you should know2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What’s an easy way to make your Chinese sound more authentic and current…?

….Drop a few regional dialect slang words into your conversations!

Lots of regional dialect words (方言 – fāngyán) have crossed over into mainstream use in Chinese Pǔtōnghuà.

North Eastern Chinese (东北方言 – Dōngběi fāngyán) slang words come up the most. You’ll find them in social media comments, comedy sketches and mainstream TV shows.

So, if you really want to keep your Chinese up-to-date and on-trend, impressing with how authentic your spoken Chinese really is, you should have a few North-Eastern Chinese dialect words at the ready.

Here are 10 that I have discovered – give them a try!

1. 搁 (gē) – “put”

我这个脸就搁这儿了 – allow me to put my face here

2. 贼 (Zéi) – “very” or “extremely”

我贼开心 – I was so happy

Zéi normally means “thief”, or “traitor.” But not here; it’s a bit like the word 非常 – fēicháng, “extremely”.

3. 白瞎 (báixiā) – “a waste”

白瞎我那么贵的票钱 – what a waste of money (buying expensive cinema tickets)

4. 霍霍 (huòhuò) – “pull a fast one”

老板你不能这么霍霍我 – boss, you can’t treat me like that

Huòhuò is to deceive or take advantage of somebody, similar to 占便宜

5. 埋汰 (máitai) – “dirty”, “in poor taste”

你这个梗,太埋汰了 – that joke is a bit too much

6. 老鼻子 (Lǎo bízi) – “lots of”

我爸一年挣老鼻子钱了 – my dad makes a huge amount of money each year

7. 撅腚 (Juē dìng) – “working very hard”

我们必须一边撅腚996,一边把同样撅腚996的竞争者们干死 – we must on one hand continue to graft tirelessly in 996, while at the same time out-compete others working as hard

Juē dìng is the action of working in the fields, or hard graft (撅 Juē means to stick up in the air; 腚 dìng means ‘ass’ in northern Chinese dialect).

Related: 撅着屁股 (juēzhe pìgu) – sticking your arse in the air like working in the fields; meaning bracing oneself for hard work

8. 蔫悠 niān yōu – “lost all spirit”, “hopeless”

当时就蔫了- I felt like there was no point

9. 折腾 (zhē téng) – “cause trouble”

别折腾了嘛 – keep it simple

This versatile word can mean many things, originally it mean “flip flop.” Zhē téng can also be a compliment. If you are impressed with somebody’s entrepreneurial pluck and persistence, for example, you can say:

这个人还是挺能折腾的 – this person is formidable / won’t take no for an answer / will just keep going no matter what / is going to be very successful

10. 瞎折腾 (xiā zhēteng) – “doing things that are totally meaningless and a waste of time”

一天到晚闲得慌,浪费社会资源,瞎折腾 – these people have nothing to do, they waste resources of society, what they do is completely pointless

Why not try these words out in your next Chinese conversation and see how they land?

What Northern Dialect words have I missed? Sign up to the newsletter and let me know!


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