urban slang

As a colourful vocabulary used in colloquial speech, slang is known to be the language use below the level of stylistically neutral language usages. Although the stylistic difference between ‘colloquial’ and ‘literary’ exists in a large number of Chinese words and expressions, Chinese is not as rich in specific slang words and expressions as many other languages, such as English. Some examples of slang expressions popular in Beijing are: pi (nonsense), zhua po lian (fall out with somebody), ai goupi ci (get a dressing down), huo shao pigu (a matter of the utmost urgency) and cai ji bozi (making an unpleasant sound, especially singing unpleasantly). Nonetheless, the use of slang has developed noticeably in Chinese urban areas since the 1980s.
This may be attributed to a number of social changes. The social and economic reforms of the post-Mao period have given rise to a more liberal environment in which young people, especially, have greater freedom to choose their modes of informal, unconventional or emotional expression. The marketing economy, too, has brought to the great metropolises people, along with their slang, of differing social classes or circles, and from areas where different dialects are spoken, including the countryside, or from abroad. Moreover, a number of slang expressions are revivals of the slang found in older popular literature. Finally, contemporary literature and the arts have shown increasing freedom whereby writers and performers try to produce a range of expressive styles, including informality, humour and vulgarity, and consciously adopt or create slang expressions.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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