Chinese Online Slangs: 10 Chinese ‘Tribes’ & ‘Clans’ to Know
Online slang has been an important part of Chinese online culture ever since the first message boards were launched, and is ubiquitous and ever-changing on popular social media platforms such as Weibo or Wechat. A major part of this online slang culture is the categorization of people into ‘tribes’ or ‘clans’ (族); classifying those (urban) young Chinese people who share certain traits.
Although many of these terms are often ironic and generalized, to a large extent, they also represent a bigger trend in China’s transforming society and digital culture.
1. 低头族 (Dītóuzú): “The Bowed Head Clan” This word is comparable to the English term of ‘phubber’; which is a combination of “phone” and “snubber”, meaning people who lower their heads to look at their smartphones. There is also a word called “Thumb Tribe” (拇指族), which also refers to people whose thumbs are constantly moving on their smartphone screen. Dītóuzú literally means ‘lower-head-clan’; they use their phone for almost everything, at every moment. They always bow their heads to look at their phone.
For the dītóuzú, it seems that the smartphone fulfills their every need, including entertainment, surfing internet, updating their social media and communicating with people, ordering food, shopping, etc. But when the smartphone addiction becomes serious, they get mental and physical problems. It makes their life hard. On Weibo, this word was especially used in 2017 when a Chinese mother was watching her phone in the swimming pool while her 4-year-old son was drowning in the pool just meters away from her.
2. 月光族 (Yuèguāngzú): “The Moonlight Clan” The Yuèguāngzú is the “moonlight clan.” It is meant to categorize the groups of people who live from paycheck to paycheck. Most of them are young Chinese people, who spend all of their salary before their next payday – although they don’t have any savings in their bank account. For some of them, their salary just covers their basic living expenses, such as rent, food, transportation and some social occasions. But there are also those who might have a much higher income, but still live day by day, without any serious plans for their life or future. They like to spend money whenever they want, in any way they want. They also exhaust their earnings before their next salary day.
3. 酷抠族 (Kùkōuzú): “The Cool Carl” As nicely explained in Shenzhen Daily or by China Daily, Kùkōuzú refers to those people who live a simple life, and while faced with inflation and high housing prices, try to spend as little as possible. “Kù” (酷) is the Chinese transliteration of the English word “cool,” “kōu” (抠) is short for kōumén (抠门) which
means “stingy.” Normally those who lead a “stingy life” are not considered “cool.” In today’s China, however, where inflation and high housing prices make life difficult for the middle class, many people think that people who live a simple live can also be “cool.”
4. 啃老族 (Kěnlǎozú): “The Leech Tribe” Image via 浙江在线健康网 The kěnlǎozú is a group of people who are currently not engaged in employment, education or training. Their daily life totally depends on their parents or other older generations. They are often fresh graduates. Some graduates find it so difficult to find a job, and get so frustrated that they give up looking for a job and stay at home with their parents. Their parents then have to cover all of their expenses and feed them, treating them as if they’re still a child.
5. 恨嫁族 (Hènjiàzú): “The Hate-to-get-married Tribe” If we literally translate Hènjiàzú, it would mean “hate getting married tribe.” But is this truly what’s meant with this term in present-day China? The term Hènjià (恨嫁) is originally from Guangdong local language. It refers to young women who have huge expectations for their future marriage. They often hope to get married as soon as they reach the legal age of marriage. But it usually turns out that the reality is very different from their dreams.
Now, this term has come to indicate those girls who dream about a marriage that will change their life for the better. Instead of making a career for themselves, they are aiming to look for a husband with a high income. For them, getting married with a money-making man is a first priority. This kind of women was criticized by education businessman Yu Minhong recently, who stated that women’s standards for men are leading to a “degeneration of the country.”
6. 闪婚族 (Shǎnhūnzú): “The Flash Marriage Group” The Shǎnhūnzú refers to people who have only known each other a short time and get married straight away, as quick as a lightning bolt (闪电). According to Baidu, it is a sign of the “fast food love” era. Although a Flash Marriage can happen because of extreme infatuation, there are also other reasons for a quick marriage; some people are simply in a hurry to get rid of the pressure from their parents to get married.
7. 愤怒青年 (Fènnù Qīngnián): “The Angry Youth” “Angry Youth” or “The Delinquent” is a 1973 Hong Kong movie. Fènqīng (愤青) is an abbreviation for Fènnù Qīngnián (愤怒青年), which literally translates as the “angry young.” It mainly refers to Chinese youth who display a high level of Chinese nationalism.
This term first appeared in Hong Kong in the 1970s, referring to those young people who were not satisfied with Chinese society, and sought reform. It has now evolved into a term used predominantly in Chinese Internet slang. Nowadays, it refers to a group of young people who have strong or sharp opinion on society and politics. Most of them are not satisfied with what is happening now and want to make changes. They like to use internet to publish their ideas and initiate online battles with people who have different opinions. They seem to care for their country and society very much, and will give their opinions on various public affairs. Their opinions will sometimes influence the public debate.
8. 标题党 (Biāotídǎng): “The Clickbait Club” Biāotídǎng (标题党) translates as the “clickbait club.” It refers to sensationalist online writers who want to have more readers or followers, and therefore use exaggerated or hot words for their titles to attract more readership. Because online readers are curious about what is going on after seeing the “attractive” title, they continue to read the text or click the link. In most cases, there is no consistency between the content and the title. Over the past year, various Chinese state media have warned against the use of clickbait titles, labeling it as “vulgar content.”
9. 健盘侠 (Jiànpánxiá): “The Keyboard Warriors” Jiànpánxiá (健盘侠) means ‘keyboard warrior’: a group of people that is very active and often aggressive within the online comment sections. They especially like to comment below the hot Weibo topics. They are ‘big fighters’ in the cyber world when it comes to their words and opinions, but they would never actually dare to do the things they say. In their real life, ‘keyboard warriors’ are very ordinary people and are actually afraid of many things. But when they are back online, they are like the warriors in the Gongfu world. They use words as their weapons and are ‘social justice warriors.’
They often ‘troll’ other Weiboers or social media users. By doing so, they get a lot of online attention which satisfies their ego, as they are unsuccesful in getting the attention they need in their offline life.
10. 嘻哈族 (Xīhāzú): “The Hip Hop Clan” Image via Sohu.com The Xīhāzú refers to a subculture or group of young Chinese who are fan of hip hop and African-American culture influence lifestyle. “Xīhā” (嘻哈) is the Chinese translation for ‘hiphop.’ The term has been around for years. But especially over the past year, hip hop has seen a comeback in
China with popular shows as the Rap of China becoming major hits.
Source: What’s on Weibo