Quote of the Week: “Ma de” in China

Quote of the Week: “Ma de” in China

Ma de in China: “f**k” in China

Cropped photos of Taiwanese prune beverage company 阿妈的酸梅汤 (Āmāde suānmeítāng) storefronts have been a hit on web forums. (Tiexue)

Cropped photos of Taiwanese prune beverage company 阿妈的酸梅汤 (Āmāde suānmeítāng) storefronts have been a hit on web forums. (Tiexue)

妈的 (māde) is short for 他妈的 (tāmāde)Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature, once honored the phrase as China’s “national swearword” [zh]. Literally meaning “his mother’s,” The term is a versatile expletive roughly equivalent to “damn” or “fuck” in English. Sinosplice provides a detailed explanation of the term’s proper usage.

The pinyin used to transliterate the abbreviation closely resembles the first word on the English-language country of origin label so globally ubiquitous in the years that followed China’s economic reform.

Netizens write “Ma de in China” to express disgust at something the Chinese government has done. For example, someone may post a comment on their microblog that a certain website has been blocked, and someone will respond in the comment section, “Ma de in China!” Or someone might sarcastically say that the World Expo was “Ma de in China!”

grass-mud horseWhich words define the Chinese Internet? Our eBook includes 71 classic turns of phrase. Now available from KindleiTunes, and Google Play.

The  comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around  and political correctness.

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