Phrase of the Week: Have Everything But Daddy

Phrase of the Week: Have Everything But Daddy

五行缺爹 (wǔ xíng què diē): have everything but daddy
五行缺爹To slavishly follow a person or thing; to overcompensate for a person or thing lacking in one’s life. A play on the idiom “have all five elements but earth” (五行缺土 wǔxíng qūe tǔ), describing the inauspicious state facing someone born without earth in his/her astrological sign, who must make up the difference by incorporating “earth” into his/her life in other ways.

Netizens coined this term soon after became president of China and secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party as a response to official use of a colloquial term of endearment for the leader. In an effort to bring Xi closer to the people, state media often call him “Daddy Xi” (习大大 Xí Dàda). “Daddy” (dada) comes from the Shaanxi dialect of Mandarin. Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was born in Shaanxi, so “daddy” is a nod to this heritage. The same term can also mean “uncle,” but either way connotes familiarity and warmth. When ordinary citizens give Xi a sycophantic reception, netizens will joke that these devotees ”have everything but daddy.”

Example: In celebration of China’s 30th Teachers’ Day in September 2014, Xi Jinping visited Beijing Normal University. State media focused on the rockstar reception Xi enjoyed, when 500 students and teachers gathered to cheer. China Youth Daily reported students shouted slogans like “The Secretary-General has worked hard for us!” (总书记辛苦了!). One teacher said Xi’s reception was like a “superstar concert.”

On September 10, 2014, Weibo user AKTulip responded sarcastically to the rockstar treatment of President Xi, “If you don’t know what ‘daddy’ means, look it up on Baidu. Shouting in the streets like this, do you have everything but daddy?” (方言里”大大”什么意思不懂可以去百度,这样满街乱叫,你们是五行缺爹吗?)

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Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out our new eBook, Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang! Available for $2.99 in the KindleGoogle Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.

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 censorship and political correctness.

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