Szakszemináriumi matéria, a kínai internetes nyelvhasználatból.

When the society changes, language as a sign that the society will also undergo transformation. The digital age in China is the beginning of computer-mediated communication, and recent dramatic social, economic, and political changes that have taken place in China should lead to a change in the Chinese language as well.

The computer-mediated communication (CMC) has become increasingly widespread throughout the world, thanks to the rapid development of the computer technology. In mainland China, since the Internet service started in 1994, it has been developing very quickly. As early as October 1997 there were around six hundred and twenty thousand Chinese netizens. And approximately thirty hundred thousand computers were connected with the Internet.

In January 2007 there were approximately 137 million netizens in mainland China. Around 59 million computers were connected with the Internet. And China had about 843 thousand web sites, and twenty-four-hour Internet cafés. Seemingly, there has been enormous growth of the Internet network in China over recent years. According to CNNIC latest report this January, China’s total Internet users has reached 457 million, and China internet users spend 18.3 hours per week on internet access; or, 2.6 hours per day.

Internet has various impacts on Chinese people’s lives. Just like any other internet users, the Chinese netizens also listening and downloading music, chatting, watching and downloading movies, reading news, searching for information, playing online games, and emailing. Basically, the entertainment is the most important reason for most online activities.

A social network often where language innovation takes place. Adaptations of the Chinese writing system in Internet language provide interesting evidence for the innovations within a weak-tie social network. This rapid development of Internet communication in mainland China has created huge influence on the Chinese language. The Internet not only changes existing linguistic practices, but also generates new forms of practice.

Chines Internet Language (CIL) represented by different lexical usages, unique syntactic, and even discursive features

As for the demographics of the netizens in mainland China, approximately thirty-eight percent are aged between eighteen and twenty-four, most of whom are studying either in senior high schools (31.3%) or at two- or four-year colleges (51.6%) At all, over ninety percent of netizens are below the age of 35. Therefore, Chinese netizens are actually young people.

Said to be that „the young are usually in the vanguard of most [language] changes”. Likewise, some of the CIL features used by young Chinese netizens in CMC may start to be used by people belonging to other age groups and even outside of the electronic media. The appearance and use of the CIL may represent a case of language change in progress. That means, some of the variables used by one age group, usually young people, may spread through the entire population and consequently slowly change the language.

As CIL primarily used by young and educated Chinese, it could be associated with many desirable personal identities such as being modern and being able to keep up with social and technological developments. Hence, CIL generally considered a kind of prestigious linguistic variety among young people. The emergence of such distinctive language variety has significant sociolinguistic implications for the change in Chinese language as well. In other words, educated Chinese netizens construct modern identities through the use of Internet language “not only to serve the purpose of information communication, but also, perhaps more importantly, to construct a modern identity.” A fashionable and cool identity, an interesting and entertaining identity, an unconventional and even rebellious identity.

CIL may has influence upon the linguistic behavior of those who do not have access to computer-medicated communication and/or those who do not belong to the young and educated group but wish to. That’s may also gradually spread to the domain of non-electronic communication, both spoken and written, and consequently lead to the change of the Chinese language.

That electronic language used by young Chinese netizens is usually more dynamic, vivid, and rich in creativity than non-electronic language. Generally speaking, such a vibrant variety of language is contagious; people are not very resistant to the use of such an innovative variety of language.

The following data were collected primarily from five Internet situations – online BBS’s, chat rooms, Internet literature, personal e-mails, and other posts at public web sites, such as news and advertisements. Among these sources, BBS’s (electronic bulletin boards) and Internet relay chat rooms were the major ones

The Lexical Usages

Based on the source code, the Chinese Internet lexicon may be divided into three main categories. Just as:

1.,  words solely composed of Chinese characters,
2., words that only consist of pinyin alphabets, English letters, Arabic numbers, or paralinguisticsymbols
3., words of mixed sources. Each type may then be further subcategorized.

Some researchers called it “stylized Mandarin”, because these lexical items either did not exist in Mandarin before or have totally different references in Internet language. The first category can be further divided in the following different ways:

 1., Jiajie 假借 (borrowing)

e.g., mao cat ‘modem,’ guanshui 灌水 irrigatewater ‘posting low-quality articles on BBS’s’. . These words are mostly compounds which are coined to refer to the new concepts related to the Internet;

 2., Hecheng 合成 (compounding)

e.g., dianduidian 点对点 point-face-point ‘computer to computer,’ xiezai 卸载 unload-carry ‘download’.

3., Fangni 仿拟 (analogy)

 e.g., diaoxia 钓虾 angle-shrimp ‘females chasing males’ (cf. diaoyu 钓鱼 angle-fish ‘males chasing females’), hantuo 汉托Chinese-TOEFL ‘Chinese TOEFL--HSK’ (cf. tuofu 托福 hold-happiness TOEFL)

4., Yijie 译借 (calquing)

e.g., qiate 恰特 exactly-special ‘chat,’ ku cruel ‘cool,’ bensan 笨三 stupid-three ‘Pentium III’ 菜鸟 caìniǎo ’newbie’, cai rhymes with “pie”

5., Bini 比拟 (metaphor and personification)

e.g., daxia 大虾 big-shrimp ‘Internet expert,’ konglong 恐龙 scary-dragon ‘unattractive but extremely active female’, lei,雷人 leiren 太雷人了 tai leiren le thunder – schocking – too shocking, too outrageous, lei teardrop, used to exrpess sadness

6., Yinbian 音变 (phonological fusion)

 e.g., jiangzi 醬紫 sauce-purple ‘this way’ (from zheyangzi 这样子 this-form-Suffix ‘like this’), biao watch ‘don’t’ (from buyao 不要 no-want ‘don’t), niangzi 酿紫 brew-purple ‘that way’ (from nayangzi 那样子 that-form-Particle ‘like that)

7., Shuoming 说明 (explanation)

 e.g., wangchong 网虫 net-insect ‘people addicted to the Internet,’ wangba 网吧 net-bar ‘computer site open to the public’. . These words are mostly compounds which are coined to refer to the new concepts related to the Internet;

8.,  Cisuchongdie 词素重迭 (morpheme repetition)

 e.g., piaopiao 漂漂
beautiful-beautiful ‘beautiful,’ huaihuai 坏坏 bad-bad ‘bad’, papa 怕怕 afraid-afraid ‘fearful’, etc. Words in this group are usually used by children and the youth (mostly female). They are used in Internet language to create a sense of playfulness.

9., Yinjingaizao 音近改造 (near homophonization)

e.g., banzhu 斑竹 specklebamboo ‘person in charge of a BBS topic,’ junnan 菌男 germ-male
‘unattractive guy’. In this subcategory, tones of words are played around so that a sense of humor is created;

Chinese netizens often use some dialectical varieties of Chinese in online communication, such as the use of ou 偶,‘me’, a Taiwanese usage, for wo ‘me’, and xiami 虾米 ‘what’, a southern Fujian usage, for shenme 什么 ‘what’. 国猪 guozhu literally “country’s pigs” or “national pigs’ (an insulting pun on 国足 guozu, the national football team).

 10., Jiucixinjie 旧词新解 (semantic shift)

e.g., ouxiang 偶像 idol-picture ‘a disgusting person,’ tiancai 天才 sky-material ‘a born dumb person’, danbaizhi蛋白质 egg-white-quality ‘an idiot and neurotic’, ding hold something onone’s head ‘support’, fubai 腐败 decay-failure ‘eating out or participating in recreational activities’. (It is often used to express a sense of humor or satire); konglong 恐龙 (dinosaur) scary-dragon ‘unattractive but extremely active female online’,青蛙 qingwa for an ugly guy, tu (convex), showing the middle finger, etc.

11., Xizi 析字(word decomposition)

e.g. lanjie 蓝介 blue-introduce ‘awkward’ (from ganga 尴尬 ‘awkward’), zouzhao 走召 walk-summon ‘super’ (fromchao ‘super’)

12., words that consists of pinyin alphabets, English letters

E, ICQ, cookies, and banner are in English, 668 and 886 are in Arabic numbers, and the components of :-) and ^0^ are only paralinguistic symbols. JS (‘shrewd businessmen,’ from jianshang in pinyin), E (‘electronic’), ICQ (‘I seek you.’), cookies (‘small file saved on a computer hard disk’), banner 668
(‘Let’s chat.’), 886 (‘Bye-bye.’), :-) (‘smile’), ^0^ (‘laugh out loud’)

13., words of mixed sources

 ^B and ^K both consist of a paralinguistic symbol and an English letter, b2b, b2c, f2f, and MP3 are each composed of English letters and an Arabic number, and BIG5 is a mixture of English letters, an Arabic number, and a Chinese character. ^B (‘to say good bye with tears’), ^K (‘to kiss stealthily’), b2b (‘business to business’), b2c (‘business to customer’), f2f (‘face-to-face’), and BIG5 (‘the big 5 code’)

Sentence featues

Chinese syntax is also undergoing some changes in the Internet language. Web sentences are usually relatively short and are used to express meanings in a concise and straightforward manner. It is particularly so in regard to language used in chat rooms and on BBS’s.

Web sentences also involve new usages, which are usually represented by:

1., achange in sentence word order,
2., the use of sentence-final redundant words,
3., a change in word category,
4., the use of an unusual sense of a word, and
5., the use of bound morphemes as free morphemes. The sentences in 15-16) involve a change in sentence word order. The sentences in 17-18) feature the use of semantically superfluous expressions. The sentences in 19-20) represent a change in word category. The sentence in 21) exemplifies the use of a very uncommon sense of a word. And the sentences in 22-23) are characterized with the use of usually bound morphemes as free morphemes.

In 15., the adverbial prepositional phrase zaitushuguan 在图书馆 Preposition picture-book-place ‘in the library’ was moved from before the verb phrase kanshu 看书 look-book ‘to read books’ to after it.

In 16., the adverbial time phrase mingnian 明年following-year ‘the following year’ was moved from before the verb phrase qumeiguo去美国 go-U.S. ‘to go to the U.S.’ to after it.

15., 图书馆。
I look book Preposition library
‘I was reading books in the library.’

16.,   美国 年。
I go U.S. next year
‘I am going to the U.S. the next year.’

Apparently Chinese is moving towards more an SVO language, which is different from the suggestion that the Chinese language may be experiencing a transformation from an SVO to an SOV sentence word order.

In 17.,, the expression deshuo 的说3 Auxiliary-talk ‘say’ is semantically redundant. Similarly, in 18) diao fall ‘Result’ is redundant, although it is true that sidiaole 死掉了 die-fall-Aspect ‘die’ by itself is a perfectly grammatical usage in Mandarin Chinese.

Structures of this type will be prevalent or finally transform Chinese syntax?

17.,– 去哪儿?
go where
‘— Where are you going?’
回家 说。
return home Auxiliary talk
‘— Going home.’

18., 我要 高兴 了。
I will happy die fall Particle
‘I’m extremely happy.’

In 19., the noun dian electricity ‘call’ was used a verb, meaning ‘to call’. And in 20., the proper noun CNN was used as an adjective, meaning “behaving like CNN”.

19., 有事 我。
have thing call I
‘Call me if you need anything.’

20., 做人 CNN

do people not Auxiliary too CNN

‘A person cannot be like CNN too much.’ (别太 CNN bié tài CNN, literally “don’t be too CNN,” meaning don’t lie or distort the truth)

In 21., an atypical usage of the expression feichang 非常 not-ordinary ‘very;
unusual’ in the sense of ‘unusual’ was used.

21., 她是 非常 宝贝。
she be unusual treasure
‘She is an extremely lovely girl.’

Finally, In sentence 22., the bound morpheme jubig ‘extremely’ was used as a free morpheme. Likewise, in 23., the bound morpheme chao exceed ‘super’ was used as a free morpheme as well.

22., 小王 辣。
little Wang gigantic afraid spicy
‘Little Wang is extremely afraid of spicy food.’

23., 这场 意思。
this Classifier ball game super not meaning
‘This ball game was extremely boring.’

On the one hand, CIL maintains the characteristic of a written mode. On the other, CIL is marked by an oral style on most informal occasions. The fact that CIL is partly marked by a written style has at least four reasons:

1., most people still have to use a keyboard to communicate online,
2., that the Internet is a public arena,
3., that most Chinese netizens are educated
4., that language used on China’s Internet is first and foremost Putonghua.

  • The Internet is not as fast as people desire. (The average Internet connection speed in China is only 100.9KB/s, far below the world average which is 230.4KB/s)
  • In China today Internet service is still relatively expensive. Customers are usually charged based on the amount of time that they spend online. In order to offset these limitations, when engaged in electronic communication, people frequently utilize such usages as abbreviated words, subjectless sentences, and single-word sentences.
  • Such practices provide CIL with features of a spoken style. Moreover, cyberspace is essentially a communication arena in which there is few, if any, formal censorship.
  • As a result, when interacting via the Internet, people are likely to use a spoken style, which tends to be more vivid than a written style, to voice their opinions about hot socio-cultural and political issues in China, among other things.

More significantly, these expressions are even more concise than the oral language found in daily interaction:

26.,A: ? (‘Where are you from?’)
B: 深圳, u? (‘Shenzhen. And you?’)
A: 扬州。认识你很高兴! (“Yangzhou. Good to know you!’)
B: me2! ^o^ (‘Me too!’)
A: ? (‘Are you at home now?’)
B: 单位。 (‘No. At my working unit.’)
A: M or F? (‘Are you a male or a female?’)
B: M! 我有事, 走先! 886! (‘Male. I need to take care of something. I’m
leaving now. Bye-bye!’)


Vocabulary is usually the most active component of a language, which constantly changes to accommodate the needs of speakers. The question then arises: what types of CIL lexicon is likely to stay as an integral component of the Chinese language?

Mostly, the words that must be used to refer to new Internet technologies, those that conform to the convention of the Chinese language have the highest possibilityof survival, which would include new coinages that follow the rules of Chinese word formation. This would probably cover at least two groups of CIL words:

1., some of those borrowed from foreign languages, such as zaixian 在线 at-line ‘online’, and ku cruel‘cool’
2., some of those formed by phonological fusion, e.g., biao (from 不要) watch ‘don’t’, for borrowing and phonological reduction are two active word formation processes for the Chinese language

tiezi 帖子
paste-Suffix ‘online post’ is used, and in (30) dongdong 东东 east-east ‘stuff’ is used.

昨天还 整理 网友们 帖子。(陆幼青:<<
yesterday still sort Aspect web friends Auxiliary Post
‘Yesterday I also sorted out the posts by (my) Internet friends.’

生活中,我 自己 很多 东东 无比 惊喜。
life in I for self Auxiliary many east east Conjunction extremely happy
‘In my life, I am extremely pleasantly surprised by so many things I have.’

The following passage appeared in a composition by an elementary school student, which also features the use of many CIL expressions:


(‘Yesterday evening my brother brought his unpleasant-looking girlfriend home for dinner. At the dinner table, this girl kept flattering my mother. Her behavior was so abnormal. I was really fed up with it. I only ate a few mouthfuls before I left to post messages via the caller machine.’)

Modern Chinese language, which marks the official completion of the lexical changeprompted by CMC.

The Impact of English Language

Many people in Internet communication are English literate; therefore, stylized English frequently used. There are two major subcategories. One is the transliteration of English phrases with Chinese characters. Some examples are as follows: yimeier 伊妹儿 her-sister- ‘email’, ku cruel ‘cool’, heike 黑客 black-guest ‘hacker’ fensi 粉丝 ‘fans’, boke 博客 ‘blog’, fente 分特 ‘faint’, xiu ‘show’.

Change in Word Category

As a result of the influence from the usage of CIL in CMC, the part of speech of some Chinese words may undergo changes. A potential candidate is the use of nouns as adjectives, as is illustrated by the usage of cai vegetable ‘weak’.Or the noun yangguang 阳光 sun ‘healthy and optimistic’ is used as an adjective.

这个 菜。
this Classifier person too vegetable
‘This person is too incapable.’

她是 阳光 女孩。
she be one Classifier sun girl
‘She’s a very healthy and sanguine girl.’

  • Chinese language may also undergo discourse transformation as a result of the new electronic andthe word processing medium that are used to produce the language.
  • Some CIL usages byyoung netizens in CMC may spread to other age groups and beyond the CMC modalityand consequently lead to changes in the Chinese language.
  • The CIL usages may represent language change in progress.
 Stylized initials

Individuals in cyberspace innovate their language in accordance with the nature of the Internet communication, such as the nature of written speech, the trouble of input and so on. All the adaptations of writing systems in Chinese Internet language, this category is predominant. Without the knowledge of this category, it would be difficult for one to understand Chinese Internet language. Two subcategories are identified, namely Pinyin initials (a Chinese transcription system of sounds with the Roman alphabet) and English letter initials.

Pinyin initials refer to the adoption of the first pinyin of each character in a Chinese phrase. Some examples are given below:

mm (from meimei 妹妹 ‘girls’or ‘girlfriend’), gg (from gege 哥哥 ‘boys’ or ‘boyfriend’), plmm (from piaoliang meimei 漂亮妹妹 ‘beautiful girls’);

rpwt (renpin wenti 人品问题, ‘problem of personality’. It is usually used to kid somebody. For example: A: Why can I not open this door, while others can? B: It’s your rpwt.)

fb (fubai 腐败 ‘to eat big meals’),
bt (biantai 变态 ‘abnormal’),
bs (bishi 鄙视 ‘to despise’). GFW: “Great Firewall of China,” 功夫网 gōngfu wăng,
BC (白痴 báichī “idiot”)
PP (漂漂 piāopiao)
PMP (拍马屁 paīmǎpì)

These Pinyin initials are mainly derived from popular, and in most cases humorous Chinese phrases, which are constrained by temporary factors. It is predictable that many of these initials will disappear as time elapses, but also that many others will appear.

English letter initials refer to the adoption of the first letter in an English phrase or sentence (in that sense, it may also be argued that it is code-mixing, instead of adaptations in Chinese Internet language). Some examples are given below:

gf for ‘girl friend’, bf for ‘boy friend’

re, short form for ‘regarding’

lol, short form for ‘laugh out loudly’

cu, short form for ‘see you’.

 Stylized numbers

This category is the result of the prevalence of pagers a decade or so ago. Due to the convenience, the number initials are transferred to Internet language. Some examples are given below:

555: denoting pretended sorrow, crying; 7456, qisi wo le 气死我了 ‘indignant’; 9494, jiushi jiushi 就是就是 ‘that is it’; 748, qusi ba 去死吧 ‘go to hell’; 8147, buyao shengqi 不要生气 ‘do not be angry’; 886, baibai la/baibai lou 拜拜拉/拜拜喽 ‘see you’; 521, wo ai ni 我爱你 ‘I Love You’ 246饿死 e ss le ’I’m hungry’.

To transcribe English words in Taiwanese or Mandarin characters. Ther are two examples of stylized English in Taiwan, 奥买尬 for ‘Oh, my god’ and 古耐 for ‘Good night”.

Even though these two examples are understandable to people in Mainland China, but not used. Another example is: 辜狗 for ‘google’, which is not used in Chinese Internet language, either.

Different adaptations in Taiwan and Mainland China 

According to the study of Chuseng Yang, there are many differences between adaptations in Mainland China and those in Taiwan.

Taiwan and Mainland China lead to a different treatment of English words. Also netizens in Taiwan tend to use Mandarin characters to transcribe English words much more often than in Mainland China. In Mainland China, only those really popular English words are transcribed this way and have been incorporated into Chinese lexicons. For other English words, netizens in Mainland China prefer to use the initials to represent them.

In comparison with mainland China, Taiwan generally has a higher level of English proficiency and a higher percentage of English speakers. And the mixing of Mandarin and English is not considered unfavorable in Taiwan..

However, the nature of Internet chat and the trouble in inputting Chinese characters, coupled with the fact that many participants in Internet communication are well-educated, contribute to the wide use of English words in Internet communication. To improve Internet communication, many English words or phrases, even sentences are truncated or shortened and become initials.  They are so widely used that they have become an integral part of Chinese Internet language.

Meanwhile, different from stylized Taiwanese and stylized Taiwanese-accented Mandarin, there are more stylized Mandarin words in Mainland China. In Taiwan, both Mandarin and Taiwanese are widely spoken, together with some other dialects whereas in Mainland China, Mandarin is the major language spoken, along with many other dialects. Therefore, in adapting to the Internet language, netizens in Taiwan would appeal to both Taiwanese and Mandarin whereas in Mainland China, Mandarin is often the only language to appeal to. Another possible factor is the population of netizens in Taiwan and Mainland China. As there are many more netizens in Mainland China than in Taiwan, there are accordingly more innovations in terms of stylized Mandarin.

Some of the newest ways of Chinese Internet usage: The Martian language

Martian language (火星文) huoxingwen; literally „Martian script” is the nickname of unconventional representation of Chinese characters online.

Started in 2007,  Martian language began to catch on in mainland China. The first adopters of Martian language also the young ones, however in this case especially after-ninety (those born in the 1990s) netizens.

They use it in their nicknames, short messages, and chat rooms in order to demonstrate personality differences. Later, they found that their teachers and parents could hardly figure out their new language, which quickly became their secret code to communicate with each other.

The Martian language became so popular in cyberspace that even some pieces of software were created to translate between Chinese and Martian language.

Chinese online bloggers began to use Martian language too, because they found that their blog posts written in the new language can easily pass Internet censorship engines, which are currently based on text-matching techniques.

Some general aspects

The Martian language is written from Chinese by means of various substitution methods as already been representated.  Martian, standard Chinese characters are replaced with substandard ones, or foreign scripts. For each Chinese character, it may be replaced it with:

1., a character which is a homophone
2., a character which looks similar
3., a character with a similar radical
4., a character with the same or similar meaning
5., or, the characters of the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic, Hiragana, Bopomofo, Katakana, IPA, uncommon unicode symbols, Hanyu Pinyin, SMS language, also quite often being used.


劳エ - 老公 - husband

侽喷叐 - 男盆友 - 男朋友 - boyfriend

蒶ロ耐 - 粉口爱-很可爱 – so cute

伱傃谁 - 你素谁 - 你是谁 – who are you?

Adoptions from various dialects


街系挖欸喀 - 这是我的脚 – that’s my leg

龙模揪耶啦 - 都没约的啦 – it it hasn't been appointed at all

Kejia (hakka)

- – me

麦怪 - 乜野 - 什么 – what

Kanji borrowing

麻吉 - 朋友  - friend

- – me


偶ㄉ电脑坏掉ㄌ害偶一整天都粉sad~ >"< /苊菂电脑坏扌卓叻,嗐硪整忝嘟彳艮伤吣我的电脑坏掉了,害我一整天都很伤心~ my computer went wrong, I feel bad for the whole day

酱很好阿 - - jiang- 这样


Liwei Gao: (2008): Language change in progress: Evidence from Computer Mediated Communication. In: Proceedings of NACCL-20 (Ohio State U.), 361-377.p.

Chunsheng Yang: C. (2007). Chinese Internet language: A sociolinguistic analysis of adaptations of the Chinese writing system. Language@Internet, 4, article 2. (urn:nbn:de:0009-7-114251.11.2011.


  1. Vicces, hogy a modemre a 猫-t használják :)

    A 天才-nak van "zseni" jelentése a kínaiban?

  2. "7456, qisi wo le 气死我了 "

    Ezt a japánok is szeretik :)
    4649 : よろしく

  3. 天才-igen, alapvetően pont, hogy zsenit jelent.

    Majd megpróbálok a japán internetszlengre is összeszedni valamit.

  4. "Majd megpróbálok a japán internetszlengre is összeszedni valamit."

    楽しみにしています。 Azért én is keresek majd valamit :)

  5. A japánban a 天才 és a  天災 ugyanúgy hangzik :)

  6. Okézs, várom a te bejegyzésed is!

    "A japánban a 天才 és a 天災 ugyanúgy hangzik" - ezért nem volt érdemes kidobni a kanji-kat! :)

  7. I am really happy to read this webpage posts which contains tons
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    1. Hey-hey, excuse me my damn late reply - delayed literally in ages, somehow your comment went to my spam folder, of which existence I've just found out...Thanks for the comment though!


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