Niubi: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School

By Cindy M. Carter, published January 30, 2010, 10:32a.m.

(I know, I know, but someone had to post this at some point. Figure it might as well be me.)

Author Eveline Chao and illustrator Chris Murphy serve up some naughty, naughty Mandarin in Niubi: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School. 160 pages of handy up-to-date profanity and text that includes Chinese characters, pinyin, tonal marks, pronunciation guides and dubious etymologies. Fun for all ages.

ChinaSmack has good scans of text and illustrations from the book, and spirited Chinese and English commentary from readers.

Here's the Amazon link, and a link to an old Paper Republic discussion thread in which we hashed and mashed "The Unspeakable Bi".

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Comments

# 1.   

Interesting, someone form Yeeyan translated the whole "Unspeakable Bi" article from English to Chinese. Here it is: “牛屄是一句称赞的话可能是汉语口语里表达称赞的最高形式。“牛屄是一种态度一种生活方式完全不考虑别人对你的看法从而拥有为所欲为的自由是对自己的能力了如指掌一旦下定决心行动所有后果都去他妈的是把的精髓提升n个等级用脏字儿表达出来。         “不能译的词这想法很不错它代表了某种价值它为翻译工作增添了一丝庄严神秘的感觉使它不至于只剩下挠鼻尖瞪窗户或是让一本书更压秤而已现在你瞧看见了吗我们也有些不可言说的什么一个悲剧性的理想我们笔耕的跟耕田的可不一样。      有时候我觉得的确有不能译的词这回事儿有时候觉得根本没有顺利的时候仿佛任何字词只要用心就能译至英语即使那个词本身已经消失无踪空余上下文产生的涟漪可查。      不顺的时候我在这儿翻译牛屄”。(译注原文为拼音下同)      字面上看,“牛屄完全没有不能译的问题:“有非常准确的英文词翻译对应——请原谅——“cow pussy”(译注原文的直译),“表动物的意思,“表解剖学的意思但虽然牛屄的内涵直白到让人尴尬其外延却远非不言而喻。      “牛屄是一句称赞的话可能是汉语口语里表达称赞的最高形式。“牛屄是一种态度一种生活方式完全不考虑别人对你的看法从而拥有为所欲为的自由是对自己的能力了如指掌一旦下定决心行动所有后果都去他妈的是把的精髓提升n个等级用脏字儿表达出来。      当然和所有哲学概念类似,“牛屄也有其反作用的一面——过分牛屄会导致自负傲慢狂妄专横以及危险驾驶区分正面和负面牛屄的关键在于前者有本事来支持这种态度而后者没有由此而来的衍生词有屄样”(屄的样子),装屄”(假装是屄——在中国东北说这话会有人跟你干仗)。这条区分正面和负面的界线对有权势的人有些模糊因为他们觉得自己在某种程度上确实牛屄。      举例: 1朋友高中班上有个同学每节物理课上要么睡觉要么完全不听无论何时永远头朝天花板不管老师有多怒该同学都决不写作业且注意力始终固定在天花板到了期末该同学在考试中几乎拿了满分该同学牛屄。  2在重庆钉子户事件引发的媒体狂潮中钉子户住户几乎被众口一词的称为牛屄他们在房子周围被彻底铲平后还坚持呆在房子里的决定是他们到底是疯了还是勇敢到不行?”的完美例证——这也是牛屄的精髓。  3在一趟飞出中国的跨国航班上一名脑满肠肥的平头中国男子在半夜之后和同伴高谈阔论当空服人员过来告诉他有乘客投诉时该男子坐起来引颈四顾说道:“谁这么牛屄中国人外国人?”随后将名片递给空服大致介绍了一下自己的重要性由此我们可以推断称别人牛屄者经常导致自己被列入牛屄一类该例子值得反复思考。 4如果我老婆讲了个笑话我却只报以冷冷的凝视我就很牛屄。         上流社会不使用牛屄”,然而本身表达相同的意思可供大众消费甚至出现在报纸的头条虽然30岁以下的中国人口头上愉悦地四处甩出牛屄”,在书面语中还是有些礼节需要考虑几乎没有中国人能鼓起勇气写下bi的正确汉字字下一个”,而是用同音字通常是”)甚至字母B来代替我唯一见过的真家伙除了用手指在窗玻璃上写的只出现在词典中——比方说在外研社的汉英词典中该字用两个词的解释匆匆带过我即便想写也困难重重——在我打字输入本文时我电脑的中文输入法为“bi”的读音给出了57个不同的对应汉字但是跟在后面那个并不在其中。      “牛屄难以翻译不是因为其释义庞杂而在于其用法它是带着敬畏倒吸一口凉气的赞叹也是一段充满污言秽语的冗长咆哮的高潮收梢它自身就足以成为自足的表达敬意之语因此难以泯然融入前后语境英语里根本没有好办法复制它的精华要义它常常以“awesome”(“fucking awesome”,试图再生的力道的面目出现问题是“awesome”是个空洞的形容词——它根本是回避问题——牛屄可以涵盖你要说的一切。      再遇到这样不顺的日子我将爬上高山在悬崖之上斋戒至恰当的英语翻译降临于我在此之前我离牛屄还有很长的路要走。   

Joy, January 31, 2010, 1:59a.m.

# 2.   

Hi Cindy, how are you? This sounds like a very interesting book. Coincidentally, I have two posts discussing the translation of "zui niu" (最牛). Here are the links if you are interested in taking a look:

"The Beefiest Translation" link text

"The Beefiest" (最牛) and "It Sucks" link text

Inside-out China, January 31, 2010, 12:08p.m.

# 3.   

Hello Xujun, it's great to hear from you again! I just checked out Inside-Out China, and found it very niu (in the positive connotation of the word). I've been thinking about the negative/ironic connotations of zuiniu/最牛. It seems to be a usage that's gaining in popularity, used to take the mickey out of celebrities/public figures who have been over-exposed, or people who are a bit too full of themselves. In the case of the judge you mentioned, my mind leaped to "bad-ass" (as in "the most bad-ass judge on the Chinese bench"). Seems the judge thinks he's a bad-ass - or is masquerading as a bad-ass - when in fact he's probably just a garden-variety ass. I've encountered 最牛 online and in the entertainment press a lot lately, and it seems to be poking fun at people who consider themselves to be 最牛, but who are not particularly , maybe even a little 。(This is too fun...but I'd better shut up before I get 土粪!)

 Cindy Carter, February 1, 2010, 7:09a.m.

# 4.   

I can't believe someone translated "The Unspeakable Bi" into Chinese. Thanks for posting that, Joy.

 Cindy Carter, February 1, 2010, 7:30a.m.

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