John Emerson, frequent commenter and proprietor of the one and only Idiocentrism (investigating the historical nooks and crannies no one else dares enter), sent me a link to this story at ChinaSmack, pointing out that:

This newspaper is not only interesting in itself, but every story and every letter to the editor is there in English and Chinese. Just hover your mouse arrow and the Chinese will pop up. The translations are idiomatic and very carefully done, as far as I can tell, and are a convenient way to build vocabulary, including slang in the letters. (E.g., 装 B “being a pretentious cunt”).

What a great idea! I hope this sort of thing catches on (though, being a lot of work for little obvious profit, it probably won’t).


  1. Presumably the B is being used because a lot of PRC software will literally not let you write the word for cunt (which I believe is 傻屄 – shabi in pinyin). Grass mud horse, and all that.

  2. 傻屄 is ‘stupid cunt’.
    There are other kinds of cunt. I once heard a woman cursing someone as 笑屄 xiào bī ‘laughing cunt’, presumably because they were laughing. But it was a long time ago and I could have got it wrong.
    屄样 bī-yàng is one I’m not sure how to translate, but it means something like ‘cuntishness’. It’s a curse on someone for their attitude or actions. Maybe a native speaker could explain these things better. There’s a fine art to all this.

  3. Well, the ChinaSmack site says:

    装B = 装&#23620 [zhuāng bī / zhuang1 bi1] verb. To show off, be a poser, or to act self-righteous, self-important, egotistical. To be a “pretentious cunt”. A popular version on the Shanghainese KDS BBS discussion forum is “IB” or “install B” because “zhuang” means “install” as well as “pretend.” The “B” could be any Chinese character with the “bi” sound like 逼 or 比. It can also be 13 which looks like a capital “B”. In fact, 屄 is the true character but almost never used.

    On Steve Jobs, there’s:

    To this day, three apples have changed the world: One seduced Eve, one awakened Newton, the third one is in the hands of Steve Jobs. These three applies represent three stages: Lust, knowledge, and being a pretentious cunt, steps in mankind’s progress. We have already entered the highest state of inflated desire! Now that Jobs is gone, will you still buy the iPhone5?

    That’s retweeted from Sina Weibo, and it says 微博 [wēibó / wei1 bo2] noun. Short for 微型博客 [wēixíng bókè / wei1 xing2 bo2 ke4], “microblog”. Usually refers to the microblogging services by Sina or QQ. A microblog is a service similar to Twitter, where updates are limited to a certain number of characters.
    This site has information about China, Chinese expressions, and the internet. It’s very interesting. However, being a “self-righteous cunt” is clearly different from being a “pretentious cunt”, so they need to watch their choice of adjective. Apart from the black turtlenecks, I don’t think of Steve Jobs as being particularly pretentious.
    I can’t see any explanation of the title “Chinasmack”. I was wondering if it comes from smak meaning “taste”. God knows why they’d want to use a Norwegian & German word.

  4. “Apart from the black turtlenecks, I don’t think of Steve Jobs as being particularly pretentious.”
    I would suggest that the 装屄 is aimed more at those who must buy Steve Jobs’ products than Mr Jobs himself.

  5. Oh, I see. Yes, probably, though it’s a bit of a generalisation; for example, m-l & I (mac owners) aren’t the slightest bit pretentious.

  6. See comments to this. Like the native English speakers there, I assumed it was smack talk from/about China.
    What about the Beatles?

  7. John Emerson says

    The site seems to be suffering a DOS attack.
    The translators speak:

  8. What about the Beatles?
    There’s also a fancy brand of audio equipment called McIntosh that used to confuse me when I was designing houses for rich people. I don’t know why Steve Jobs chose names that were already being used – including his own name, Jobs. I suppose if he were given a peerage he’d become Lord Employment of Cupertino.

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