Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Hucking Fell!

Twenty years ago, I was living in west Hunan province. A very nice place. On day, shortly after I arrived, one young man asked me in English.

“How to you like Fulan?”

I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about and mumbled some pathetic response.

Later, I discovered that what he had asked was how I liked Hunan. The local dialects have a tendency to change Mandarin’s /h/ into an /f/ sound and an /n/ at the start of a syllable to an /l/. This is quite a common feature of many languages and dialects.Sometimes the changes are in the opposite direction.

Anyway, I got used to it.

Guangxi, on the whole, does not have this habit. Or so I have thought for many years. Yesterday I was chatting with a close Chinese friend in Nanning on QQ and at one point in the conversation, she sent me this.

As usual I was baffled. Although I know every character, it seemed to make no sense.

“蓝瘦香菇在这里这里* literally translates as ‘blue thin mushroom here’, which of course is nonsensical. Of course, I queried it.

My friend informed me of a story about a young man of the Zhuang ethnic minority who was a disappointed in love and posted a video on social media lamenting his sorry state. In the video he attempted to say, “难受想哭” which does make sense. It means “It’s painful and I want to cry”.

Because of his Zhuang mother tongue interference he mispronounced nán as lán, kū as gū and got the wrong tone on xiang.

His post went slightly viral in Guangxi and people mocked his bad Chinese. The ‘wrong’ expression became a thing and was widely copied.

How are people like me able to fathom meanings when people start speaking deliberate nonsense?!

* As ever, hovering your mouse pointer over any Chinese characters will show the corresponding pinyin.

. This entry was posted on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 at 10:24 am and is filed under Chinese Languages, Ethnic Minorities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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