Chinese Corner

Meek Mill’s Beef, Spicy Chicken’s Duck1 min read

Nicknames for popstars on the Chinese internetChristina Xu

I went spelunking on the Chinese internet today. What started off as an innocuous search for Chinese Nicki Minaj fans quickly turned into a hunt for the ingenious, hilarious, and often slightly insulting nicknames created by Chinese fans for the American pop stars whose names they can’t pronounce.

After an inappropriate amount of time on Weibo and the Chinese equivalent of Yahoo Answers, I present the greatest of my findings:

Málàjī 麻辣鸡 – Nicki Minaj

A slant transliteration of “Minaj.” Means “spicy chicken” (má là is a spice combo commonly used in Sichuan cooking).

Méimei 霉霉 – Taylor Swift

Derived from xiǎo méi nǚ 小霉女, which is itself a pun on “pretty young lady” that replaces the word for “pretty” (měi 美) with an abbreviated version of “unlucky” (dǎoméi 倒霉). Chinese fans gave her the nickname after a string of her singles failed to make it to the top of the Billboard 100.

Bībuó jiějie 碧波姐姐 – Justin Bieber

Literally “Sister Bibuo,” a hyper-feminine transliteration of Bieber. He’s more commonly known as Liángliang 凉凉, which I can’t figure out at all.

Gōngyā 公鸭 – Drake

Literally “male duck,” as in the definition of a “drake.” I laughed out loud when I finally figured this one out.

Kǎnyé 侃爷 – Kanye West  

Transliteration of “Kanye.” In Beijing dialect, this also means someone who brags a lot with no actions to follow it up. I actually love Kanye, but this is still damn good wordplay. ∎

An earlier version of this post first appeared on 88 Bar. Mandarin terms are transliterated in pinyin. Featured image via Wikipedia.

Christina Xu

Christina Xu researches and writes about the social interactions and organic communities that form around technology and subculture, especially in the US and China. She designs research project for clients as Vernacular Systems and is faculty at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA in Interaction Design program. Her latest project is Magpie Kingdom, a series of newsletters and reports to help busy people stay attuned to China from abroad.