Cultural cues: internet slang shortcuts
Internet communication has become commonplace in China, and as more people are communicating electronically, some new "net language" terms have begun to emerge in Chinese culture. This unique blend of grammatical shortcuts, Chinese expressions, and English is sure to have you guessing and laughing.
As you can see from the chat window in the image to the left, people in China will often type “3Q” instead of “thank you.” This comes from the Mandarin Chinese pronounciation of '3' (sān), which, when said together with the letter Q, sounds like “thank you”!
Similarly, "88" is used to say goodbye, because "eight-eight" in Chinese (bābā) sounds like “bye-bye” in English. Not only that, the number 8 has positive superstitious implications in Chinese culture, so it is doubly useful.
Some new terms, though, come not from how they are pronounced but from how they look. Mandarin Chinese is rife with onomatopoeia - characters or words that come directly from the sounds they represent. Take for instance the sound of crying, which in Chinese is written "呜呜呜......" (Wū wū wū), meaning the same thing as "boo hoo" in English. As an internet shortcut, Chinese internet users will simply write "5555……" to indicate their brokenheartedness, simply because "5" looks similar to the Chinese character!
Above all, Internet communication is valued for being quick and accessible, and how to make it quicker than by creating shortcuts?! Not surprisingly, when Chinese netizens chat via QQ (a popular Chinese instant message service similar to MSN), more often than not they choose abbreviations instead of proper grammar, just like many internet users in the US and other countries are prone to do. When you are communicating with the Chinese friends you made from you last visit to Sichuan, China, don't forget to use these shortcuts.
These and other Chinese slang are fun ways to save keystrokes without losing meaning - it’s easy, fast, and now, understandable!