Beginning around the end of April, there was a flurry of activity surrounding this Chinglish expression: "no zuo no die".
The big news was that this Chinglishism had supposedly entered the American vocabulary, witness this article: "Chinese buzzword 'no zuo no die' enters Urban Dictionary", and there were scores of others, most of them giving essentially the same story, namely, that "no zuo no die" had won a place in the Urban Dictionary, a rather dubious distinction.
Here's the entry:
This phrase is of Chinglish origin. Means if you don't do stupid things, they won't come back and bite you in the ass. (But if you do, they most certainly will.) Zuo /zwo/ is a Chinese character meaning 'act silly or daring (for attention)'
I won't quibble over the definition of "no zuo no die" (at least not right now), but I don't think it is correct to say that "Zuo /zwo/ is a Chinese character meaning 'act silly or daring (for attention)'". In fact, zuò 作 is a Chinese character that in Mandarin means lots and lots of things ("make; do; become; pretend; act; perform; write; compose; affect; feel; rise; grow; labor; work"), but it doesn't by itself mean "act silly or daring (for attention)" (though I wouldn't be surprised if it has some such meaning in one or another topolect, e.g., Wu).
The person who wrote this part of the entry was perhaps thinking of the expression zuòxiù 作秀 ("for show; make a show; put on a publicity stunt"), where the xiù 秀 syllable, which normally would literally mean "elegant; excellent", is being borrowed to transcribe the English word "show".
For the alleged "daring" part of the definition of zuò 作, they were probably influenced by zuòsǐ (colloquially often read as zuōsǐ) 作死, which is actually the ultimate source of "no zuo no die". The Chinglish expression "no zuo no die" is a clumsy, bastardized translation of the Chinese phrase bùzuò bùsǐ 不作不死 ("if you don't do it you won't die", but which, as slang, implies "if you don't court death you won't die"), a doubly negated form of zuòsǐ 作死. The expanded, more explicit form of bùzuò bùsǐ 不作不死 would be bù zuòsǐ jiù bù huì sǐ 不作死就不会死 (same meaning as bùzuò bùsǐ 不作不死).
To recapitulate, zuòsǐ 作死 is a colloquial term meaning "seek / court / risk death; take the road to ruin; look for trouble; have a death wish").
Ex.: nǐ shì yào zuōsǐ a? 你是要作死啊?! ("Do you have a death wish or what?!")
In Modern Standard Mandarin, the usual way to express the sense of "seek / court death" would be to say zhǎosǐ 找死.
In recent years, there have been energetic attempts on the part of Chinglish enthusiasts to inject specimens of this aberrant form of English into standard English (we have dealt with some of them here and in many other Language Log posts), but it is hard to point to any that have really stuck and become part of the lexicon. Not even the venerable "long time no see" can securely be traced back to Chinese.
Be that as it may, I have never heard any native speaker of English use the expression "no zuo no die", though I have no doubt whatsoever that it is widely used among Chinese who are fond of sprinkling their speech with bits and pieces of English.
[Thanks to Wei Shao]