Obscene license plate

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License plate of a car in Beijing:

Source of photo:

"Chinese driver arrested for doctoring number plate to spell out obscene phrase:  Motorist added Latin characters to fake plate to make incredibly rude acronym" SCMP (9/28/17)

As you can see in the photograph above, the letters on the phony license plate are "CNMLGB".  That may not mean anything to most people who see it, but to those in the know, it is an acronym for:

cào nǐ māle gè bī 操你妈了个屄
(“f*** your mother’s ****” — as Laurie Chen translates the profanity in the SCMP)

There are various ways to write the first and last characters (the most vile parts of the phrase), including 肏 and 逼 / 比 / B, and there are variations on other parts of its construction, which I shan't go into here.

For glossary entries on these terms, see chinaSMACK under cào, cǎonímǎ, càonǐmā, and cào nǐ mā de bī.

A few related posts:

The use of CNMLGB and related alphabetic expressions on the internet and elsewhere shows to what extent Hanyu Pinyin has become naturalized in Chinese writing.  This is something Mark Hansell pointed out already in "The Sino-Alphabet: The Assimilation of Roman Letters into the Chinese Writing System," Sino-Platonic Papers, 45 (May, 1994), 1-28, where he shows that the Roman alphabet has long since been fully incorporated into the Chinese script.

[h.t. Jichang Lulu]


  1. Arden said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

    ChinaSMACK gives [cào nǐ mā de bī], not [cào nǐ māle gè bi]; what's the difference?

  2. Ryan said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

    A local news story here in the San Francisco Bay Area once reported on a driver who managed to get an obscene Vietnamese expression as a vanity plate, something akin to "f*** your mother". Apparently it was so offensive, the news had to blur out the license plate and every Vietnamese person they talked to was absolutely shocked that the driver managed to slip it by the DMV. They managed to track down the driver, who explained it away by saying it translated as "I love your mother".

  3. Jenny Chu said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 8:31 pm

    So SCMP bleeped out the English profanity but left the Chinese for all to see. (Majority of their readers are actually Chinese if you go by surnames, and one must assume a good portion of those can read Chinese.) But: wait – how would you put asterisks in the middle of a character anyway? Does a similar convention even exist in Chinese?

  4. Joyce Melton said,

    September 30, 2017 @ 9:16 am

    A sports writer in Anaheim was once denied the vanity plate SCHMUCK which the CA DMV claimed was a Yiddish indecency. He pointed out that it was his last name and was merely a commonly used euphemism for some other word. Well, maybe. Sources disagree.

    He got his plate, I saw it on his car parked at the OC Register. Too bad they could not have included his whole name. Peter Schmuck. He later moved to Baltimore to work on a newspaper there and I never heard whether he got the state of Maryland to issue him a vanity plate.

    The story is briefly related on his Wikipedia page.

  5. liuyao said,

    October 1, 2017 @ 10:28 am

    I suppose writing pinyin initials has become the equivalent of f*** and s***.

  6. jick said,

    October 1, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

    In a similar vein, when Lee Myung-Bak was the president of Korea, some car in New Jersey reportedly had a license plate "MB18NOM", i.e., "MB son of a bitch! (sipalnom -> 18(sippal) + nom)"

  7. bobbie said,

    October 1, 2017 @ 9:32 pm

    I'm the spoilsport who reported the Virginia license plate that said AY COÑO! (The owner had painted on the tilde.)

    COÑO = pussy or F*K

  8. Fluxor said,

    October 2, 2017 @ 2:55 pm

    The "LGB" in "CNMLGB" can also stand for "lao3 ji1ba1" 老鸡巴, which means old p****.

  9. richardelguru said,

    October 3, 2017 @ 6:12 am

    I've always wanted the courage to order a plate with "SWIVE PU"
    and then to extend the top of the 'P' to make it look more thorny.

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