"Skr", the latest Chinese buzzword

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Let's plunge right in:

"How ‘Skr’ Took Over the Chinese Internet:  A brief history of the meaningless hip-hop term that inspired countless viral memes", by Yin Yijun, Sixth Tone (8/7/18)

"Skr" comes courtesy of pop idol-turned-rapper and reality show ("The Rap of China") judge Kris Wu, the man who during last year's first season gave the world "Do you freestyle?" (see under "Readings" below).

“Kris, can you predict what might become this season’s popular buzzword?” asked the host — to which Wu responded, “Skr skr skr skr skr skr skr skrrrr,” varying each monosyllable’s pitch. Tellingly, Wu did not elaborate on the colorful colloquialism: Though widely used, its meaning is head-scratchingly difficult to pin down.

To me, it doesn't sound as though he's saying the same thing each time, and I don't even think that he's pronouncing it the way it's spelled, which is very odd, since he's the one who popularized the term, apparently as a means of dissing back at people who dissed him.

If I were to pronounced "skr", I would say it like the consonant cluster at the beginning of "screech", "scream", "scrunch", "scratch", "scrap", "scrabble", "scrub", "Scranton", "screenshot", "scrumptious", etc., with vocalic "r".

More salient excerpts from Yin Yijun's Sixth Tone article:

Soon after the show’s second season premiered, however, Wu became a trending topic on social media when male users on a popular sports forum disparaged his singing. In response to being mocked, Wu released a diss track — simply titled “Skr” — aimed at his haters. In his post, Wu described the track as an homage to hip-hop culture. “I use music to respond in an effort to boycott cyber-bullying,” Wu said.

But the term Wu popularized has also been used against him. “Skr, Skr, is that English? Chinese? Or just scrap?” says a Shenzhen-based rapper in his own anti-Wu diss track.

Skr is believed to derive from a misspelling of “skrt,” an onomatopoeic term used to describe the sound of a vehicle’s wheels skidding on asphalt. Skrt was commonly used by rappers waxing lyrical about their luxury cars, and it was later adapted to encompass a wider range of meanings. Wu’s fans are largely credited for adding skr to the lexicon of Chinese internet slang.

As "skr" quickly spread among millennials, it developed additional usages:

1) Homophone replacing “is/are” (shi ge / 是个)

2) Homophone replacing “freaking” (si ge / 死个)

3) Homophone replacing “fight to the death” (si ke / 死磕)

Jackie Chan's immortal "duang" posed a challenge to the Chinese script, but in the end it succumbed and netizens came up with a way to write it using a newly invented sinograph (is it in Unicode?).  I'm guessing that "skr" will prove even more refractory to writing with Chinese characters than "duang".


"Chinese pentaglot rap " (12/28/17)

"Greasiness, awkwardness, slothfulness, despondency — Chinese memes of the year" (12/31/17)

"Duang" (3/1/15)

"More on 'duang'" (3/19/15)

[h.t.:  Alex Wang]


  1. Adrian said,

    August 23, 2018 @ 1:53 am

    Skr looks to me like sk8r with a suppressed 8.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    August 23, 2018 @ 6:25 am


    Much appreciated.

  3. Alex said,

    August 23, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

    I would love to know how many Chinese words or phrases have been replaced by acronyms. For example in English NBA or KFC. Meaning replaced when Instant messaging or SMS.

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