Roll out of here like an egg, Xi

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Tweet from Heitor@Heitormde:

The 0:36 video was taken just outside the gate of the Chinese embassy in Brasilia.

When I first saw the anti-Xi banner in the following article, I struggled a couple of seconds to make sense of the Chinese characters on it:

"Xi Jinping a 'son of a bitch,' say Bolsonro supporters", Gustavo Ribeiro, The Brazilian Report (3/20/20)

It's only later, when I saw the video with a similar banner decrying the Chinese ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, with the characters in their correct orientation, not upside down as on the Xi banner, that I realized they wrote "gǔndàn 滚蛋" ("scram; get out; go to hell" — lit., "roll out [like] an egg").  In Cantonese, it would be gwan2 daan6-2 滾蛋 (lit., "roll out [like an egg]"; "get out [of the way]; go away; scram; beat it; begone; get out; go to hell; f*** off").

This is one of the most colorful, opprobrious, insulting, vile curses in Chinese.  We've often encountered it on Language Log (see "Selected readings" below), similarly we have also discussed the semantics of eggs — good, bad, and indifferent — in many posts.

 

Selected readings



7 Comments

  1. ycx said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 7:20 am

    Where do you see 滚蛋? I see two instances of the poster with the text "混蛋" (bastard, asshole), one right way up and one upside down, but didn't see "滚蛋" at all.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 7:39 am

    You're right, ycx. Thanks for catching that.

    Working too fast, too late, too tired.

    Another "egg" curse in Chinese.

  3. Jenny Chu said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 9:38 am

    Cantonese native speaker comment (from my household): 'As ycx pointed out, it's not 滚蛋, it's 混蛋; moreover, it's not "one of the most colorful, opprobrious, insulting, vile curses in Chinese", at least not in Cantonese…. It's no more that than any other Cantonese curse, at least.' Disclaimer: said household member is a teenage boy, whose opinion on the vileness of curses may be related to the mores of his cohort.

  4. Michael Watts said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 1:41 pm

    Another "egg" curse in Chinese.

    Eggs are round, but given all the other curses using the syllable 蛋, is there reason to believe that 滚蛋 actually includes the semantics of "egg", as you tend to translate it? ("Roll like an egg" and such.) Might it make more sense to think of it as just "roll [away/off/whatever]", with a 蛋 thrown in for pure emphasis? (And indeed, a bare 滚 means the same thing right down to the rudeness.)

    It's hard to see where the notional egg would come in in 浑蛋 / 坏蛋 / 王八蛋 / 妈蛋.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 5:01 pm

    We went into the semantics of egg curses in excruciating detail in the previous posts mentioned in the "Selected readings" of the o.p.

    Many Chinese people I know (including some very smart and learned ones) think that "egg" in these expressions refers to testicles.

  6. Victor Mair said,

    April 9, 2020 @ 5:21 pm

    @Jenny Chu

    It depends on whether your teenage son is referring to

    =====

    gǔndàn 滚蛋 ("scram; go to hell; roll [out like an] egg")

    gǔn nǐ de dàn 滚你的蛋 ("roll your egg[s] out of here")

    gǔn nǐ mā de dàn 滚你妈的蛋 ("roll your mother's egg[s] out of here") — very, very bad

    húndàn 混蛋 ("bastard")

    =====

    The last one, while by no means nice, is milder than the first three, especially the more extended forms.

  7. Calvin said,

    April 10, 2020 @ 6:21 pm

    There is no much use of "蛋" in Cantonese cursing. You almost never hear Cantonese using 滚蛋 or 混蛋 in their cursing expressions. The closest one I can think of is "李鵬是龜蛋" (Li Peng is a turtle egg) back in the 90's.

    Sometimes Cantonese use "春" (homophone of 膥 – egg) in place of "蛋" colloquially. There are terms like "春子" (testicle), "春袋" (scrotum), "多春魚" (smelt), or expression like "你噏乜春" (what the fxxx are you saying).

    One Cantonese curse similar to "滚蛋" is "躝屍趌路", loosely translated as "Crawl one's corpse out and be sent back". (趕屍 is another legend, see https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hant/%E8%B6%95%E5%B1%8D).

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