Writing Mandarin phrases with Roman letter acronyms

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Since the vast majority of inputting in the PRC is done via Hanyu Pinyin, netizens are thoroughly familiar with the alphabet and use it regularly as part of the Chinese writing system.

One common usage for the alphabet in the PRC is acronymically to designate frequently encountered Mandarin phrases.  In "The Chinese Internet Slang You Need to Know in 2021", CLI (10/19/21), Anias Stambolis-D'Agostino introduces six popular online acroyms:

1. yyds (永远的神)

永远的神 (yǒngyuǎn de shén; yyds) means “eternal God” and describes an outstanding person or thing. It's similar to the saying GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in English. The phrase is often used by fans to praise their idols or simply to describe something they are fond of.

For example:

    • 桂林米粉太好吃了,桂林米粉就是yyds!
    • Guìlín mǐfěn tài hàochī le, Guìlín mǐfěn jiùshì yyds.
    • Guilin rice noodles are delicious, they’re just yyds!

Here's another example:

    • 李小龙的中国功夫太厉害了,他就是yyds!
    • Lǐxiǎolóng de Zhōngguó gōngfū tài lìhài le, tā jiùshì yyds
    • Bruce Li’s kung fu skills are so good, he’s such a yyds!

2. nsdd (你说得对)

你说得对 (nǐ shuō dé duì; nsdd) means “what you said is right” and is generally used to endorse or approve of what someone has said.

For example:

    • Nsdd!这样的做法是正确的。
    • Nsdd! Zhèyàng de zuòfǎ shì zhèngquè de.
    • Nsdd! That’s the right way to do it.

However, it can also be used to brush someone off by hastily agreeing with them if the speaker doesn’t wish to continue the conversation. For example:

    • Nsdd, 都听你的。
    • Nsdd, dōu tīng nǐ de.
    • Nsdd, whatever you say.

Nsdd can have a positive or negative meaning depending on the context in which it is used.

3. zqsg (真情实感)

真情实感 (zhēnqíng shígǎn; zqsg), which translates as “true feelings,” describes an emotionally touching or heartfelt situation and is generally used to comment on movies or TV dramas.

For example:

    • 《你好,李焕英》这部电影太zqsg了!
    • “Nǐhǎo, Lǐ Huànyīng” zhè bù diànyǐng tài zqsg le!
    • The movie “Hello, Li Huanying” is so zqsg!

Another example:

    • 很久没有看到这么zqsg的军旅剧了。
    • Hěn jiǔ méiyǒu kàndào zhème zqsg de jūnlǚjù le.
    • I haven’t seen such a zqsg war movie in a long time.

4. xswl (笑死我了)

“笑死我了” (xiào sǐ wǒ le; xswl) literally means “laughing to death” and is used by speakers to respond to something funny, comparable to LOL in English.

For example:

    • 这张图片好搞笑, xswl!
    • Zhè zhāng túpiàn hǎo gǎoxiào, xswl!
    • This photo is so funny, xswl!

For another example:

    • Xswl,怎么会有这么搞笑的视频?
    • Xswl, zěnme huì yǒu zhème gǎoxiào de shìpín?
    • Xswl, why is this video so hilarious?

Xswl is the Chinese equivalent of LOL.

5. plgg (漂亮哥哥), pljj (漂亮姐姐)

漂亮哥哥 (piàoliang gēgē; plgg; used for men) and 漂亮姐姐 (piàoliang jiějiě; pljj; used for women) can be translated as “pretty brother” and “pretty sister,” respectively. Chinese netizens generally use these phrases to compliment someone’s good looks. Keep in mind, however, that “plgg” is typically used to describe stereotypically feminine men.

For example:

    • 哇!这真是个 plgg / pljj 。
    • Wa! Zhè zhēnshi gè plgg/ pljj.
    • Wow, this plgg/pljj is really attractive.

These terms can also be used as a polite form of address for someone the speaker doesn’t know well. For example:

    • Plgg / pljj,请问这个是什么?
    • Plgg / pljj, qǐngwèn, zhège shì shénme?
    • Plgg / pljj, may I ask what this is?

Plgg or pljj can be used as a polite, if informal, form of address.

6. bdjw (不懂就问)

不懂就问 (bù dǒng jiù wèn, bdjw) is a helpful transition phrase used to introduce a question. It is similar to “just wondering” or “let me ask” in English.

For example:

    • Bdjw,什么是阿基米德定律?
    • Bdjw, shénme shì Ājīmǐdé dìnglǜ?
    • Bdjw, what is Archimedes' law?

Here's another example:

    • Bdjw,这是什么奇怪的东西?
    • Bdjw, zhè shì shénme qíguài de dōngxī?
    • Bdjw, what’s this weird thing?

Chinese netizens are particularly fond of this type of acronymic inputting, not just as a shortcut to Sinographs, but directly by themselves, so much so that they are one substantial element in the fulfillment and fruition of Mark Hansell's declaration of the early 90s that the Sino-Alphabet constituted an integral part of the Chinese writing system.


Selected readings


[Thanks to Laura Dees\


  1. David C. said,

    October 24, 2021 @ 4:17 pm

    Satire on the subject (Chinese only):

  2. Antonio L. Banderas said,

    October 24, 2021 @ 4:26 pm


  3. Duncan said,

    October 25, 2021 @ 2:07 am

    > “笑死我了” (xiào sǐ wǒ le; xswl) literally means “laughing to death” and is used by speakers to respond to something funny, comparable to LOL in English.

    Of course LOL == laugh out loud, portraying a visible/audible but otherwise relatively contained reaction. The alternative ROTFLMAO == roll on the floor laughing my ass off is arguably rather less so.

    If xswl == "laughing to death", wouldn't it more exactly correspond to the latter? Alternatively, if xswl == "laughing to death" and is parallel to LOL, perhaps the more drastic ROTFLMAO parallel literally means "laughing to the point I accidentally pushed the nuke button"?

    So is there is such a scaled-pair comparable to LOL/ROTFLMAO, and regardless of scaling direction, what is the literal meaning of the xswl pair-acronym, if so?

    (Added after watching David C's YT link: In that scene there's actually two acronyms after xswl that I could context-guess to be scalings, so maybe they have three levels to choose from?)

  4. Victor Mair said,

    October 25, 2021 @ 7:37 am

    @David C.


    It's good to know how they pronounce the letters.



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