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Why Thai Laugh When Chinese Cry?

Pig - er bai wu

Er bai wu (250)

One friend of mine recently told me a curious story. He had a girlfriend from Thailand. She was half Thai, half Chinese. And they were communicating a lot by messenger. During one of their online conversations he “told” her a joke and in response got a message:

“What’s wrong?” – he asked – “Why are you crying?”
“No, no, I am laughing” – she answered.
“How come? 555 is crying”
“No, 555 is laughing!”

I think that you already understood the reason of their confusion. They were referring to different phonetizations of the same symbols.
While their chat was mainly in English, they sometimes exchanged some internet slang in Chinese. But this time the girl made a mistake and used “555” in Thai variant which sounds as “hahaha” (something that English speaking netizens cipher as LOL or ROFL). However, my friend used the Chinese variant and it sounds as “wuwuwu” which stands for crying.

Well, most of my blog’s readers are foreign guys married to or dating or wanting to date Chinese girls. Thus, it’s not uncommon for you to spend time on internet and have an online chat with your Chinese soulmates. Some of you even know Chinese, this knowledge varying from simple “ni hao” and “xie xie” to ability of fluent talk.
But independently of your language level you can quickly incorporate some popular Chinese slang idioms into your vocabulary and use them in online conversations.

Chinese internet slang follows similar rules to English slang. It is either direct abbreviation – like “BRB” (be right back) or phonetization of certain symbols which produces a different meaning – like “c u” (see you).

Lets begin with the most widespread expression used in the end of chat.
88. Easy, right? “8” in Chinese is “ba”. Two “eights” stand for “ba ba” or “bye bye” .
This is quite straightforward and it’s easy to see the link. A little bit more difficult to understand why an affectionate way to say “bye bye” has “6” (liu) in the end and is written as 886. I myself don’t know and will leave it for your further exploration ;-)

The second most popular abbreviation is “520”. These numbers are pronounced as “wu er ling”, and due to some similarity to “wo ai ni” (我爱你I love you) – one can use them to express love… However, you should be very careful and not forget the correct order. Otherwise you risk to make a shameful mistake, since “250” is used to label someone as “idiot”.

Saying that a girl is beautiful can be reduced to just four letters “PLMM” (漂亮妹妹 piao liang mei mei). And sharing the information about family is even shorter. Elder sister is just “JJ” (姐姐 jie jie) , while elder brother is “GG”(哥哥 ge ge).

If you would witness two onliners exchanging the following codes
– 5376
– 8147
you shouldn’t think that they are playing “bulls and cows” game. In fact, they are having a meaningful conversation :-)
5376” is translated as “I am angry” –> “wu san qi liu” ( 我生气了wo sheng qi le). And the answer “8147” is “Don’t be angry” –> “ba yao si qi” (不要生气 bu yao sheng qi).

Another example of a dialog could be
– 596
– 098
where “596” stands for “I have to go” –> wu jiu liu (我走了wo zou le) and “098” for “Okay, go!” –> “ling jiu ba” (你走吧 ni zou ba).

Well, let’s not forget our goal and in the end learn few more sweet words… errr… sorry, few more sweet numbers that you can send to your beloved.

We, Chinese have our own way to say “XOXO”. It goes like that: 770880, “qi qi ling ba ba ling” (亲亲你抱抱你 qin qin ni bao bao ni) and means “kiss and hug you”.
And instead “miss you” you can just type “360”, “san liu ling” (思恋你 si lian ni).
If you feel that the girl is your only one, why searching for words when five digits are going to express it better? “04551” or “ling si wu wu yi” will tell her “you are my only one”! (你是我唯一 ni shi wo wei yi).
Finally, when you are overwhelmed with emotions and ready for commitment – look no further and bravely type “5170”, “wu yao qi ling” (我要娶你 wo yao qu ni) –> I want to marry you.

88 - bye bye

88 (bye bye)

Armed with this simple mathematics/linguistics you are now qualified for highly sophisticated online conversations.

C u, 88, Crystal Tao

  • Mark

    I knew some of these already but I had no idea how big this was :shock: . I’m gonna use these in my English classes, thanks!

  • Chris

    Great article Crystal. I only knew 88 and 520, the rest were all new to me. Good to know for the future. I’d be very interested to learn more about Chinese slang!!

  • Crystal

    You are right. “88” and “250” are by far more popular than the rest in this list.

  • maxiewawa

    “Well, most of my blog’s readers are foreign guys married to or dating or wanting to date Chinese girls.”

    哈?Really? I’m neither…

  • Crystal

    You have an interesting blog, maxiewawa.
    From it I understood that you are interested in languages. So I hope that you enjoyed this post – even if you don’t belong to any of aforementioned groups ;-)

  • Han

    Isn’t 886 more affectionate because it expresses the 哦 at the end? As in 拜拜哦? Someone also taught me 584131420: 我发誓一生一世爱你 “I swear I’ll love you my whole life”. Now that’s commitment! :shock:

  • Colmer

    :?: :!: I thought it was 521 not 520….

  • Crystal

    You are right, Colmer.
    “521” is also in use.
    However “520” is more widespread.

  • Daya

    Excellent one Crystal….

  • rob

    what does SPOOL\\s\50041 mean please help

  • knuts

    thank you for your very informative post.
    but would you maybe know what HC in Chinese Internet slang means?
    I can’t find or figure it out.
    thanks :D

    • Crystal

      Hi, knuts.

      Although I am not 100% sure but I think that HC is abbreviation of “hua chi” (花痴). Direct translation is person who has extravagant fondness of flowers (anthomaniac).

      In slang, it refers to a girl who gets obsessed with every handsome guy she sees.
      Later this slang was projected also to guys who can’t help staring at girls and are easy to get immersed with any beautiful girl they see.

  • tairua

    I have been called LP by a chinese girl what does this mean. And any idea what CC stands for if you have a relationship.


    • Crystal

      I will give two variants for each abbreviation.
      The first of each is more popular, but it seems that in both cases your girl meant the second one

      1. abbreviation of “lao po” – to address a beloved girl which is like “dear wife” or “honey” in English.
      2. “testicle” is pronounced as “LAN PA” in Southern Fujian Dialect (also abbreviated as LP).

      1. similar pronunciation to ”嘻嘻xixi“ which is like “hehe”
      2. abbreviation of “吃醋chi cu” . Literal translation is “to eat vinegar”, which means to be jealous in relationship.

  • ZhuBaJie

    thanks Crystal, these make me feel really old, as I don’t use any of them! Well, except 88; I’ll try a couple out with my fiancee and see if she knows them.

    I have to say though, I don’t think proposing over internet chat using numeric abbreviative slang is very romantic… :lol:

    • Crystal

      Especially, if you forget one of the digits and end up with a completely different message :lol:

  • knuts

    hi Crystal,

    sorry for not posting earlier, but thank you very much for your reply. Later I realized that it should have been better, if I had given you the context or a link to that thread,but I think you are right :D

    would you maybe know what is meant by 油菜? Now url of that same thread

    thanks in advance

    • Crystal

      油菜 means “bok choy” (Chinese cabbage). See images here.

      But because of similar pronunciation (just with different tones) in slang it can refer to another Chinese word 有才 “you cai” which stands for “talented”, “versatile”.

      So this is a funny way to call someone “cabbage” and mean that the person is “talented”.

  • knuts

    hi Crystal,

    thank you very much for your help and explanation. You are amazing for your knowledge and for taking time to reply to my question :D

  • kj

    could “886” mean “bye bye, love you”

    • Crystal

      Sorry to disappoint you, but I think that “6” doesn’t stand for “love you”.

      • Macmonty21

        yeh, I think the 6 stands for 了 or 咯

        • Angelina

          886 means 掰掰噜

  • Ben

    Learning slang in any language is a lot of fun, though it can be difficult to know the exact right context. And if you use it just to prove that you know Chinese slang, that can be a bit annoying, though I guess you have to try it for a while to get a better understanding of the right social context. Anyway, this reminds me of an article I wrote recently about popular Chinese slang from 2012, including 杜甫很忙Dùfu hěn máng. “Du Fu is very busy.”

  • rsdrdsfdsfdsfs

    how do chinese people abbreviate 100k, 200k etc?

  • covertrui

    886 is 拜拜了 or similar variant, so its like cuter because it kind of has more of a ‘im telling u im leaving now’ feel than simply ‘bye’

  • Garwin Kim Sing

    Hi Crystal,

    Normally my girlfriend in China ends our QQ chats with 88 or 3166. She also ended one recently with 886, so I guess I should feel flattered. But one time she used 3Q88. Do you know what that means?

    • Liwen

      San q ba ba. Thank you bye bye?

      • GKS


  • jon

    what does her name /: my name mean in text message