A lot of China’s modern Internet vernacular is inspired by popular TV series and media. We’ve rounded up a few of the most popular catchphrases coined in 2014 that remain in use this year.
Chén Qiè Zuò Bú Dào
Chén Qiè zuò bú dào (臣妾做不到) is a catchphrase from the popular TV series Empresses in the Palace. In one scene, the emperor becomes furious at the empress and asks why she doesn’t resent him. She replies, “Chén Qiè zuò bú dào!” which means “I’m not able to!”
The actress’ exaggerated facial expression was snapped and circulated online. It has since become a popular meme trotted out whenever people have to give something up or are unwilling to compromise.
Qiĕ Xíing Qiĕ Zhēn Xī
Qiĕ xíng qiĕ zhēn xī (且行且珍惜) is a catchphrase inspired by the “scandalous” spring-and-autumn marriage between actor Wen Zhang and actress Ma Yili. The man’s decade of extra years upset a lot of celebrity followers who frowned on their love.
In March, images posted to Sina Weibo showed Wen Zhang kissing another actress Yao Di. Ma was unusually calm and tolerant of her husband’s extramarital affair. “It’s easy to love but it’s hard to get married,” she wrote. The scandal last for the rest of the year and Ma’s calm reply of “Qiĕ xíng qiĕ zhēn xī” became a popular phrase to express helplessness and compromise.
It often gets paired with something else for a sarcastic effect, such as “It’s easy to eat but it’s hard to lose weight, qiĕ chī qiĕ zhēn xī.”
This phrase also comes from Empresses in the Palace. In the TV series, the main character Zhen Huan always says jíhăo de (极好的) to show her appreciation for something. Normally people would say the more common búcuò (不错), but the show attempts to employ classical written Chinese in common speech.
The awkward sound of the phrase and its frequent use made it popular online. Jí means extremely while hăo means good.