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Talking About Picking Up Chicks 談論關於把馬子 in Chinese


(談論)                (關於)❶         (把)❷    (馬子)

(ㄊㄢˊ ㄌㄨㄣˋ)  (ㄍㄨㄢ  ㄩˊ)  (ㄅㄚˇ) (ㄇㄡˇ ㄗ˙)

(tán lùn) (guān yú) (bǎ) (mǎ zi.)

(to discuss, talk about) (pertaining to, a matter of)(girl, chick, babe)



(談論)                (關於)              (把)        (妹)

(ㄊㄢˊ ㄌㄨㄣˋ)  (ㄍㄨㄢ  ㄩˊ)  (ㄅㄚˇ)  (ㄇㄟ)

(tán lùn) (guān yú) (bǎ) (mēi)

(to discuss, talk about) (pertaining to, a matter of) (to pick up, to take hold of) (girl)

Talking About Picking Up Chicks 談論關於把馬子


The first way of saying it has been around for a while, but a more recent term is



(ㄅㄚˇ)  (ㄇㄟ)

(bǎ) (mēi)

(to pick up) (girl)


If you’ve been studying Chinese for very long, you know there is something odd about the first translation. The word for girl is



ㄋㄩˇ ㄏㄞˊ      

(nǚ hái)





ㄋㄩˇ   ㄌㄤˊ   

(nǚ láng),


as in this song, that I’m linking to. When speaking clearly of an adult woman, the word would be



ㄋㄩˇ   ㄖㄣˊ

(nǚ rén).




ㄋㄩˇ  ㄕˋ

(nǚ shì)


Yet, the word translated as “girl” in the first phrase is made of the character for “horse”





and another character





that means “offspring” or “child” in some cases, but can added to words to fill in the space or to mark them as a noun verbally.


I was curious if the combination of these characters meant “foal” or “filly,” but found the choices for a young horse are



ㄒㄧㄠˇ   ㄇㄚˇ

(xiǎo) (mǎ)

(small) (horse)



ㄧㄡˋ  ㄇㄚˇ

(yòu) (mǎ)

(young) (horse)



ㄐㄩ   ㄗ˙

(jū zi.)

(foal, colt)


Still, there seems to be a definite allusion to a small horse, and not in a bad way. It is just a fact of life that boys are looking for girls. And girls are looking for boys. So while a young man might say, by way of slang,



(我)      (不)        (知道)        (去)       (哪裡)            (把)        (馬子)

(ㄨㄛˇ)  (ㄅㄨˋ)  (ㄓ  ㄉㄠˋ)  (ㄑㄩˋ)  (ㄋㄚˇ  ㄌㄧˇ)  (ㄅㄚˇ)  (ㄇㄚˇ  ㄗ˙)

(wǒ) (bù) (zhī dào) (qù) (nǎ lǐ) (bǎ) (mǎ zi.)

(I) (not) (to know) (to go) (where) (to pick up) (girl, chick)

I don’t know where to go to pick up chicks.



(我)      (不)       (知道)        (去)        (哪裡)           (把)        (妹)

(ㄨㄛˇ)  (ㄅㄨˋ)  (ㄓ  ㄉㄠˋ)  (ㄑㄩˋ)  (ㄋㄚˇ  ㄌㄧˇ)  (ㄅㄚˇ)  (ㄇㄟ)

(wǒ) (bù) (zhī dào) (qù) (nǎ lǐ) (bǎ) (mēi)

(I) (not) (to know) (to go) (where) (to pick up) (girl, chick)

I don’t know where to go to pick up chicks.


A young woman who speaks in the current slang will say,



(我)      (在)        (釣)          (金)         (龜)

(ㄨㄛˇ)  (ㄗㄞˋ)  (ㄉㄧㄠˋ)  (ㄐㄧㄣ)  (ㄍㄨㄟ)

(wǒ) (zài) (diào) (jīn) (gūi)

(I) (-ing) (to fishing) (gold) (turtle)

I am fishing for a gold turtle.


Her mother might say,



(我)       (在)       (釣)         (金)          (龜)         (婿)

(ㄨㄛˇ)  (ㄗㄞˋ)  (ㄉㄧㄠˋ)  (ㄐㄧㄣ)  (ㄍㄨㄟ)  (ㄒㄩˋ)

(wǒ) (zài) (diào) (jīn) (gūi) (xù)

(I) (-ing) (to fishing) (gold) (turtle) (daughter’s husband)

I am fishing for a gold turtle son-in-law.


Trying to understand just why these slang words are used would be like trying to explain why “chick” means girl in America, or why “cool” sometimes means “very nice” or “good!”


So, if you happen to be in a conversation with some Chinese-speaking friends and are trying to be more casual, remember that slang rarely translates from one language to another directly. If you say,



(我)      (在)       (尋找)❻              (怎麼)             (拿起)            (小)          (雞)

(ㄨㄛˇ)  (ㄗㄞˋ)  (ㄒㄩㄣˊ  ㄓㄠˇ)  (ㄗㄣˇ  ㄇㄜ˙)  (ㄋㄚˇ  ㄑㄧˇ)  (ㄒㄧㄠˇ)  (ㄐㄧ)

(wǒ) (zài) (xún zhǎo) (zěn me.) (ná qǐ) (xiǎo) (jī)

(I) (-ing for following verb) (to search) (how) (to pick up) (small) (chickens)

I am seeking where to pick up baby chickens.




(她)      (是)    (很)     (熱)       (的)      (小)         (雞)

(ㄊㄚ)  (ㄕˋ)  (ㄏㄣˇ)  (ㄖㄜˋ)  (ㄉㄜ˙)  (ㄒㄧㄠˇ)  (ㄐㄧ)

(tā) (shì) (hěn) (rè) (de.) (xiǎo) (jī)

(she) (to be, is) (very) (hot) (adjective marker) (small) (chicken)

She is a very hot, small chicken.


They will either be confused or hard pressed not to laugh.


In similar circumstances, the women have it a little easier, as the dictionary translations for “guy” are all along the lines of “man” or “boy.” Although you might run into a little trouble with slang like lady-killer …



(師奶)        (殺手)

(ㄕ  ㄋㄞˇ)  (ㄕㄚ  ㄕㄡˇ)

(shī nǎi) (shā1 shǒu)

(married woman of mature age) (hit man, killer, formidable player)



There are nuances to that word that only make it applicable in specific situations.


If you want to call a guy a “hunk,” don’t say



(大)      (塊)          (的)

(ㄉㄚˋ) (ㄎㄨㄞˋ)  (ㄉㄜ˙)

(dà) (kuài) (de.)

(big) (piece) (adjective marker)



because you are basically calling him fat.

Rather, describe him as



(ㄕㄨㄞˋ)  (ㄍㄜ)

(shuāi) (gē)

(handsome) (elder brother)

handsome guy, lady killer





(ㄇㄥˇ)  (ㄋㄢˊ)

(měng) (nán)

(fierce, vigorous) (male, man)


關於 ㄍㄨㄢ   ㄩˊ  (guān yú) is made up of 關 ㄍㄨㄢ (guān), which means “close” or “shut”, and 於 ㄩˊ (yú), meaning “in, at, by.” Taken together here, I am going to remember them by thinking that to talk “about or pertaining” to a subject is to “close in on it” specifically for the conversation. By using this word, there is no need to use other progressive tense characters, such as 在  ㄗㄞˋ  (zài), which are like adding -ing to the verb.

This is the same 把  ㄅㄚˇ  (bǎ) that is used as a grammatical marker when putting a direct object at the beginning of a sentence.

You may recognize this as the character used for “younger sister,” 妹妹  ㄇㄟˋ  ㄇㄟ˙  (mèi mei.), but the tone is changed to a first tone and it is only used it once, so as to distinguish its meaning in this phrase.

女士  ㄋㄩˇ  ㄕˋ  (nǚ shì) is particularly used in situations where in English we would say “ladies and gentlemen.”

I went ahead and put the literal meaning of the character here, because it makes the most sense with the 女 radical used, but the translation to English can go either way.

尋找  ㄒㄩㄣˊ  ㄓㄠˇ  (xún zhǎo) is usually reserved for written language, which is on the poetic side, or music, too.

Or they might think you really want to start to raise chickens….

The same thing basically applies here as in note

If you want to venture out into Chinese cyberspace, here is a yahoo discussion of the term 師奶殺手 (as referred in the blog): Explanations of 師奶殺手