Top Chinese Internet memes of 2010

From Chinese news service Xinhua, the top ten Chinese Internet memes of 2010:
3. On 2010 November 2nd, the country's National Development and Reform Commission publicly released the results of their October urban food retail price monitoring. Amongst the 31 products it monitored, nearly 80% of the product prices had increased. With the continuous increase of food prices, new words from "蒜你狠" [a pun involving the word for garlic and the phrase "you are hateful/ruthless"] to "姜你军" [a pun involving the word for ginger and the phrase "checkmate"], and again from "糖高宗" [sugar] to "油你涨" [cooking oil] and "苹神马" [apples (notice that this pun has an extra meaning involving the "shen ma" buzzword too)], were created one after another. The continuous increase of prices also gave birth to the ""海豚族" (海量囤积一族)" ["hai tun zu" (hai liang tun ji yi zu), literally "dolphin tribe/people" (meaning people who hoarded to avoid price increases)]. Just like dominoes knocked over, apart from agricultural product prices collectively increasing, the prices of related food, clothing, housing, transportation [daily necessities] were also gradually rising, the prices affecting everyone's lives.

At the same time as people cut costs, they also discover new ways to do things. Group buys became a new style of purchasing. Several websites promoted "today's group buy" products with prices up to 90% off, attracting internet shoppers. As an emerging e-commerce model, group buys refer to users going through consumer-organized groups, specialized group buying websites, or business organized groups to increase their bargaining power with business and gain large discounts on products. This has attracted the attention of consumers, manufacturers, and even capital markets.

2010′s Top 10 Chinese Internet Buzzwords & Catchphrases (via Beyond the Beyond)


  1. I think the problem is that these are puns. It would be like trying to explain the term “banksters” by saying it’s a pun involving foreign-word-1 and foreign-word-2.

    Then again, this is a Chinese news agency reporting to Chinese folks. Not us barbarians.

    If it were intended for barbarians, then some effort to convey the sense of the puns would probably have gone into the article. For example, with the garlic/you are hateful pun, something like, garDICK. Get it? You’re a DICK for higher garlic prices. Or the dolphin tribe/people/hoarders pun would have to become, maybe “squirrel folks” for us.

  2. a pun involving the word for garlic and the phrase “you are hateful/ruthless”
    a pun involving the word for ginger and the phrase “checkmate”
    cooking oil

    Chinese memes sound delicious.

  3. The only one I really got was about the instant message system…apparently two companies were battling it out and one of them decided not to let you run their very popular IM software on the other company’s hardware. They sent a letter around to customers saying that it had been a “very difficult decision” for them to make…and China as a whole apparently went, “pull the other one, it has bells on.”

    Used, it seems, ironically. If somebody’s portraying something as if it were a real ethical dilemma, but the decision was actually a very easy and/or self-beneficial at others’ expense.

    1. I think I understand that. Kinda like a distant cousin to cockney rhyming slang, except using the peculiarities of the Chinese language and rhyming system.

      However, the rest of the memes are a bit hard to make out for a western audience, except for maybe number 6, which is similar to the Abe Vigoda meme. Even Japanese and Korean memes are easier to understand.

      From the looks of it, western memes thrive on absurdity and surrealism, while Chinese memes thrive on clever wordplay.

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