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炒鱿鱼 (chăo yóu yú) Get Fired & 断背 (duàn bèi) Brokeback

Apr. 1, 2015
Popular Chinese phrase - 炒鱿鱼 (chăo yóu yú) Get Fired

炒鱿鱼 (chăo yóu yú) Get fired

In China, when people are fired by their boss, they often like to say “我被炒鱿鱼了(wŏ bèi chăo yóu yú le) I am fired.” If foreigners hear this phrase for the first time, they may not understand. Now take a look at the following explanations:

Why say so?

“炒鱿鱼(chăo yóu yú)” first appeared in the south of China, like Guangdong Province. In the 70s and 80s, many “内陆(nèi lù) inland” people went to the coastal area to “谋生(móu shēng) make a living.” Employers hired them without providing them with bedclothes, so they had to bring them themselves. When they got fired, they would pack up the bedclothes and left. Then people found that to pack up the bedclothes was quite like the action of frying slices of sleeve-fish to a “卷曲状(juăn qū zhuàng) curly shape.” Thus, people used “炒鱿鱼(chăo yóu yú)” to humorously describe this situation.

Only for employees?

In the beginning, “炒鱿鱼(chăo yóu yú)” is used only by those employees who are fired. But now, some people who don’t want to work for the current boss and then quit also like using the phrase to express their mood.

Lăobăn bă wŏ chăoyóuyú le.
老板     把  我    炒鱿鱼    了。

My boss fired me.

Wŏ chăo lăobăn yóuyú le.
我     炒   老板    鱿鱼   了。

I fired my boss.

断背 (duàn bèi) Brokeback

Have you ever seen a movie called “断背山(duàn bèi shān) Brokeback Mountain” directed by Chinese-American director Ang Lee? Do you know what the word “断背(duàn bèi) brokeback” means and where it comes from?

“断背(duàn bèi)” is a new word from the movie. As is shown in the movie, it means “同性恋(tóng xìng liàn) homosexual.” Director Ang Lee created the word by himself. He was inspired by a Chinese word “断袖(duàn xiù) cut sleeve” which also refers to “homosexual” but has a long history. An emperor in Western Han Dynasty called Mr. Liu Xin “宠爱(chŏng ài) showed special favor” to his chancellor, Mr. Dong Xian. They ate together and slept together. One day, when they slept, the emperor wanted to stand up, but his sleeve was pressed by Dong Xian, so he cut his sleeve in order not to affect Dong Xian. Afterwards, “断袖(duàn xiù) cut sleeve” was gradually used to refer to the “亲密关系(qīn mì guān xi ) intimate relationship” between two men. Director Ang Lee changed the word to reveal the topic of the movie vividly and after that, 断背(duàn bèi) brokeback has become popular.


生词(shēngcí) Vocabulary:

内陆nèi lù adj. inland

谋生móu shēng v. make a living

卷曲状juăn qū zhuàngn. curly shape

同性恋 tóng xìng liànn. homosexuality

宠爱 chŏng ài ):v. show special favor to

亲密关系 qīn mì guān xin. intimate relationship

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