“No zuo no die!” Chinese young netizens are always saying this on the internet these days. This phrase was even recorded in "The Urban Dictionary," an American web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases, and more than 4,000 “thumbs” were given to it. However, as a native English speaker, you might be pretty confused when you see this phrase and may ask, “Is this English?” “What on earth does it mean?”
Well, actually, “no zuo no die” is a typical Chinglish phrase which derives from a weird but interesting combination of Chinese pinyin and a grammatically incorrect English translation of “不作死就不会死(bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ),” a very popular Chinese internet-age phrase.
“作死(zuōsǐ)” in “不作死就不会死(bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ)” is a term that originated from a Southern Chinese dialect and literally means “seek death” or “take the road to ruin.” It is often used to describe those people who “look for troubles or do unnecessary things which result in troubling oneself.” “作(zuō)” is a polyphone and here it is used in the first tone to mean “act silly or daring (for attention).”
1. Mike: Wǎnshang wǒ chīle liùge hànbǎo, xiànzài dùzi hǎo téng!
1. Mike：晚上 我 吃了 六个 汉堡， 现在 肚子 好 疼！
1. Mike: I ate six hamburgers in the evening and now my stomach is aching!
Bob: Nǐ zhēnshì zuōsǐ a!
Bob:你 真是 作死 啊！
Bob: You are really facing the consequences for your own stupid actions!
2. Língxià èrshí dù chuān qúnzi, nǐ yào zuōsǐ ma?
2. 零下 二十 度 穿 裙子，你 要 作死 吗？
2. Wearing a skirt at 20 degrees below zero! Are you trying to catch your death?
When Chinese people engage in daily communication, “死(sǐ)” is often omitted and they simply say only “作(zuō)”. However, the meaning remains the same.
1. Jiǎnféi yě yào àixī shēntǐ a! Kuàidiǎn chīfàn ba, bié zuō la!
1. 减肥 也 要 爱惜 身体 啊！快点 吃饭 吧，别 作 啦！
1. You really should take good care of your body even though you want to lose weight! Start eating and don’t seek trouble for yourself! (The way to lose weight)
2. Bob yìbiān kànshū yìbiān kāichē, zhēnshì tài zuō le!
2. Bob 一边 看书 一边 开车， 真是 太 作 了！
2. Bob reads while driving. He's really risking his life!
All in all, “不作死就不会死(bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ)” is actually the doubly negative form of “作死(zuōsǐ),” which means “If you don’t do stupid things, they won’t come back to bite you.” In spoken Chinese, people often use this phrase to make jokes about each other. It is also used to mock those who seek trouble for themselves or act in a weird way.
1. Mike:Linda yīnwèi jiǎnféi, sāntiān méiyǒu chīfàn, jiéguǒ xiànzài shēngbìng le.
1. Mike: Linda 因为 减肥， 三天 没有 吃饭，结果 现在 生病了。
1. Mike: Linda is on a diet and hasn’t eaten anything for three days. Now, she’s sick.
Jack: Zhēnshì bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ a!
Jack: 真是 不 作死 就 不会 死 啊！
Jack: Well, it is really no zuo no die!
2. Bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ a, wǒ yǐhòu zàiyě bù áoyè wán yóuxì le!
2. 不 作死 就 不会 死 啊，我 以后 再也 不 熬夜 玩 游戏 了！
2. No zuo no die! I will never stay up again to play games!
1. Sheldon only eats Thai food at dinner on Thursday night, but today he decided to eat nothing because the Thai food restaurant which he usually goes to is closed. His best friend Leonard would probably say______.
A. 你真棒！(Nǐ zhēn bàng!)
B. 不作死就不会死！(Bù zuōsǐ jiù búhuì sǐ!)
C. 你做的对！(Nǐ zuò de duì!)
2. Howard’s friends think he is “太作(tài zuō),” because Howard _____.
A. is admirable
B. does unnecessary things and brings troubles for them and himself
C. is very considerate and always takes good care of their feelings
Learn more popular Chinese words