Learn the Hottest Phrase in China–给力
给力 (gěilì): adj. cool/great
流行 (liúxíng): adj. popular
“给力 (gěilì)” was probably one of the most “流行 (liúxíng) popular” new phrases in theChinese language in 2010. It is an expression deriving from the Manlam dialect and it means “awesome” or “very good.”
It spread widely during the period of 2010 World Cup because it expresses excitement of the soccer fans. If we choose words from modern English to explain the expression, “awesome,” “cool,” and “exciting” are suitable choices. Foreign media sometimes translate it literally as “giving power.” Interestingly, it was not “给力” but it was the antonym “不给力 (bù gěilì)” that was popular on the Internet at first.
In fact, “给力” is an ancient word in the Chinese language. It describes how government authorities used to pay for their officials with servants. More specifically, the royal government gave different officials different numbers of servants depending on the rank of the officials. These servants provided free household services or worked in the fields for the officials.
Zuótiān wǎnshang nǐ kàn NBA bǐsài le ma?
A: 昨天 晚上 你 看 NBA 比赛了 吗？
Did you watch the NBA game last night?
Dāngrán. Húrén duì tài gěilì le.
B: 当然。 湖人 队 太 给力了。
Of course. The L.A. Lakers was great!
Zhège yóuxì yìdiǎnr dōu bù gěilì.
这个 游戏 一点儿 都 不 给力。
This game is not cool at all.
Fěn sè jīn nián hěn liúxíng.
粉 色 今 年 很 流行。
Pink color is very popular this year.