Today we bring you a Chinese slang word that is short but sweet: 娘.
娘 (niáng) traditionally has the following meanings:
- mother or mom
- form of address for older married woman
- a young woman (eg. 姑娘 – gūniang – ie. young girl; 新娘 – xīnniáng – ie. bride)
But among young people 娘 has also come to mean “girly,” mainly when describing guys. It’s a funny word and very similar in tone to “girly” so don’t be surprised if your Chinese friends crack a smile when you say it. (It might be better not to use it when you play basketball though.)
Observing 娘 in the wild shows 3 main usages.
First, you can just say that a guy is 娘, and you can use the general modifiers (eg. 很，真，太，这么) to describe it.
“tái dāngjú guānyuán mà mǎ yīng jiǔ “hěn ～”，tiǎoxìnxìng yǔyán yǐnfā pīpíng 。”
“Taiwanese official’s provocative language draws criticism when he calls Ma Yingjiu ‘girly’”
“zhōngguó nánhái tài ～le ，zěnme zhěngjiù ？”
“Chinese guys are too girly – how do we save them?”
“jiěmì: nánrén wèishénme zhème “～””
“Cracking the code: Why guys are so ‘girly’”
Second, you can say that some behavior is 娘。You just say the behavior, and then add a 很娘, eg.:
“nánrén dǎ sǎn hěn ～？”
“Is it girly for guys to use umbrellas (to block the sun)?”
Third, some other phrases have appeared that build on top of 娘：
1) 娘娘腔 (niáng niáng qiāng): girly way of speaking
“wèishénme yǒude nánrén “～”？”
Why do some guys have a girly way of speaking?
2) 娘里娘气 (niáng lǐ niáng qì): broadly describing behavior, actions, and manner of speaking which lack manliness
“táng táng sān chǐ nán kěn zhǐ jiǎ ，shuí shòu déliǎo zhèzhǒng “～”？”
“Fully grown man biting his fingernails – who can stand such girliness?”
We hope you have fun with this word!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.