You’ve probably come across tabloid headlines slamming celebrities as 傻子 (shǎzi) or 呆子 (dāizi), but have you noticed the context in which each expression is used? Both 傻子(shǎzi) and 呆子 (dāizi) describe people who aren’t smart/intelligent and can be translated as “fool,” but they highlight different attributes.
傻 (shǎ) stresses stupidity and muddle-headedness. Therefore, 傻子 (shǎzi) is someone foolish and unintelligent.
“bǎ qúnzhòng dānɡ shǎzi de rén shì zuìdà de shǎzi ”
“The person who treats the masses as fools is the biggest fool of all.”
“bié dānɡ lǐcái shǎzi ”
“Don’t be a fool in financial management”
“zhème lěng ，zhǐyǒu shǎzi cái huì chūmén .”
“It’s so cold. Only fools will go outside.”
“wǒ bǎ nǐ dānɡ xiōngdì ，nǐ què bǎ wǒ dānɡ shǎzi .”
“I treat you like a brother, and you treat me like a fool.”
呆 (dāi) emphasizes mental slowness and rigidity. Unlike a 傻子 who is unintelligent, a 呆子(dāizi) could be very smart but obtuse and inflexible. A 书呆子 (shūdāizi), or nerd, for example, is someone who is smart but single-mindedly adheres to what’s written in books.
“xiānggǎng dàxué nèidì zhāoshēng , ‘shūdāizi ’bùshòuhuānyíng “
“University of Hong Kong Recruiting from Mainland, Nerds Aren’t Popular Choices”
“… bǎ háizi biànchéng zhǐhuì kǎoshì de dāizi ”
“… turning kids into fools only good at exams.”
Any questions? Or insights to share? We’d love to hear your comments!
P.S. Like this post? Check out our other Chinese Vocabulary posts!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.