Chinese words for fake

Chinese Words for “Fake”: 山寨 vs 盗版 vs 假冒

Eskimos have hundreds of words for “snow.”

Actually, that’s a widespread misconception. 

But what about Chinese words for “fake”? Just off the top of our heads here, you have 7:

山寨 (shān zhài)

假冒 (jiǎ mào)

盗版 (dào bǎn)

高仿 (gāo fǎng)

仿制 (fǎng zhì)

仿造 (fǎng zào)

三无产品 (sān wú chǎn pǐn)

Maybe you already know these, especially the 3 most common ones: 山寨(shān zhài), 盗版(dào bǎn), 假冒(jiǎ mào). But did you know they have different meanings?

山寨 (shān zhài): Looks very similar but is actually not the same. It is generally legal so there are few options for someone who wants to seek legal remedy. They are usually made by small companies so quality is usually not as good as “real” products.

盗版 (dào bǎn): A complete imitation that tries to be identical to the real thing. They try to 以假乱真 in order to seek profits. This is illegal. This is common for products that use intellectual property, like books (盗版书), albums (盗版唱片), and software (盗版软件).

假冒 (jiǎ mào): this is something that is completely fake — from the exterior to the interior.

Still not clear how they’re different? Here are 2 more things to consider:

  • 山寨 usually has its own brand, while 盗版 and 假冒 use brands owned by others.
  • 假冒 is usually lower in quality than 盗版
    • Because the contents inside 盗版 are from the authentic product while the contents inside 假冒 are not from the authentic product.
One could argue that 假冒 is ethically “worse” than 盗版 because 假冒 tricks the purchaser of the 假冒 product! But on the other hand, the 假冒 vendor doesn’t steal the IP content of the authentic product (only trademark violations, right?).

Anyhow, here are how these words are used in the wild:

山寨 (shān zhài):

Example 1)

“天津现山寨iPhone4 “

“tiān jīn xiàn shān zhài iPhone4”

Fake iPhone4 appears in Tianjin”

Example 2)

“市民收到网易中奖邮件,核实才知遭遇山寨网站 “

“shì mín shōu dào wǎng yì zhòng jiǎng yóu jiàn, hé shí cái zhī zāo yù shān zhài wǎng zhàn”

“Citizens receive a Netease email notifying them about winning a prize, but after checking, they realized it was from an imitator site”

假冒 (jiǎ mào):

Example 1)

“杭州80后男女开网店卖假冒名牌服装被判刑 “

“háng zhōu 80 hòu nán nǚ kāi wǎng diàn mài jiǎ mào míng pái fú zhuāng bèi pàn xíng”

“Hangzhou post-1980 (refers to year of birth) boy and girl get sentenced for starting a website to sell fake brand name clothing”

Example 2)

“该作坊主要是制售假冒的食盐 “

“gāi zuō fang zhǔ yào shì zhì shòu jiǎ mào de shí yán”

“That shop mainly makes and sells fake table salt”

盗版 (dào bǎn):

Example 1)

“这个网站的大多数音乐都是盗版音乐 “

“zhè gè wǎng zhàn de dà duō shù yīn yuè dōu shì dào bǎn yīn yuè “

“Most of the music on this site is pirated music”

Example 2)

“全球盗版最严重十大电影:《阿凡达》居首 “

“quán qiú dào bǎn zuì yán zhòng shí dà diàn yǐng: <ā fán dá > jū shǒu “

“The world’s 10 most pirated movies: Avatar’s #1″

Example 3)

“微软此前曾从全国各地搜罗了不同版本的盗版Win7光盘 “

“wēi ruǎn cǐ qián céng cóng quán guó gè dì sōu luó le bù tóng bǎn běn de dào bǎn Win7 guāng pán”

“Previously, Microsoft found different versions of pirated Windows 7 CDs all over the country”


You can find many other examples on FluentU, where native Chinese videos are used to teach the language.

 What’s your favorite Chinese word for fake?

And One More Thing...

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