You'd better save this article now because no textbook will teach you this, but it is a super important phrase to know on your way to localize your Chinese.
When we talk about "OMG" in Chinese, are we really talking about the literate translation of "Oh My God"?
Not exactly...We are talking about "how to render emotion when speaking Chinese".
To convey your emotion as natural as native speakers, using certain structures is one way. We've talked about this before in this article. You can check it out later.
Today's article about "Oh My God!", is about the phrases that you blurt out with certain emotion in Chinese.
Most of you may have heard of this as a direct translation of "Oh My God". "天哪/Tiān na" literally means "Oh heaven".
You can use this one exactly as a replacement of English's "OMG". It can either be used for positive or negative situations. For instance:
Tiānna，wǒmen sān nián méijiàn le！
Oh my god, we haven't met for 3 years!
Oh my god, what to do now？
Besides "天哪/Tiānna", the younger generations of Chinese have developed a more specific system for more delicate tones. "我去/Wǒqù" is a new creature from the Millennials.
"我去" doesn't have literate meaning. If you translate "我去" as "I go", this phrase doesn't make any sense in any context. Just understand this as an interjection with 2 syllables "woqu"!
Started in 2010, this phrase has never faded during the decade. When netizens felt surprised, unexpected, unpleasant in some weird situations, "我去" will escape their lips, conveying a slightly mocking and speechless tone.
When you just found out your phone has been stolen or the screen has been smashed, at that moment you can say "我去!".
Or when you hear some shocking or disappointing news, you can also react with "我去!". E.g:
- Měigǔ jīntiān yòu róngduàn le！
- The American stock market triggers a "circuit breaker" again today!
- Wǒqù！Zhēnde jiǎde？
- OMG! Really?
Zhè jiǎnzhí tài kěxiào le!
This is simply ridiculous！
Influenced by the word's function of exaggerating the degree, today, young people like to use the phrase "简直了" to deepen their strong emotions in spoken language. "简直了" is often used for astonished/admiring/disdainful/angry/speechless/complaining tones. (Yes, basically all strong emotions can be rendered by 简直了, like "Oh My God" in English)
- Wǒ zuótiān wèi le gǎn bàogào yí yè méishuì。
- I stayed up for the whole night to finish a report yesterday.
- Nǐ jiǎnzhí le！
- Oh my god!
Kàn zhè qíngkuàng，wǒmen hái yào dài yí xiàtiān de kǒuzhào，jiǎnzhí le!
According to this situation, We still have to wear a mask for the whole summer. Oh my god!
Last but not the least, an important modern Chinese interjection, 哇塞！wàsài. This word is from a vulgar expression originally from Fujian Dialect and first spread through Taiwan. Nowadays, it only has the function of exclaiming. When you feel astonished, use "哇塞" to marvel. E.g.
Wàsài，wǔ bǎi nián qián jiù yǐjīng yǒu rén zài yánjiū zhège le!
Oh my god! People even started researching this 5 hundred years ago!
These are the 4 ways to replace "Oh My God" in Chinese. Did you get it? Keep practicing and I believe one day you will hear Chinese people blurt out "天哪/简直了/哇塞" to your Chinese fluency! 加油 jiāyóu！
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