Fak­ing It

The World of Chinese - - Street Talk - BY SUN JIAHUI (孙佳慧)

China is a place where coun­ter­feit­ing is not just pop­u­lar, it’s a vi­brant cul­ture. From eggs made from cal­cium chlo­ride and gelatin to cafés named “Sun­bucks” (or worse), there are knock­off ver­sions of al­most ev­ery prod­uct imag­in­able. But “fake” doesn’t just re­fer to copy­cats.

Peo­ple can use “fake” (假 ji2) to re­fer to al­most any­thing in every­day life. As one of the most pop­u­lar slang terms in China, its ori­gin is hard to fig­ure out, but it’s an allpur­pose ex­pres­sion to con­vey any strong emo­tion—ex­cite­ment, dis­ap­point­ment, dis­agree­ment, and, most fre­quently, sur­prise.

On March 8, per­haps the great­est come­back in foot­balling his­tory oc­curred at the Nou Camp in Barcelona. Paris Sain­tGer­main was sup­posed to have ended Barcelona’s rul­ing dy­nasty with a 4-0 win at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of their Cham­pi­ons League round of 16 matchup, but Barcelona mirac­u­lously scored six in their sec­ond game, ad­vanc­ing to the quar­ter­fi­nals with a 6-5 ag­gre­gate vic­tory. Chi­nese foot­ball fans came up with their own re­sponse to this his­toric match (the first time a Cham­pi­ons League team has come back from a four-goal deficit) by jok­ing that it was so un­ex­pected, it must have been fake:我一定是看了一场假的欧冠!( W6 y!d#ng sh# k3n le y# ch2ng ji2 de ugu3n! I must have watched a fake Cham­pion League game!)

The ex­pres­sion is of­ten used for mock­ery. Ear­lier this year, at the 89th Academy Awards, Faye Du­n­away and War­ren Beatty in­cor­rectly an­nounced the win­ner for the Best Pic­ture award as La La Land, in­stead of Moonlight. Such an em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tion, of course, de­serves a sharp re­buke: 这一定是一届假的奥斯卡颁奖典礼!( Zh- y!d#ng sh# y! ji- ji2 de os~k2 b`nji2ng di2nl@! It must be a fake Os­car award cer­e­mony!)

It’s more of a joke than acer­bic crit­i­cism. In a friendly de­bate, this buzz­word can defuse ten­sion and add hu­mor. Like when your friend com­plains that they don’t like Sichuan cui­sine be­cause it’s noth­ing but spicy, you can say: “你一定吃了假的川菜。辣只是川菜的一小部分。”( N@ y!d#ng ch~ le ji2 de Chu`nc3i. L3 zh@sh# Chu`nc3i de y# xi2o b&fen. You must have eaten fake Sichuan food. Spici­ness is just a small part of it.)

When it comes to com­plain­ing, things be­come even sim­pler. For any­thing you dis­like, the word “fake” is enough to dis­miss it: If a book is bor­ing, then the au­thor is fake; a movie sucks be­cause the di­rec­tor is fake; an al­bum dis­ap­points you, the mu­si­cian must be fake. Real Madrid lost the game? That’s be­cause a fake Cris­tiano Ron­aldo was play­ing on the pitch! Hus­band for­got your birth­day? Must be a fake hus­band.

Not ev­ery­thing “fake” is nec­es­sar­ily bad. In some cases, some­thing might just be too good to be true. Imag­ine: your bad-tem­pered boss sud­denly of­fers you a bonus, the lottery ticket you bought wins five mil­lion RMB, and your lost puppy comes home all by it­self af­ter two weeks: 今天一定是假的一天! ( J~nti`n y!d#ng sh# ji2 de y# ti`n! To­day must have been a fake day!)

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