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Chinese slang term: “作女”


We have all met them. That certain type of woman who is never quite happy with what she has and is a little bit too high maintenance, though claims she is modern, easy-going, and carefree, she is, of course, not. She is a little bit less knowing than she purports to be and constantly brings trouble upon herself. Diane Chambers from Cheers is one, the Sex and the City girls are others. Hell, this type of women is by no means new, even poor Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice fits the bill. We are talking about the 作女 (zuōnǚ), a type of women who constantly 折腾 (zhēteng, give themselves self-inflicted hassle). They consider themselves strong and independent, yet they are masters at manipulating and conspiring; they aspire to be mature, yet they are whimsical, unpredictable and inclined to temper tantrums.


Taken from the Shanghai dialect, zuonü is now in widespread usage, all thanks to Zhang Kangkang (张抗抗)'s novel of the same name, which centers on a young Shanghainese woman. If someone calls you 作 (zuō), don't be fooled. You are not being called fake, as in 做作 (zuòzuo). You are being called zuo, because you ask for unnecessary trouble and constantly have karma come around and bite you on the ass. If you encounter a zuonü, cross your fingers and hope that her capricious whims are at an early stage; things are likely to get worse.


There are, as you can imagine, myriad types of zuonü. In the early stages, the zuonü most likely suffers from 公主病 (gōngzhǔbìng, princess syndrome) and is she prone to act like a princess.

“作女”的表现有很多种。初级作女就像公主病(gōngzhǔbìng, princess syndrome)发作,她们的言谈举止都像公主一样。

After fighting with her boyfriend she shrewishly yells, "We are done, I will never see you again," as she petulantly stamps her foot. Ten minutes later, of course, she bangs on his door, "Why did you not beg for my forgiveness with a bouquet of flowers?"


Then there are the 文艺女 (wényìnǚ), those soul-searching artsy types who jet off to India to find themselves and to get over the last man. While she is there, though, she hopelessly falls for another brooding douche, which doesn't work out; the tears flow, the soul-searching continues and the cycle never ends.


The zuonü are by no means all fools though. Some know how to take advantage of their talents and have a firm eye for male weakness. They know that zuo cannot be a life choice, yet by mastering the art of throwing a temper tantrum (发脾气 fā píqì), or being coquettish (撒娇 sājiāo) to just the right degree, they get their men to do just anything they want, the blind fools not even realizing they are being ordered around. However, most zuonü are not so skilled, and being zuo is something they just can't help. They just end up torturing their lovers and bringing trouble on themselves.


作死 (zuōsǐ) is not only an act found amongst women; many an idiot man has said stupid things that, no matter their intention, cause them misery. Thus, 作 is often combined with 死 (die) to form 作死, which gave form to popular slang saying "no zuo no die", a phrase that has even made it into that most august of institutions, the Urban Dictionary. Take the man, for instance, who foolishly asks his wife, "Who would you save if your father and I fell into a river?" His wife swiftly slaps him, while adding, "How dare you wish for my father's death." "No Zuo no die" played to perfection. The best advice you can give to these men and women whatever they brought-on themselves—be it unwanted pregnancy, miserable break-ups, or job dismissals, is: 别作了! (Bié zuōle! Stop zuo!).

“作死”并不专属于女人,有很多没头脑的男人也会有意无意地说一些比较蠢的话,从而给自己带来麻烦。“作”通常与“死”构成“作死”这个词。现今非常流行的短语“不作死就不会死(no zuo no die)”就来源于这个词。这一短语已被收入到权威的《城市词典》中。例如,有的男人会很蠢地问自己的妻子“如果我和你爸爸同时掉水里了,你会救哪个?”。他的妻子会立刻一个耳光扇过去,说:“你竟然希望我爸爸死!”这个例子把“不作死就不会死(no zuo no die)”这句话演绎得淋漓尽致。无论是意外怀孕、情侣分手,还是被炒鱿鱼,你能给这些“作”的人最好的建议就是让他们“别作了(Bié zuōle! Stop zuo!)”

There's even a delightfully Chinglish rhyming couplet, much beloved of teenage girls, raging on the Internet, which perfectly captures the zuo predicament: "no zuo no die, why you cry, you try you die, don't ask why".

关于“no zuo no die”,在网上流行一首非常有趣的中式英语打油诗,深受少女们的喜爱。这首打油诗生动地阐述了“作”的窘境:

no zuo no die,

why you cry, 

you try you die, 

don't ask why.

Translated from theworldofchinese


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