Strangely, I’ve been inundated with new Internet slang recently, and I just can’t help writing about it. It’s gotten me wondering about the specific processes and devices are at work for introducing and popularizing these “new” words. I’m getting closer to a unified theory about how it works, but for now, here’s the latest:
- mù yǒu 木有 = don’t have [wood have]
That mù is actually a purposeful mispronunciation of méi (as in méi yǒu 没有).
My students have cited two sources for this slang way of saying “don’t have”:
- A cartoon called “Mcdull” (mài dōu 麦兜 in Chinese)
- A TV advertisement where someone speaks in “non-standard” Mandarin
Apparently, up north somewhere (Shandong?) the pronunciation of 没有 sounds like “mù yǒu” in their dialect. So, to imitate that dialectal, “non-standard” way of pronouncing the characters 没有, Internet users have chosen to use the characters 木有 to remind people to imagine it being said as “mù yǒu” instead of “méi yǒu.”
I’ve seen stuff on the weibo (you need a sina or weibo account to view) to the effect of:
- yǒu mù yǒu shéi zhīdào… 有木有谁知道。。。 = Does anyone know…
It has also, as always, seeped into spoken Chinese. The other day I was asking some of my drumline students if they had seen something or another. One boy replied that he hadn’t seen it. But he said “mù yǒu” instead of “méi yǒu.” Everyone around us laughed approvingly.
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