erhuaing the fenqing

October 30th, 2009

Maybe I should’ve snuck a recording and submitted it to the good folks at Beijing Sounds…. Anyways, my wife just said:


Yes, with a full, classic, and entirely natural, uncontrived, Beijing 儿化音 (rhoticization? is that the right word?) on the end. And so, naturally, one wonders what the R means here? Is it some kind of diminutive? Indicating what? Familiarity? Or is it perhaps a little belittling?

And what sparked this off was the need to explain ‘misanthrope‘ to her- a word I know only in English and French (a word which would be the same, just pronounced differently in those two languages).

Why? Because I’ve been in a rather misanthropic mood today. Well, alright, “misanthrope” is my default setting, but I haven’t had the energy to keep up any pretence of sociability today.

Anyway, lzh seems to equate ‘misanthrope’ with ‘愤青’ (angry youth) – an equation that does not sit well with me. Misanthropes may be often grumpy and generally prickly round the edges, but in my experience they tend to be highly rational individuals. The angry youth, so far as I can tell, don’t do reason or logic very well, placing the emphasis on irrational outbursts of anger. I still haven’t managed to figure out what that anger is about or where it comes from, as they seem to be generally from affluent, urban backgrounds.

Still, it seems to me that developed countries in general have an overabundance of irrationally angry young people, so perhaps we should take the emergence of the angry youth as a sign of China’s development?

Whatever, I was just surprised and intrigued to hear ‘angry youth’ given the Beijing R-treatment.

4 Responses to “erhuaing the fenqing”

  1. Beijing Sounds Says:

    I heard you were channeling erhuayin…

    Fenqingr is beautiful — and very unexpected. Maybe she felt like making those bad boys cute because she was implicitly making you a member of their group. Awwww, so sweet.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Yeah, that was another possibility I thought of, but didn’t include- “aw, you cute little fenqingr, you!”

  3. Frog Says:

    Hi, Chris :)
    Being a misanthrope myself, I’ve tried to find a translation a few times already. The closest one I’ve heard yet is 厌世着 (“world-hater”), but it was suggested to me by a professionnal chinese-french translator, and I don’t know if it’s an actual word or if she made it up while translating Molière…

  4. wangbo Says:

    Hi, Frog. From what I remember of Molière (very little, that is), trying to translate him would have me dreaming up many similar words. Nciku ( gives “愤世嫉俗者;厌恶人类者;厌世者”, which backs up your friend.