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Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Dragonseed, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. Dragonseed Senior Member

    France - French
    Does anyone know the origin of the expression 什麼東西?
    Why is there a "bird" in it?

    I was looking at the system of classification of the Imperial "Mandarin Squares" (the embroidered piece that mandarins were wearing on the front of their robe to indicate their rank), and realised that the civilians ones were all birds, while the military ones (obviously "superior"...) were more "formidable" animals like the tiger, bear, or panther. Is there a link there?
  2. stellari Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Well it literally means 'bird', but it actually refers to the male genitalia, and should be pronounced 'diao3'. It is similar to the f-word as in 'What the f-'.
  3. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    It's vulgar.

    什麼東西? = Wadda f**k is dat? = 什麼東西?
  4. Dragonseed Senior Member

    France - French
    thanks! a lot less glamorous than I had imagined, but probably closer to the truth... ;-)
  5. daoxunchang Senior Member

    Chinese China
    I'd say it's not 'probably' closer to the truth. It's just like Jesus concealed in Jeez. The real character is 屌, which if you go analyse the structure makes a lot of sense.
  6. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    This is quite intriguing! :D
  7. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    鸟 was pronounced diao and homophone with 屌 in Middle Chinese, then its pronunciation was changed to niao3, probably for 避讳。
    In my dialect 鸟 is still pronounced with a /d/ consonant and homophone with 屌
  8. Dragonseed Senior Member

    France - French

    And yes, I couldn't help but notice the similarity of the character's construction with its female equivalent in the same register (尸 as body part/internal organ? and a quite explicit content to indicate the nature of the said body part, 吊 or 穴…)

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