Jiayou (加油)

English
#1
Why does Jiayo in Chinese mean "Do your best?" or "fight fight fight" similar to gambatte in nihongo? What does JIA YO mean? Does it literally mean FILL IT UP! as in fill up the gas tank at the gas station?
 
  • w84u

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    #2
    jia you!
    加油

    That's an interesting question. The literal meaning of 加油 is 'filling a machine with petrol" , so as to have more power to run longer. From this, a new and vivid use of it is derived to cheer or encourage someone in action: persist! with more effort! Don't give up! etc.
     
    English
    #3
    Thanks, w84u. A friend in Taiwan tells me also:

    "I don't know how this term came about but the direct translation is 'to refuel, to put more oil on/in something'. By doing those things, a vehicle or machine or lamps in the old days can 'keep going' or 'keep up with it'. So this is used in contexts of showing warm and positive encouragement and tell the person not to give up or feel downhearted. This is used in sports competitions. or said to people who are working towards something or feeling discouraged etc."

    So in JAPAN, where people say GAMBATTE, what does "gambatte" mean, literally. It used the same way as jiayo for sports and personal greetings in Japan, but I don't think it is about petrol. Gambatte, gambattemasu!
     
    Chinese - Mandarin
    #4
    the original form for GAMBATTE is the verb がんばる(頑張る, ganbaru), it has nothing to do with fuel. but the first Kanji(漢字) in it is 頑, this Kanji literally means determined, indomitable...
     
    Last edited:
    Wu - Chinese
    #5
    I believe that "加油"(jia you) could also be interpreted as "to accelerate(a vehicle) by pushing down the gas pedal", just my two cents.
     
    English
    #6
    If I was to translate jiayo into English for the benefit of my Taiwanese students, could I render it as:

    1. do your best!
    2. good luck!
    3. go, team, go!
    4. go, batter, go!
    5. hope everything turns out okay for you with your boyfriend/girlfriend!
    6. all 5? other translations that make sense?
     

    Greyski

    New Member
    Chinese
    #7
    If I was to translate jiayo into English for the benefit of my Taiwanese students, could I render it as:

    1. do your best!
    2. good luck!
    3. go, team, go!
    4. go, batter, go!
    5. hope everything turns out okay for you with your boyfriend/girlfriend!
    6. all 5? other translations that make sense?
    I think that jia you is used commonly and it is almost applied to all 5 in most context. But people would also say zhu ni hao yun to express the direct wish of good luck.
    In general, when you use jia you, you are supposed to do your best to make things to be doing well or you would like to encourage others to fight for a good result. for example, you hope to make up with your boyfriend/girlfriend because you had a fight, then you may say jia you to encourage yourself to do something better.
     

    Staarkali

    Senior Member
    France
    #9
    I don't think there is anything hard understanding 加油 for a Westerner; it's kind of self explaining: you want a machine/vehicle to go on working or working harder, you put more gas/fuel/petrol/...

    The usage field is already perfectly explained in the posts above: sports, work, life, love stories... :)
     
    Wu - Chinese
    #10
    I don't think there is anything hard understanding 加油 for a Westerner; it's kind of self explaining: you want a machine/vehicle to go on working or working harder, you put more gas/fuel/petrol/...

    The usage field is already perfectly explained in the posts above: sports, work, life, love stories... :)
    I am not quite sure if Chinese use "jiayou" a lot to encourage a person who is in love with someone but dares not say it out. :)
     

    samanthalee

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, English - [Singapore]
    #11
    I am not quite sure if Chinese use "jiayou" a lot to encourage a person who is in love with someone but dares not say it out. :)
    Yes, in my part of the world, it is used in such context too. For my region, Jiayou is a useful word that can be used to mean:
    1. Hang in there.
    2. I'm all the way behind you.
    3. You have my support.
    4. I think what you're doing is worth every effort you can garner.
    5. I'm rooting for you.
    6. You have my blessings.
    7. Best wishes.
    8. I look forward to seeing your success.
     

    Staarkali

    Senior Member
    France
    #12
    I am not quite sure if Chinese use "jiayou" a lot to encourage a person who is in love with someone but dares not say it out. :)
    I have been told to 加油 by a Shanghainese 阿姨 because I was 30 (at the time) and haven't got married (she couldn't understand why with such a choice from both Chinese and international communities, I couln't find someone).

    But this goes way out of the scope of this thread, customs of people concerning heart matters here are really different from what we are used to in the West, so sometimes even the easiest, blandest ideas are not to be expressed in some contexts, whereas we would naturally express advices and opinions in the West.
     
    Wu - Chinese
    #13
    I have been told to 加油 by a Shanghainese 阿姨 because I was 30 (at the time) and haven't got married (she couldn't understand why with such a choice from both Chinese and international communities, I couln't find someone).

    But this goes way out of the scope of this thread, customs of people concerning heart matters here are really different from what we are used to in the West, so sometimes even the easiest, blandest ideas are not to be expressed in some contexts, whereas we would naturally express advices and opinions in the West.
    After reading your post, something just popped into my head and I would like to share with you guys.

    I believe that in China people sometimes use "jiayou" to express his or her slight dissatisfaction or dissapointment.

    ATTENTION: the level of dissatisfaction or dissapointment is so slight that the whole sentence is not at all negative.

    When I was a kid, I could not remember how many times that my parents and my teachers used to tell me that I should "jiayou" because they thought that I wasn't working hard enough, my grade was a little bit low to their expectation, I was spending more time in computer gaming etc.

    They would say something like

    "Look at your grade, you should "jiayou" blah blah blah."

    Because that I am from the region of Shanghai, I could imagine the scene in which the Shanghainese ayi was saying that word, I might be wrong though.

    In your case, mon ami, wether that shanghainese ayi is dissapointed a little or she simply wanted to encourage you is not determined. It all depends on the context, intonation, and stress/accent. But anyway, a lot shanghainese ayi should really mind their own business. :)
     

    w84u

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    #14
    There is another word similar to 加油:

    打气 da3 qi4

    daqi literally means 'filling air into a flat tyre', a metaphor for the act of encouraging. When someone is losing his spirits in doing something, you should 给他打气(encourage him). 打气 is just used as a verb, never as a cheering chant.
     
    Last edited:

    Geysere

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    #15
    Hello all,

    How do you say "加油" in English, et en français?
    I've always used "Cheers", "Courage", "Travaille bien" but I don't think they are really appropriate and equivalent to the Chinese phrase... Any suggestions?

    Contexts:
    1. 鼓励正在学习/工作/参加比赛的某人
    2. 用于书信结尾(同学间互相鼓励)
    3. 运动会拉拉队的口号

    Thanks in advance!
     

    Geysere

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    #18
    Thanks Lamb and Jerry, seems that there are many phrases to express the same meaning, but none so vivid and concise as "Jia You" :(
     

    Kevin70s

    Senior Member
    Mandarin/Chiu Chow/Cantonese
    #20
    "Jiayou" literally means one of the followings:
    1. fill up the tank with more gas.
    2. step on it!
    The second one is more likely the origin of this phrase in its figurative sense. Close equivalent can be found in English such as:
    Hip Hip Hurray!
    Come on!
     
    English - Southeastern USA
    #21
    As for a French counterpart in some contexts of 加油, I think "Bon courage" works well in a sense of "don't give up", "keep up the good work", "look sharp" etc.
     

    Staarkali

    Senior Member
    France
    #22
    Courage is most appropriate for an all-purpose 加油, bon courage is more conclusive and is often more formal (but not always); in any case, their usage is slightly different and they shouldn't be used to replace one another.
     
    Mandarin/Singlish
    #24
    The only literal way to use this would be to be at a petrol kiosk.

    "Aye,加油。加到满满哦。"

    But if you were to use metaphorically,like we are supposed to,it would be to cheer someone or a group onward.

    The correct pinyin would be jiāyóu.

    But we usually scream our lungs out when saying this so it would sound like jiàyóu!!!!But you know better.
     

    Skathi

    New Member
    Norwegian
    #28
    I've actually had this explained to me (by a Hong Kong-chinese friend) as "Put oil in/on it", as in: Putting oil in/on the gears of a machine, to make it run smoother. (Or in the fastenings of a door, to make it stop squeaking, etc.)

    Noticed no-one has explained it like that above; though I'd contribute. :)
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    #29
    To me, the literal meaning of 加油 as an exclamation is "give gas (to the engine)" (給引擎施加汽油): 加 "add, give 施加", 油 "oil, gas 氣油", referring to stepping on an automobile's accelerator. It basically means "Step on the gas" (Go faster, work harder) or "Keep it up" (Keep going).
     
    Last edited:
    Top