Jiayou (加油)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by danbloom, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. danbloom Banned

    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?
  2. w84u Senior Member

    jia you!

    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.
  3. danbloom Banned

    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!
  4. EddieCai

    EddieCai Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese - Mandarin
    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: Jul 13, 2009
  5. Green6 Member

    Wu - Chinese
    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.
  6. danbloom Banned

    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?
  7. Greyski New Member

    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.
  8. danbloom Banned

    Thanks for this info, Greyski....
  9. Staarkali

    Staarkali Senior Member

    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... :)
  10. Green6 Member

    Wu - Chinese
    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. :)
  11. samanthalee

    samanthalee Senior Member

    Mandarin, English - [Singapore]
    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.
  12. Staarkali

    Staarkali Senior Member

    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.
  13. Green6 Member

    Wu - Chinese
    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. :)
  14. w84u Senior Member

    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: Jul 17, 2009
  15. Geysere Senior Member

    Chinese - China
    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?

    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!
  16. Lamb67

    Lamb67 Senior Member

    1 Come on !
    2 I dont think there is one in Engllish due to culture difference
    3 Cheers !
  17. Jerry Chan Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese, Hokkien
  18. Geysere Senior Member

    Chinese - China
    Thanks Lamb and Jerry, seems that there are many phrases to express the same meaning, but none so vivid and concise as "Jia You" :(
  19. RH168 New Member

    I would say, "More power to you! "
  20. Kevin70s Senior Member

    Mandarin/Chiu Chow/Cantonese
    "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!
  21. viajero_canjeado Senior Member

    English - Southeastern USA
    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.
  22. Staarkali

    Staarkali Senior Member

    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.
  23. viajero_canjeado Senior Member

    English - Southeastern USA
    謝謝您. That's good to know.
  24. HiddenBull New Member

    The only literal way to use this would be to be at a petrol kiosk.


    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.
  25. Tsingtao Member

    United States
    Simply just say "Come on!"
  26. Sailor boy New Member

    Jia You - 加油 showing many meanings but in my view practically it means (in English) is "Keep it up" ..
  27. peter199083

    peter199083 Senior Member

    Go for it!
  28. Skathi

    Skathi New Member

    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. :)
  29. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    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: Mar 29, 2017
  30. lwangls New Member

    very similar to German “Gas geben”

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