Lawyerly Language

Andrei Marks · June 5, 2008

While I’ve been working here at my internship at the 国浩律师集团(北京), I’ve picked up a lot of legal lingo. Well, hopefully I’ve absorbed it. We’ll see how fast it runs out of my head when I’m back in the good old U.S. of A. But just chatting with the lawyers has also been a great study opportunity. Here are a few of of the top phrases I’ve learned:

Sort of “a right bastard”. Literally “smelly/disgusting bandit”. Used among friends as a joke, among strangers not the politest thing to say.

姑娘,这是你掉下来的板儿砖儿吗?(you want the retroflex on the the 板砖)
A classic pick-up line. Ideally you will pick up a tile or brick off the street (because there’s always construction going on everywhere in Chinese cities), present it to a girl and shoot off the question. Preserving grammatical structure: “Girl, this is your dropped tile ?”, equivalently: “Miss, did you drop this tile/brick?”

Niu, or “cow”, for anything that’s really good, like a good school, good car, etc. Cainiao, or “colorful bird”, for the opposite.

Zhuangding, sort of an able-bodied man. In ancient times, these would be the guys gang-pressed into the army. So now, if somebody ‘la’s, or “pulls”, a zhuangding, that means being forced to do something, like your boss throwing something down on your desk.

Sort of a ‘wow!’ Often wa-sai, sometimes ‘wo-sai’. Not sure what the wa or wo is, wo might be “I”, and the sai I think might be the ‘competition’ sai. The semantics are less important than emphasis.

Good stuff!


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