Going “Gaga” In Ads

18 Apr 2017

There’s a word (“ga”) in Shanghainese (and other Wu fangyan) that just means “really” or “very.” Because it’s not standard Mandarin, you don’t see it written a whole lot, but I noticed it in two different ads in Shanghai recently (and one even has pinyin!):

嘎便宜

噶便宜 – really cheap

Also, extra points for:

WOW – “WOW-est”

嘎实惠

嘎实惠 – really a good deal

(And yes, if you want to try using this adverb, you are quite likely to amuse your Chinese friends.)


UPDATE: Commenter Lin and reader Danny point out something I glossed over in the original post: the first ad uses the character , and the second ad uses . Both are “gā” in this context. So what’s the difference? Well, the short answer is that since this is not a standard word (both characters can be found in the authoritative 现代汉语词典 dictionary, but neither list this meaning), there is no “officially correct” character for it. In my experience, however, is more widely used, and it’s also the one my computer’s pinyin input prompts first.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Erick Garcia Says: April 19, 2017 at 1:16 am

    If everyday there is a sale, then there IS no sale

  2. Your ads have to different characters for ‘ga’ (i.e., 嘎 and 噶). Is one more common or are they interchangeably used?

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