Mutant Mandarin: A Guide to New Chinese Slang
by Zhou Yimin & James J. Wang (China Books & Periodicals, Inc., 1995)
Review by: John Pasden
This book is not nearly as good as Outrageous Chinese, even though the author of Outrageous Chinese co-athored this one. For one thing, it’s not readable. The words in this book are presented in alphabetical order, one after another. Dry and reference-like.
For another thing, the vocabulary just doesn’t seem very useful. I don’t know, maybe a lot of it is useful, but I hear very little of it here. Maybe it’s very Beijing, I’m not sure. Some of my Chinese friends have looked at it and admitted to not knowing a lot of the slang, though. So I would have to say that this book is not as useful as Outrageous Chinese.
One thing the book does have going for it is its two very useful appendices. The first is “Chinese Loan-words.” Did you know that the words “cocaine,” “fascist,” and “polka” very much resemble English in Chinese? Then there’s the second appendix, “Computer and Internet Terms,” which contains terms such as “ascii,” “cyberspace,” “LAN,” and “router.”
Both simplified Chinese and pinyin are provided throughout the book. I have never seen it for sale in China (but that doesn’t mean that it’s not; it’s not anywhere nearly as offensive as Outrageous Chinese). It’s a useful book, but not indispensible like Outrageous Chinese is to the slang junkie.