Oh My Lady Gaga, and Other Linguistic Exchanges

Why are young Chinese so enamored of the phrase Oh My Lady Gaga? It’s been in been in use for a couple of years now, as an embellishment of OMG! According to this China Daily column, it didn’t originate in China, despite  Chinese claims.  It apparently came from where all good things come from: American TV. In an episode of Ugly Betty, camp character Marc says “Oh my Lady Gaga! Mandy, you’re brilliant.”

There are, though, some English-ish expressions that do originate in China: outman, hengeilivable, and antizen among others. More here.

Which bring us to OMG! Meiyu.

OMG! Meiyu is a daily three minute video produced by Voice of America. It’s aimed at helping Chinese speakers learn American English.  Meiyu (美语) means American English. According to host Jessica Beinecke– who we hear from in the pod– the title is a nod to the phrase Oh My Lady Gaga. In both cases,  there’s English, there’s Chinese (sort of) but most of all, there’s a playfulness around the language.

Beinecke’s videos have become wildly popular in China, not least because of her slangy approach to English teaching. Why teach an English learner bottom or rear end when there’s a more memorable word to pass on like badonkadonk. Here are the payoff  sentences from her lesson on physical fitness:

“She stopped working out and she got a little jiggly. I hear she has a muffin top, and a big badonkadonk!”

Another lessson:

There are three other items in this week’s pod:

Did San Francisco’s Chinese language newspapers help elect a Chinese-American mayor?

Did a religious linguist who created an alphabet for one of Zambia’s 73 languages do those people a favor? (I’ve done more, and more in-depth, on the subject of  Christians bringing writing systems to oral languages for the purpose of translating the Bible. For that,  go here and here.)

And how much is our everyday language colored by unconscious emotions?

Listen via iTunes or here.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Oh My Lady Gaga, and Other Linguistic Exchanges

  1. karla P.

    NVCC- Student of Intercultural Communication
    Karla A. Perez-Paz

    After listening to the podcast about the Chinese papers that might have helped a Chinese candidate win his election for Mayor of San Francisco, it brought me some laughter. I find it very obvious for a candidate of Chinese descent to win his election in a highly populated city by the Chinese. It only makes sense that he would win. Besides having their own China town, they also have their own newspaper in Chinese where the media gives information about this particular candidate. I think this is great campaigning and an excellent way of advertising an upcoming candidate to a certain election. This got a certain percentage of the population of San Francisco to participate and vote. Whereas other past years, most of the Chinese population did not bother to register. If a Latino candidate were to run for mayor or any other position in a highly populated Latino community, per say Miami, there is a slight chance he/she might win. However, if the candidate is highly covered by the Latin American media in Miami, there would be a higher interest in Latin American voters who would bother to go and vote on this particular candidate. The fact that a community’s language can affect an outcome of something like elections for office, it only makes sense to connect with everyone in their audience by learning different languages and creating a relationship with every ethnic community in the U.S.

  2. Tatiana Chernyakova

    Combining two words from different languages is very popular nowadays among people that follow MTV life style and especially among teenagers. When I was studying in university in Russia (I am originally from there) it considered cool among students to use such words. Mostly, the usage of those “cool” expressions that were created from joining Russian and English words demonstrated student’s belonging to a specific major and university. Those words in my university of management were commonly oriented to the management sphere. For instance, word “managit” meant “to manage” was derived from the English word “manage” with adding the typical ending of Russian verbs “it”. Formation and development of such words occurred every day, and younger generation enjoyed using them.
    As well, the same phenomenon exists in the United States. Because a large population of Spanish speakers present in this country, they use variety of their individual slang called Spanglish. I am sure I’ve heard many of those words before, but since I am not familiar with that language I cannot come up with even one example. Back to the point, bilingual people in the US use such words a lot on the daily basis, and sometimes they do not notice Spanglish words do not carry the original derivation and are composed from two languages.

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