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Are you capricious enough to use the phrase “renxing”?
发布时间:2015-08-14 浏览次数:3386
“I just lick the lid of the container but throw away the rest when having yogurt. Don’t ask me why, I am rich and willful (我喝酸奶只舔盖儿,别问我为什么,有钱就是任性! Wǒ hē suānnǎi zhǐ tiǎn gàir, bié wèn wǒ wèishénme, yǒuqián jiù shì rènxìng!)”. For those paying attention, such eccentric declarations seem to have exploded on social media. At first glance, it seems a bit daft, but chances are the attention-hungry poster is just making fun of the buzzwords, “有钱,任性” ( yóu qián, rènxìng ). It’s somewhat similar to saying, “I am rich, so I can do as I please.” Renxing conjures up a strong-willed, unrestrained, and do-as-I-please attitude, perhaps bordering on capriciousness; neither had much to do with the other until a strange event in 2014 when a man surnamed Liu spent 1,760 RMB on a health supplement. Later, a stranger called to persuade him to buy more and Liu agreed. Over the next four months, Liu was swindled out of 540,000 RMB by a gang of unscrupulous conmen, always recommending more useless (but somehow vital) products. The police eventually caught the culprits, but Liu claimed that he knew he was being swindled at the 70,000 RMB mark: “I just wanted to see how much on earth they could take from me!” The online world thus proclaimed, “Rich people can always follow their own way (有钱就是任性 yǒuqián jiù shì rènxìng ).”

The phrase has since fallen into self satire and, as is the internet’s wont, it evolved at a startling speed. Of course, wealth is not the only source of such privilege; a pretty face can open just as many doors, giving rise to the phrase, “Good-looking people are self-willed (长得好看就是任性 Zhǎng de hǎokàn jiù shì rènxìng ).” Education is also a pretty good leg up, with top-performing graduates garnering a wealth of options, hence the sour statement from the struggling masses: “Top students are so willful (学霸就是任性 xuébà jiù shì rènxìng ).”

But, when it comes to true willfulness, nothing guarantees it like power, and there’s no better place to find its reins than in politics. When asked about the anti-corruption movement during this year’s CPPCC meeting, to show determination, spokesperson Lü Xinhua replied: “The Party, the government, and the people have the same attitude toward the corruption problem, to use a popular online slang term, we are all very willful (大家都很任性 dàjiā dōu hěn rènxìng ).” Bear in mind that it is the same spokesperson who brought us the wonderful phrase “你懂的 ( nǐ dǒngde )”, or “I think you understand what I mean,” when answering questions about the possible investigation of a member of the Party’s highest decision-making authority. This time his poor interpreter paused at the word renxing to ask for more clarification. She ultimately translated it to “capricious”. The incident was discussed heatedly, and, three days later, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized in a work report that “power should not lead to capriciousness (有权不可任性 yǒu quán bù kě rènxìng )”.

Though this phrase is clearly not to the government’s liking, at least as it pertains to the anti-corruption campaign, it may be time to take stock of your “capricious” inventory. Who knows, you might find something useful.
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