Discussing the Oscars in Chinese

He finally did it! As you have probably heard, Leonardo DiCaprio was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Revenant. Congratulations!
Let’s grab this opportunity to learn how to talk about the Academy Awards in Chinese!

In China, if you use the official name for the Academy Awards, 美国电影艺术与科学学院奖, a lot of people might not know what you are talking about. Instead, the Chinese usually just call it the Oscars: “奥斯卡金像奖” or “奥斯卡” for short. So you can ask your Chinese friends if they watched the Oscars in the following way:

In this year’s awards, perhaps the biggest news is that Leonardo DiCaprio was awarded for Best Actor. Leonardo DiCaprio’s full name in Chinese is 莱昂纳多·迪卡普里奥 [lái áng nà duō· dí kǎ pǔ lǐ ào]. Wow, that’s long! And difficult!

But don’t worry, this is the transliteration of his English name, but the Chinese usually don’t call him that. Instead, they use the much shorter “小李 [xiǎo lǐ]” or “小李子 [xiǎo lǐ zi]”. Because the transliteration of Leonardo DiCaprio’s name in Taiwan is “李奥纳多 [lǐ ào nà duō]” (yes, it’s different from mainland China!), some people mistakenly thought that his surname is “李 [lǐ]”, a common surname in China. Chinese people often call people using “小 [xiǎo] + surname” to indicate that they are close. For example, if someone’s surname is “王 [wáng]”, you can call him “小王 [xiǎo wáng]” to show that you are close friends. So fans started calling Leonardo DiCaprio “小李” to express how close they are with Leonardo DiCaprio. The effect is even greater if you add “子 [zi] ” at the end, and makes it sound like someone who lives just next to you.

Leonardo was awarded for Best Actor this year. Best Actor in Chinese is “最佳男主角 [zuì jiā nán zhǔ jué]”, and the winner is called 影帝 [yǐng dì] (emperor of movie actors). There are of course also the female equivalents, 最佳女主角 [zuì jiā nǚ zhǔ jué](Best Actress)and 影后 [yǐng hòu] (queen of movie actors).

Some Oscar-related words

  • 提名者 [tí míng zhě] — Nominee
  • 获奖者 [huò jiǎng zhě] — Winner
  • 最佳影片 [zuì jiā yǐng piàn] — Best Picture
  • 最佳男主角 [zuì jiā nán zhǔ jué] — Best Actor
  • 最佳女主角 [zuì jiā nǚ zhǔ jué] — Best Actress
  • 最佳男配角 [zuì jiā nán pèi jué] — Best Supporting Actor
  • 最佳女配角 [zuì jiā nǚ pèi jué] — Best Supporting Actress
  • 最佳导演 [zuì jiā dǎo yǎn] — Best Director

The Oscar statuette in Chinese is called “奥斯卡金像奖 [ào sī kǎjīn xiàng jiǎng]”, and because the trophy looks like a golden person, it is also called “小金人 [xiǎo jīn rén] (small golden person)”.

Ok, now we know at least two ways to express that Leonardo DiCaprio was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor in Chinese:

小李 [xiǎo lǐ] has been an Oscar 提名者 [tí míng zhě] (nominee)many times, but it is the first time he is actually awarded a 小金人 [xiǎo jīn rén] for his performance in the movie 《荒野猎人》 [huāng yě liè rén] (The Revenant). Of course, the winner makes a 获奖感言 [huò jiǎng gǎn yán] (acceptance speech). Let’s take a look at some part of Leonardo’s acceptance speech.

You can watch 小李 [xiǎo lǐ]’s entire acceptance speech with Chinese subtitles on Sina video. His Chinese 粉丝 [fěn sī] (fans)are also happy about the news. Let’s see what they had to say.

Chinese fans are of course eager to watch 《荒野猎人》 [huāng yě liè rén] (The Revenant), but unfortunately the movie does not premiere until the middle of March in mainland China.

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This is the accompanying blog post for our intermediate lesson “Leo Receives an Oscar“.

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