Hollywood stars

Why Chinese Moviegoers Name Hollywood Stars Like Scarlett Johansson ‘Soup Dumpling’, Entertainment News

Attempts to bridge the language gap between Chinese and English can often lead to translation losses.

It has helped create a cottage industry on mainland social media of giving Hollywood movie stars ingenious and often adorable Chinese nicknames.

Among them is Scarlett Johansson, who starred opposite Bill Murray in the aforementioned 2003 blockbuster Lost in Translation set in Tokyo, whose nickname is linked to one of China’s most famous culinary delights. .

The phenomenon is partly related to the difficulties encountered when pronouncing English names, but there is more to endearing nicknames than meets the eye, or the ear.

Often this makes long foreign names easier to remember while giving them some form of Chinese meaning.

For example, Ryan Gosling is nicknamed “General Gao” because in Mandarin his last name is pronounced gao si ling and si ling means a commander.

The Chinese internet has crashed over American singer Katy Perry being called “Fruit Sister”, or shui guo jie, due to her penchant for fruit costumes.

Another reason for this craze is to allow Internet users to quickly and easily share their common interest in films on social networks.

It can also relate to the appearance and peculiarity of the celebrity, a Chinese namesake of her English name, or the roles she plays in a movie.

However, the overriding motivation behind the growth of Western star nicknames is that it is a way of expressing affection.

Here are some other nicknames and the stories behind them:

Lady Gaga bie bie – “beetle”

This one has nothing to do with Lady Gaga’s name. It stems from the extravagant way she dressed before she hit the big time. In Mandarin, a carabid is called tu bie or bie bie and refers to someone who dresses rustically or distinctively.

Timothée Chalamet tian cha – “sweet tea”

Timothée Chalamet’s pronunciation is similar to tian cha in Chinese, which means sweet tea.

Billie Eilish bili – “green pear”

Billie’s pronunciation is similar to bili in Mandarin, which means green pear.

Tom Cruise a tang ge – “Brother Tom”

Tom sounds like tang in Mandarin, a connection latched onto by a television news anchor in China whose use led to the nickname becoming widespread.

Britney Spears xiao tian tian – “little darling”


For Chinese fans, Britney Spears is very beautiful and sweet. Also, “sweet” is pronounced tian in Mandarin.

Jessica Chastain lao mo jie – “model worker”

In Mandarin, the term lao mo is used to praise a hard-working person. Chastain earned this honor because the Chinese recognized the hard work she put into directing seven films in one year.

Jennifer Lawrence da biao jie – “great cousin”


A netizen who was very fond of Lawrence described the actress as a big cousin of hers, and gradually the name stuck and eventually started trending on mainland social media.

Chris Hemsworth chui ge – “hammer brother”


In the movie Thor in which Hemsworth plays the main character whose weapon of choice is a hammer. This and Hemsworth’s bravery and physique led to the nickname.

Selena Gomez wa wa lian – “baby face”

This name derives from the singer’s baby face and the smile of the girl next door. Also, in Mandarin, Selena sounds like sha lian na which means “silly face”.

Ryan Reynolds xiao jian jian – “little cheeky cheeky”

Chinese fans of his movie Deadpool have dubbed him “little jianjian” because the character he portrays in the movie seems to mock and laugh in front of the world.

Scarlett Johansson shui jiao – “soup dumpling”


The name comes from her first trip to China in 2011 when she ate a hot dish of soup dumplings in China and burned her tongue.

Benedict Cumberbatch juan fu – “curly blessing”


His trademark hairstyle as Sherlock Holmes led to Cumberbatch being known as the “curly blessing” or juan fu. In Mandarin, juan means curly, and fu represents the Chinese name of Holmes, symbolizing happiness or blessing.

This article was first published in the South China Morning Post.