Street talk: I almost died laughing

Updated: 2013-05-03 08:30

By Lee Maxwell Simpson (China Daily)

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We all love a good giggle, and there are dozens of ways to express it in English, from a barely audible titter to an all-out howl. But how often have you "fainted with laughter" or figuratively "spat out a mouthful of water" in amusement? Here are a few ways we can talk about laughing in Chinese so that you are never left speechless in a fit of hysteria.

The feeling is familiar: you find something funny. A smirk crosses your face. Slowly, an unstoppable fizz engulfs your entire body. Laughter bubbles up inside you. You're desperately trying to stifle these inappropriate waves of giggles, but you just can't do it. You may feel like you are going to 笑爆了 (xiào bào le, explode with laughter or totally crack up). When you just cannot hold it in any longer, out comes the full-blown cackle.

Hopefully, you are not in the midst of eating; otherwise, you may laugh so much that you spit out the contents of your mouth 笑喷了 (xiào pēn le), the closest English translation being "to burst out laughing". As this laughter continues, the familiar ache in your stomach rises as your 笑得肚子疼 (xiàode dùzi téng, belly laugh) rolls on. After a while, the oxygen supply to your brain begins to slow, and you need to stop. You stand up, but just cannot halt the guffaws, stooping over and 笑弯了腰 (xiào wān le yāo, to bend over laughing).

It is getting ridiculous, but the hysterics persist. You are now 笑得满地打滚儿 (xiàode mǎn dì dǎgǔnr, rolling on the floor) with laughter. You start to feel a little light-headed and might 笑晕了 (xiào yūn le, laugh so much that you pass out) or even worse, 笑得不行了 (xiàode bùxíng le, laugh so much that you think you might die).

Luckily, you survive. You dry your eyes, clear your throat, compose yourself and joke with your friends about how you almost died laughing, "我差点笑死了!" (wǒ chàdiǎn xiào sǐ le!). No worries though,it is healthy to 傻笑 (shǎxiào, laugh yourself silly).

Research by Alicia Zhang.

The World of Chinese

(China Daily 05/03/2013 page27)