Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top





Brief translation:

It's common to hear rhyming filler words without a relevant meaning being used in doggerel/jingles, especially in Northern China dialects and traditional Beijing/Tianjin storytelling and cross talk performances. I am wondering if there are linguistic terminologies, theories or reading materials around this.

(The example is a Beijing doggerel. The point won't hold after translation.)

share|improve this question
This sounds very similar to a rhyming slang, in which a word or phrase is replaced with another nonsensical and totally unrelated phrase that rhymes with it. It is different from what you described in that words from a rhyming slang replace their original counterparts instead of acting as filler words. For example, in Cockney rhyming slang of East London, I'm going up the apples and pears = I'm going up the stairs. – deutschZuid Nov 2 '12 at 3:57
@JamesJiao didn't know that, very interesting. Even more interesting is they then omit the rhyming part to encrypt the message, like Pig Latin but much more advanced. – NS.X. Nov 2 '12 at 15:44
For the syllable filling part, 衬词 inserted words in most folk songs is worth discussion, too. – Nihil Nov 2 '12 at 16:17
@JamesJiao In Cockney rhyming slang, AFAIU, the apples and pears that you mention will even drop out in favor of the non-rhyming word, to become "I'm going up the apples"! – Kang Ming Nov 2 '12 at 16:47
Yes, @KangMing, a well-known example is blowing a raspberry. I recently learned the origin of that term is "raspberry tart", which rhymes with "fart". – Don Kirkby Nov 5 '12 at 17:33

Regarding "The point won't hold after translation", maybe the words in this poem are relevant:

See you later, alligator!

After while, crocodile!

In an hour, sunflower!

Maybe two, kangaroo!

Gotta go, buffalo!

Adios, hippos!

Chow, chow, brown cow!

See you soon, baboon!

Adieu, cockatoo!

Better swish, jellyfish.

Chop chop, lollipop.

Gotta run, skeleton!

Bye-bye, butterfly!

Better shake, rattle snake.

Our school day now ends.

So, good-bye, good friends!

share|improve this answer
Interesting. Also reminds me of the lyrics of Twelve Days of Christmas. – NS.X. May 10 '13 at 18:38

There are no meaning of these words,just to make them sounds better.There are no rules of adding words to make sentences more beautiful or poem more rhyming,as I know, just depends the need.sometimes the word doesn't read as it's original pronunciation,to make doggerel or song sound better,This can find in JINGJU:Beijing Opera.



“咱“should read as "zán".but in the Opera it read as "zá",with melody.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.