Baidu defines it literally as "not directly engaging with [someone/thing] when talking, rather talking with no person in mind." I'm curious whether it can be close to how we say in English, "[two parties] are talking past each other" and or simply "talking to yourself".

Here are some examples I've dredged up that illustrates some different usages:

  1. Two sides - "not directly engaging with each other": 张馨予在微博大发感慨...15分钟后,前男友李晨也发了条微博:“What should I do?”(我该怎么办?)两条微博一前一后,不免让网友浮想联翩,纷纷猜测:“这是隔空喊话吗?...”
  2. Two sides - "talking past each other"?: 中越海上问题高度复杂敏感,隔空喊话只会引发民意波动,双方应全力避免...要靠协商对话管控分歧和矛盾。(fairly significant omissions here, but I don't think it violates the logic)
  3. One side - "talking to thin air"?: 日本首相安倍晋三自上台以来,一直在隔空喊话:“日本对话的门从来都是敞开着的,我们盼望与中国、与韩国举行首脑会谈,哪怕是在国际场合的走廊见一面也行”。乍听起来,真有一股非见不可的感觉。可细一琢磨,却如同嚼蜡,根本不是那么一回事。

(1) Seems to be the usage explained in Baidu. I can't think of a pat-ter way to translate "not directly engaging with each other" though.

In (2), the Baidu sense seems collapse, since they're not really talking to each other at all. So it almost seems as if it could be translated "China and Vietnam should stop talking past each other in [their independent] efforts to stir up public opinion" - is this the correct interpretation, or if not, what does the phrase mean there? I'm not even sure that's the right way for me to be using "talking past each other"!

In (3), what exactly is Prime Minister Abe doing? This sort of sounds like the whole "talking to thin air" thing from the Baidu definition, but it doesn't make sense to translate this way into English, and you can't say Abe is "talking to himself" like a crazy person, either.

  • *pat-ter way* --- do you mean better?
    – Mou某
    Jan 4, 2015 at 15:21
  • I mean pat-ter and better- I felt like making a pun implying an equivalence between "more pat" and "better" (off of how "patter" and "better" sound like each other) even though said pun risks getting me arrested by the Chinese government for linguistic licentiousness.;) Jan 4, 2015 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


According to the examples you provided:

  1. Two parties seem to respond and talk to each other but actually not. They say something one after another which looks as if it's on topic, but in fact the things are attached to the same topic literally.
  2. Express some opinion that can lead the consensus, or just talk to the public related to one party itself, without condisering the other and the two-party conversation.
  3. Pretend to express something but actually not have that in mind, not sincere. Or 说空话.

I think it's not easy to find an accurate English counterpart. It's something like only seemingly talk to the other party but with some purpose (involved in other topics, or even be malicious) in mind.


I think the closest phrase in English is "send a message".

In your examples: First one is "are they sending messages to each other?" Second one is "should avoid sending such messages" Third one is "keep sending messages"


It can be used literally to mean "converse by shouting to someone who is some distance away". E.g. 武汉,一位爷爷隔离一个月没见孙子,守候楼下,隔空喊话孙子,... (In this instance, the man stood on the street, shouting up to his grandson who called back from a window several floors up. Due to COVID, he couldn't enter the child's apartment.)

More often, it means saying something that you want people who are not in your presence to hear. Often, it's a politician, giving a speech or tweeting, criticizing someone else: 中国国务委员兼外交部长王毅向美国隔空喊话,强调“中美关系不能再恶化下去”。

But it can also be something like this: 此外,珍妮佛罗培兹更点名未婚夫「小班」班艾佛列克(Ben Affleck),并隔空喊话,「班和家里其他的人,等我回家吃晚饭,我7点以前就会到家了~」甜蜜放闪羡煞众人。 This was when Jennifer Lopez gave fiancé Ben Affleck a shout out at the end of a tearful award acceptance speech: "Ben and everyone in the house, wait for me for dinner – I’ll be home by 7 o’clock!"

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