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I have been watching a TV program << 父母爱情 >> and a rather unsophisticated female character keeps repeating a phrase which I hear as '我的个娘' (I'm not sure if the '的' should be there or not?)

It's obviously a type of exclamation, presumably similar to 'Oh my God!'. Does it actually just translate to 'my mother!' and why would that be an exclamation of surprise?

Also, is this a regional phrase? The character is living in Shandong province but is a military wife so could presumably be meant to be from a different province.

Lastly, is this something a foreigner could use unironically without seeming ridiculous?

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Yes, you are right. 我的个娘 is just like oh my God. Chinese people don't curse their Gods, but do with their mothers, for example, 干你娘,草你妈,while these two phrases mean xxx your mother, but they also can be used to empathize the following sentence. For example, 干你奶奶的,他真有钱。xxx your grandmother, he is very rich. Obviously, the speaker doesn't necessary want to xxx your grandmother. What he want to expect is that person is super-duper rich!!! Nothing to do with grandma or xxx here. You can think 我的个娘 as "damn it". This is not really regional because other region has the same phrase like that but in other words. For example, in GuangDong and HongKong, people use 你老母,different words, same meaning. Lastly, as a foreigner, you should just use OMG because your mother is not Chinese. It makes no sense to use 你的个娘 for exclamation!!

  • Thanks, I'm curious, why does it matter whether my mother is Chinese or not? Can the word 娘 only apply to a Chinese woman? – James Hill May 11 '17 at 20:49
  • It's awkward for a Chinese to say oh Jesus because he/she probably doesn't even know who Jesus is, not to say believing in Jesus himself. so the phrase oh my god really means nothing to a Chinese person. Chinese Version of OMG is "我的天啊", which means "Oh my sky". See? There is no God for Chinese. Same thing apply to foreigners. It's just ridiculous to use 我的个娘 since your mother has always been your mother, but never been your 娘。 – Atmega 328 May 11 '17 at 20:56
  • Ok, I think I understand, it's because 娘 is the child's word for mother and has a special meaning; it's not an objective word like 'mother' but has an emotional significance, just like 'mam' or 'mummy' might have for an English speaker? – James Hill May 11 '17 at 21:06

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