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According to Wikipedia,

A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.

I considered calling them "梗" (gěng), but sometimes—especially on Taiwan—they're more likely to be called "迷因" (míyīn), which looks like it's just transcribing the pronunciation directly.

Is there any better translation for "meme"?

Thanks in advance.

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  • The answers below already covered the main ones. At least in Shanghai, they're generally 迷因 or 迷迷. I will just note that (a) the translations sections at Wiktionary are generally pretty good for Chinese and (b), any time they aren't and you get an answer here, it's a helpful public service to go code them in. Just hit edit and add * Chinese: *: Mandarin: {{t+|cmn|NNN|tr=pīnyīn}} on two separate lines. That lets someone add in the Cantonese &c. later if there are important differences.
    – lly
    Dec 17, 2022 at 15:20

4 Answers 4

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A fad is 时尚;一时流行的狂热, that is an idea or behavior spread by "meme" on the internet, so I consider it is a "罔潮" or "罔流". But both terms seem too old-styled and too formal, so maybe simply call it 迷迷, 取其既新奇又引人响往 - 迷一, 且時而撲朔迷離, 逗人深思進而模仿 - 迷二.

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Looks like it is translated as a loanword, in the same way as humour:

模因;
模仿传递行为(通过模仿等非遗传方式传递的行为)

It even has a science!

模因论揭示了人类文化传播的规律。
Memetics reveals the Law of Human Cultural Communication.

The word meme is not old, so unless the concept existed before 1976, you may search in vain for an equivalent in Chinese:

We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'. [Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene," 1976]

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  • Thanks a lot! I accpet @r13 's answer, but your answer also helped me to understand the "meme" Dec 13, 2021 at 1:09
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TL; DR: 梗 and 迷因 is similar but they have a little difference. Meme can be translated into these two different words depending on the context, and sometimes mixed.

The correct—but uncommon—word for 梗 is 哏, which originally meant a punchline in crosstalk (Xiangsheng). The meaning of 迷因 in Taiwan and the word 'meme' is the same. But some time a picture with meme and words (image macro) called 梗圖 too. (in China, it called 表情包, but the word is also used in Taiwan sometime.) According to the Chinese translation of The Selfish Gene that I have read, the meme was translated as 瀰, but the most common words on internet are 迷因 (Taiwan) and 模因 (China). Possibly because of the closedness of the internet, meme culture in China seens not as popular as Taiwan and other Chinese-speaking places, although 表情包 is very common in China.

If you try google translate, you will find that meme will be translated as 模因 (google translate always uses term of Chinese mainland whenever you choose traditional or simplified Chinese, ironically it has ended their operations in mainland.), but sometimes it will be translated as 梗, and 梗 will also be translated as meme. Simply put, if you can't find a funny place in a picture, you will ask "梗在哪裡?". If your friend sent you a video of never gonna give you up, you'd say "這是個有趣的迷因"

I hope this helps you :)

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美咩,本来就是抽象,就得抽象的翻译。 美咩, pronounced is "měi cmiē",美 is beautiful, and 咩 is a sound made by sheep.

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