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Firefly–Serenity Chinese Pinyinary
Chinese translations with standard Hanyu Pinyin romanization and Chinese characters for Firefly the TV series and Serenity the movie and comic books

Chinese Dialog

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[offensive] to f***; [literally: to do]


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Gau3saang1 hai6tung2 gu3zoeng3. Gim2caa4 joeng5hei3 gung1jing3. [Not Mandarin (see Notes 1 and 2 below)]


[second word of spoken Cantonese, hai6tung2, doesn’t match the script Mandarin, yong4ju4 (see Note 1 below)]

gau3saang1 hai6tung2 gu3zoeng3

a lifesaving-system breakdown

  1. gau3saang1 hai6tung2: a lifesaving system
    1. gau3saang1: lifesaving
      1. gau3: to save, to rescue
      2. saang1: life
    2. hai6tung2: a system [Mandarin pronunciation: xi4tong3: a system; xi4: a system; tong3 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: a system]
      1. hai6: a system
      2. tung2: from generation to generation
  2. gu3zoeng3: a breakdown, a glitch
    1. gu3: an incident
    2. zoeng3: an obstacle

gim2caa4 joeng5hei3 gung1jing3

check oxygen supply

  1. gim2caa4: to inspect
    1. gim2: to inspect
    2. caa4: to check
  2. joeng5hei3 gung1jing3: oxygen supply
    1. joeng5hei3: oxygen (O2 gas)
      1. joeng5: [chemistry] oxygen (element with symbol O)
      2. hei3: gas [noun]
    2. gung1jing3: a supply
      1. gung1: to supply
      2. jing3: to respond

Mandarin Version

[second word of script Mandarin, yong4ju4, doesn’t match the spoken Cantonese, hai6tung2 (see Note 1 below)]

Jiu4sheng1 yong4ju4 gu4zhang4. Jian3cha2 yang3qi4 gong1ying4. (phonetic for English speakers: Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin. [sic]) 救生用具故障。检查氧气供应。 (traditional: 救生用具故障。檢查氧氣供應。)

Lifesaving-equipment failure. Check oxygen supply. (Script: Life support failure. Check oxygen levels at once.)

jiu4sheng1 yong4ju4 gu4zhang4

a lifesaving-equipment breakdown

  1. jiu4sheng1 yong4ju4: lifesaving equipment, life preservers
    1. jiu4sheng1: lifesaving [+NOUN] (especially from drowning)
      1. jiu4: to save, to rescue
      2. sheng1 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: life (in general), existence
    2. yong4ju4: an appliance [Cantonese pronunciation: jung6geoi6: an appliance; jung6: to use, to operate; geoi6: a tool]
      1. yong4: to use, to operate
      2. ju4 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: a tool
  2. gu4zhang4: a breakdown, a failure
    1. gu4 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: an incident
    2. zhang4 [used only in compound words]: an obstruction

jian3cha2 yang3qi4 gong1ying4

check oxygen supply

  1. jian3cha2: to check, to inspect (an I.D. [identity card], luggage, etc.)
    1. jian3: to check, to inspect
    2. cha2: to check, to inspect
  2. yang3qi4 gong1ying4: oxygen supply
    1. yang3qi4: oxygen (O2 gas)
      1. yang3: [chemistry] oxygen (element with symbol O)
      2. qi4: gas
    2. gong1ying4: to supply, a supply
      1. gong1: to supply
      2. ying4 [used only in compound words]: to respond (to a situation / to a call for help)


  1. Cantonese: When “Out of Gas” first aired, there was a lot of fan discussion about why the computer warnings were in Cantonese instead of the usual Mandarin. When asked about this, Firefly Chinese translator Jenny Lynn responded:

    I hate to demystify it, putting end to all the China-Hong Kong political debate and conspiracy theories, but here is the real explanation: Even though I loaned my voice as a guide for the temporary audio in the editor’s cut, they couldn’t use my voice because I wasn’t a member of the Screen Actors Guild. The post-production department uses a loop group—actors to do voiceover work to fill in audio for crowd noise, dialogue replacement, or in this case, the Serenity computer. So, the associate producer requested a Mandarin Chinese actress to re-dub the lines, but the actress who took the microphone that day spoke the lines in Cantonese. Nobody caught it until I and everybody else heard it when the episode aired. I brought up the discrepancy with the producers the next day and for subsequent episodes, I joined the actor’s guild and did the background voiceovers whenever they called for Mandarin, just so there’d be no slip up.

    (Jenny Lynn, questionnaire answer in E-mail attachment to author, November 11, 2004)

    The voice actor also either got a different version of the script than was published or else substituted gau3saang1 hai6tung2 (Mandarin pronunciation: jiu4sheng1 xi4tong3) ‘lifesaving system’, for gau3saang1 jung6geoi6 (Mandarin pronunciation: jiu4sheng1 yong4ju4) ‘lifesaving equipment’, ‘life preservers’. Thank you to a Firefly fan for the hai6tung2/xi4tong3 and jung6geoi6/yong4ju4, including their Chinese characters.

  2. Pronunciation: The N for standard NG (gong yin for gong1ying4) is Taiwan Mandarin pronunciation (FAQ).

  3. Also: sheng1ming4 bao3zhang4 xi4tong3 生命保障系统 (traditional: 生命保障系統 ): a life-support system (for astronauts); sheng1ming4 bao3zhang4: protection of life (sheng1ming4: life [sheng1 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: life (in general), existence; ming4: life]; bao3zhang4: to safeguard, protection [bao3 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: to protect (life, civil rights, etc.); zhang4 [used only in compound words]: to safeguard]); xi4tong3: a system (xi4: a system; tong3 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: a system)

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ge5 zhen1 de5 hun2dan4!

ge5 zhen1 de5

a real

  1. ge5: [general classifier for nouns]
  2. zhen1 de5: to be real, to be true
    1. zhen1: to be real, to be true
    2. de5: [noun-modifier marker] [here: integrated adjectival clause (restrictive relative clause)]


[insult] [offensive] a scoundrel, a bastard (nonliteral)

  1. hun2: to be stupid, to be foolish
  2. dan4: [word used in insults of people]; [literally: an egg]

See also:

  • hun2dan4 (“Serenity, Part 2,” “Bushwhacked,” “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” Serenity: Those Left Behind #1)
  • Ta1ma1 de5 hun2dan4. (“War Stories”)

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gen1 hou2zi5 bi3 diu1 shi3

gen1 hou2zi5

with a monkey

  1. gen1: with
  2. hou2zi5: a monkey
    1. hou2: a monkey
    2. zi5: [suffix to make noun two syllables]

bi3 diu1 shi3

to compete throwing excrement

  1. bi3: to compete, a contest
  2. diu1: to throw
  3. shi3: excrement, dung

See also:

  • gou3shi3 (“Shindig,” “Safe” [Cut], “Out of Gas,” “The Message” [Cut], Serenity [novelization])
  • hou2zi5 de5 pi4gu5! (“Trash”)
  • Liu2 kou3shui3 de5 biao3zi5 he2 hou2zi5 de5 ben4 er2zi5. (“Safe”)
  • niu2shi3 (“War Stories”)
  • qiang2bao4 hou2zi5 de5 (“Trash”)
  • zheng1qi4 de5 gou3shi3dui1 (“Our Mrs. Reynolds” [Cut])

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gou3 cao4 de5

gou3 cao4 de5

[offensive] dog-f***ed, that a dog f***ed

  1. gou3: a dog
  2. cao4: [offensive] to f***
  3. de5: [noun-modifier marker] [here: integrated adjectival clause (restrictive relative clause)]


  1. Chinese character: The character (cao1 ‘to speak (a language)’ and less commonly cao4 [for this meaning, used only in compound words] ‘to make trouble’) is used as a replacement character for the offensive character . The character (cao4 [offensive] ‘to f***’) is often not used because the combination of its parts is visually explicit: ru4 [used only in compound words] ‘to enter’ and rou4flesh’ [noun].
  2. The captions (region 1 DVD) completely omit this term.

See also:

  • qing1wa1 cao4 de5 liu4mang2 (“Ariel”)

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Gou4 huang1tang2.


to be enough


to be ridiculous, to be absurd

  1. huang1: to be ridiculous, to be absurd
  2. tang2 [used only in compound words (or as a dynasty/family name)]: exaggerated

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[insult] [offensive] crap (a worthless thing); [literally: [offensive] dog dung]

  1. gou3: a dog
  2. shi3: excrement, dung


  1. Gou3shi3 meaning: For (4): Both English, with the word crap, and Modern Standard Mandarin (Putonghua), with the word gou3shi3, have one word that literally means ‘dung’ and figuratively means ‘worthless thing.’ Thus, Atherton’s above use of gos se [crap] to insult the ship Serenity. English also uses Crap! (‘Damn!’) as an interjection, but Mandarin doesn’t use gou3shi3 like that. Inara’s follow-up Oh gos se [crap] doesn’t work because for that meaning she would have to switch to, e.g., ai1ya1 哎呀 : [interjection for shock, regret, or distress], Oh!, Oh my!, Ah!, Damn!; ai1: [interjection for surprise, regret, or distress], Oh!, Ah!; ya1: [interjection for surprise], Oh!, Ah!
  2. Cut: In (5) the Chinese word was replaced by the English word.
  3. In (1, 2, 3, 4, 6) Atherton, Inara, and the Captain (of pirate ship) sound like “go-suh.” The captions have go-se on the region 1 DVD.

See also:

  • gen1 hou2zi5 bi3 diu1 shi3 (“Heart of Gold”)
  • zheng1qi4 de5 gou3shi3dui1 (“Our Mrs. Reynolds” [Cut])

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Gu1yang2zhong1 de5 gu1yang2.

gu1yang2zhong1 de5

among orphaned goats

  1. gu1yang2: an orphaned goat
    1. gu1 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: orphaned
    2. yang2: a sheep, a goat
  2. zhong1: [suffix] among
  3. de5: [noun-modifier marker] [here: possessive (genitive), ’s, of]


an orphaned goat

  1. gu1 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: orphaned
  2. yang2: a sheep, a goat


  • Wash sounds like “Go yang jong duh goo yang” instead of Goo yang jong duh goo yang.

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Guai1guai5 long2 di5 dong1!

guai1guai5 long2 di5 dong1

[regional idiomatic exclamation for surprise]

  1. guai1guai5: [colloquial] Good gracious!
    1. guai1: [repeated with neutral 5th tone] to be well-behaved
  2. long2 di5 dong1: [transliteration for expression in another variety of Chinese]
    1. long2: [phonetically used Chinese character]; [literally: [used only in compound words] glorious, prosperous]
    2. di5 [regional pronunciation of de5]: [phonetically used Chinese character]; [literally: [various grammatical uses]]
    3. dong1: [phonetically used Chinese character]; [literally: east]


  1. According to some websites (e.g., forum.wordreference.com), this is a common colloquial expression in the (East China) regional language varieties of Jiangsu province, China (such as the cities of Nanjing and Yangzhou), and many different Chinese characters are used phonetically to transliterate each of the final three syllables.
  2. Also: guai1guai1/guai1guai5: [colloquial] my darling (child)

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Guan3 ni3 zi4ji3 de5 shi4.

guan3 ni3 zi4ji3 de5 shi4

Mind your own business

  1. guan3: to mind, to bother about
  2. ni3 zi4ji3 de5: your own (singular)
    1. ni3 zi4ji3: you yourself (singular)
      1. ni3: you (singular)
      2. zi4ji3: oneself, one’s own
        1. zi4: oneself, one’s own
        2. ji3 [for this meaning, used only in compound words]: oneself
    2. de5: [noun-modifier marker] [here: possessive (genitive), ’s, of]
  3. shi4: matters, business

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a ghost, a demon


  • The captions (region 1 DVD) incorrectly have What do… instead of “What the guay do….”

See also:

  • Jian4 ta1 de5 gui3! (“Safe”)
  • niao4 shi1 de5 du3gui3 (“Heart of Gold”)

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Ying2huo3chong2–Ning2jing4 Zhong1wen2 Pin1yin1-dian3
Firefly–Serenity Chinese Pinyinary