Cultural Factoid of the Week!

Question: What do Chinese spectators cheer at sporting events?

Answer: If you listen closely at an Olympic event in Beijing, you may hear the Chinese crowd cheering, "Jia you! Jia you! Jia you!"

Translated literally, this phrase means "add oil." Translated roughly, this phrase means, "Go, go go!" or "Come on!" or "Faster, faster!" or anything else people say to cheer on their home team.

As I watch the Beijing Olympics, I'm often reminded of the athletic events at my Chinese school where my parents would sign me up for track events and tug-of-war. Even though I had no athletic abilities, my parents would cheer me all the way with the familiar "Jia you! Jia you! Jia you!" that Chinese people love to shout.

Of course, I never won any of my events---I was a slow and weak Asian kid with asthma. (Even slower and weaker and more asthmatic than my classmates!)

Ah, the memories...and oh, how I hated Chinese school.

*"Jia you" is pronounced "Jia yo." In the Chinese pinyin system, "ou" sounds like "oh." Strange, I know.