Martian language

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Martian language (Chinese: 火星文pinyin: huǒxīng wén; literally "the language of Martians"; "Martian Script": 吙☆魰) is a term to describe words beyond common knowledge in the Chinese speaking cyberspace. The term was popularised by a quote from the 2001 Hong Kong comedy film Shaolin Soccer, in which Stephen Chow tells Zhao Wei: "Go back to Mars, the Earth is so dangerous." Since then, people who seem strange to local culture are often referred to as Martians in cyberspace[1], and strange Internet slang words are often called words in the Martian language.

In the 2006 Taiwanese national College Entrance Examination, students were asked to interpret symbols and phrases written in "Martian language" (orz)[2], and the controversies followed forced the testing center to abandon the practice in future exams[3].

In 2007, "Martian language" began to be popular in mainland China. The first adopters of "Martian language" mainly consisted of After-Ninety (means born in the 1990s) netizens. They use it in their nicknames, short messages and in chatting rooms in order to demonstrate personality differences. Later they found that their teachers and parents could hardly figure out their new language, which very quickly became their secret tools to communicate with each others.

The "Martian language" became so popular in cyberspace that even some software were created to translate between Chinese and "Martian language".

Chinese internet bloggers followed up the trend to use "Martian language", because they found that their blog posts written in the new language can easily pass internet censorship engines, which are currently based on text-matching techniques.


  1. . For example, when commenting on the possible blocking of Hotmail, one is quoted as "I can only conclude that the person in charge of this is considering it from a Martian point of view." [1].
  2. "Martian language" banned in Taiwanese college entrance exam
  3. Exam body agrees to omit 'Martian' from college exam

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