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Lewd car rides

开车 – kāichē – ‘lewd car rides’

Are you a passionate driver? You better not say that too loud, at least not in Chinese. Because while the dictionary only gives the innocuous translation “drive a car” when you type in the character combination 开车 kāichē (“steer – car”), another translation is already riding shotgun. In Chinese, driving a motor vehicle has recently become a synonym for “dropping lewd remarks” or “making suggestive innuendos”. But what do raunchy words have to do with fast cars? Stop. Before your mind drives off elsewhere, I better step on the brakes right now and tell you how the semantic story really came to be.

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