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OS, VCR, DM – Usage of abbreviations in Taiwan


In Taiwan, people use English words on a daily basis, a large portion of which have been introduced from the Japanese. The roman alphabet is also in common use. Its usage includes internet and texting slang (3Q for thank you), writing morphemes for which their isn’t a widely accepted character (Q for  meaning chewy), and also some standard abbreviations (DVD, VCD). More interesting still is the use of English abbreviations in a way which would be incorrect in English and below I list three such usages.

DM: leaflet or brochure. Originating from Direct Marketing.


(Wǒ yào qù xuéxiào fā DM)

I’m going to the school to give out leaflets.


VCR: screen. Generally used in the context of a tv show host inviting his audience or guests to look at the screen in the studio as in the example below. Originating from Video Cassette Recorder.

要看她卸妝之前嗎? 請看VCR

(Yào kàn tā xièzhuāng zhīqián ma? Qǐng kàn VCR)

Do you want to see what she looked like before taking off the makeup? Take a look at the screen.


OS: refers to a soliloquy. This word’s popularity is most likely due to the sheer frequency that the technique is used in Asian TV soaps. Originating from Off Screen* (annotation on a script).


(Nǚshēng: Chuān zhè jiàn pìgu kàn qǐlái hěn dà ma?)

Girl: Does my bum look big in this?

男生:沒有啊! (心裡OS:妳明明知道很大,還要問)

(Nánshēng: Méiyǒu a! (Xīnlǐ OS: Nǐ míngmíng zhīdào hěn dà, hái yào wèn)

Guy: No! (Thinking to himself “You know it looks big so why ask”)


OS used in the daily speech is, I think, quite strange so I took a clip, which is in Taiwanese, that highlights the concept in a humorous way.

*Some sources say OS originates from the term Overlapping Sound.

From → Mandarin

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