Who is NPY?

In the blogosphere, there’s bf and boyf. I’ve seen “The Boy” become “The Husband”. There’s “Hubby”. I liked best TGILW (the guy I live with) except that doesn’t apply to me.

So I came up with NPY the acronym for 男朋友, meaning “boyfriend” in Chinese. As a Cantonese speaker, I know it as “nam pung yao” and, conveniently, I can use the same acronym off the Mandarin (pinyin), “nán péngyou”.

Not being cool or current about my Chinese–I was very classically educated–I only have a feeling that creating acronyms is somewhat common practice thereby making life easier on Chinese people learning English and navigating the connected world using American keyboards. I’m also tempted to cut corners and use acronyms for places: HK for Hong Kong, TW for Taiwan, GZ for Guangzhou, even TLT for Toronto? And for easier Chinese input using Western keyboards combined with the character limit of text messages I think some others are rising, such as xx (thank you, xiexie), nh (how are you, nihao), and hpy (good friend, hao péngyou).

Although I have an NPY, I’m also an NPY since 女朋友 is pronounced “nuy pung yao” in Cantonese and “nǚ péngyǒu” in Mandarin.

On one hand, calling him NPY is a constant reminder of the (fleeting?) Chinese value that an NPY is more serious than a “boyfriend”. Practically speaking, it’s a generic name and since I don’t talk about NPY every day, you wouldn’t really know if I got a new one because he would just be called NPY as well….

One of our favourite moments coming from the NPY name was when his friend saw me use it and wondered what it meant. I told him it referred to our mutual friend and before I told him the Chinese link to the name, he wondered if it stood for “Neil Patrick Yharris”. I think a LOL is deserved here.

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