Pinyin (Simplified): liang heng, yi shu, gan
Translation: Two horizontal, one vertical, fight!
G is a Chinese international student from Anhui Province, Hefei City in China. During high school, he played in a soccer team.
G: “It’s about my soccer team in high school. It’s what we do before game. It’s a like slogan that we do before a game. Every player comes and together to form a circle and we put our hands together and we yell it. And the slogan goes “两横，一竖，干！” It’s not really a good translation, it’s like fighting but not in a good way. We’re using it positively but not in a good way. It’s almost near “f**k” but it’s a positive way we’re using it.”
There is an interesting juxtaposition to be mentioned with the positive denotation of such a negatively connoted word in this chant. This folk phrase, or folk chant is said for good luck and to release tension. It invokes a feeling of unity and comradery between players, which completely changes the meaning of the word in this specific context and therefore, changes the tone of the chant. On the surface level, it is merely a saying that describes how to write the word “干“ in Mandarin. The word itself, as G describes, means something negative and almost taboo whenever spoken aloud in a social setting different from this one. Perhaps because of the presence of the specific competitive sport team-player like atmosphere and tension about competing at all, this phrase seems to take the aggression of the phrase and repurpose into a chant of good luck and release of nerves. The act of doing it with fellow team members joins this community together and that they have something to share strengthens their bond. The meaning changes once it is uttered aloud in this context, making this folklore exclusive to this group of people and therefore only understandable to those who can understand the context that it is said in. This phrase has the exclusive purpose of bringing good luck and releasing tension similar to that of a charm.