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“菜鸟 cài niǎo” is a popular word. Interally, it seems like some kind of bird we can eat. However it means something like rookie or newbie.
Now I'm gonna tell the story behind "菜鸟"：
1. "笨鸟 bèn niǎo" is the original word, which means a foolish bird or a stupid bird, while someone mistook "笨" as "菜". Then the word "菜鸟" has spreaded ever since.
2. Another idea is "菜鸟" derived from the NBA. The new players who have just joined in the NBA, we call them 菜鸟，which means someone has just joined in a team, or to accept new things, she/he needs a process to adjust to the new condition, we address this kind of people 菜鸟.
A: 你英语讲得怎么样？(Can you speak English well?)
B:我只是个菜鸟。(I'm just a beginner.)
If there is anything else you want to know, just tell me, happy to explain!:)
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