For the record I support China’s efforts to limit this kind of preposterous linguistic nonsense; some Chinglish terms are simply insufferable abominations of language. And before anybody starts screaming about “freedom of speech” and how uniquely horrible the Chinese government is to regulate this kind of thing, note the calibrated measures that the government is taking. Furthermore, the French government also has an censorship agency to keep the French language free of similar defilement by foreign inputs. A problem with the article is that it’s about a measure to control Chinglish, yet it mixes up Chinglish examples with those of newly-coined Chinese terms which have no relation to English at all. – Zuo Shou 左手
December 25, 2010
Chinese netizens who like to create and use cyber words such as “geilivable” might find a new regulation very “ungeilivable”.
The new regulation by the General Administration of Press and Publication earlier this week banned the use of Chinglish buzzwords created by netizens for publishing in the Chinese language.
An unnamed official with the administration said that the regulation was aimed to purify the Chinese language.
“Geilivable”, combining pinyin of Chinese characters Geili (giving strength) with the English suffix for adjectives, literally means “giving power” or “cool”.
Different suffixes and prefixes were added to the word. “Hengeilivable” means “very cool”, and “ungeilivable” means “dull, not cool at all”.
Cyber language was popular among Chinese netizens, who created English words to reflect novel phenomenon [sic] in society.
One example was “antizen”, which referred to the group of college graduates who, earning a meager salary and living in small rented apartments, were like the tiny and laborious ants.
A “government” with “corruption” was “goveruption”.
“Niubility” was the pinyin of Niubi (a slang to say excellent) plus a suffix to make it a noun.
“Smilence” means smile but keep in silence, an attitude people take to comment on an issue which already has drawn consensus.
“Foulsball” showed the anger of netizens towards the woeful Chinese soccer affected by match-fixing, crooked referees, and illegal gambling.
“Emotionormal” came out with the media cliche, saying people are “emotionally stable” rather than outraged.
“Corpspend” was derived from the issue last year. Three college students died in central China’s Hubei Province while saving two drowning children, then fishermen tied the bodies to a boat to ask a high price for their recovery.
“Suihide” came from the death of a man in a detention center in the southwestern Yunnan Province. Police said he died after playing hide-and-seek with inmates, but this conclusion seemed doubtful.
David Tool, a professor with the Beijing International Studies University, first heard the word from his students. “They let me guess its meaning and I knew it was a kind of capability,” he said.
He said it very interesting to combine Chinese with English to create new words. “English is no longer mysterious to the Chinese people. They can use the language in a flexible way according to their own experiences,” Tool said.
Sergey Dmitriev, a senior student from Russia studying international politics at Liaoning University, believed the words are a way to learn more about Chinese society.
“In Russia, similar words were created, as well,” he said, adding that creation of the English words showed greater influence and more of an opening of China to the world.
Chinese words and expressions were created, as well, by netizens.
One example was “Suan Ni Hen”. This three-character expression originally meant “you win” and the first character carried the same pronunciation as garlic in Chinese. Netizens used it to satirize soaring garlic and food prices this winter.
“My father is Li Gang” was already known, even to some foreigners. It was first said by a drunk 22-year-old hit-and-run driver. Netizens worked it into classical poetry, jokes and ballads to vent their fury over the vicious behavior of the privileged and the children of power and wealth.
Chinese people use the character “bei” prior to a verb to show a passive voice, and it was used by netizens to show the helplessness in front of false conclusions and fake media reports. For instance, “zisha” means “suicide” while “beizisha” means “be officially presumed to have committed suicide”, and “xiaokang” means “fairly comfortable life” while “beixiaokang” means “be said to be living a fairly comfortable life”.
Some of these words and expressions were even picked up in serious media reports.
On November 10, China’s broadsheet, the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, carried a front-page news story with the headline “Jiangsu geilivable cultural province”.
Although some netizens doubted the usage of the word, as “geilivable” was supposed to be an adjective rather than a verb, they hailed it as progress for the serious newspaper.
“This is a small step in the cyber world, but a giant leap in Chinese language,” said a netizen with the nickname Sheshangjun.
Another netizen, Yang Huatao, said, “I read the newspaper more carefully this time than in several months.”
Wu Zhongmin, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, saw the phenomenon of word creation as a natural response to young people to social issues.
“Cyber language is more vivid and it shortens people’s distances,” he said.
At the mentioning of the regulation by the General Administration of Press and Publication, netizens expressed their concern.
“The administration is totally ‘ungeilivable’,” said a netizen named laoda1713. “I know other netizens would shed tears with me…it is a good chance to enrich our language.”
“Language is always developing,” said a columnist, Wang Pei. “It needs to be updated to absorb foreign culture and folk wisdom.”
But an unnamed official with the administration said that, in fact, many senior staff from news media who supported the regulation were worried that years later, the younger generation would forget how to use formal Chinese expressions.
The official also pointed out that the regulation was only for publication of the Chinese language, and it only banned English, or Chinglish, to be exact, words in the publication.
“The use of ‘geilivable’ in People’s Daily, for example, is OK, so long as people see it as ‘geilivable’,” the official said.
(Xinhua writers Ren Liying from Hebei, Wang Ying from Liaoning, Cao Yan from Sichuan, and interns Chuai Xiaoyu, Ma Haiyang contributed to the story.)