New Words Added in China

Note: This is an interesting phenomen –  officially adding ‘slang words’ to the official language by a Chinese government agency.

BEIJING, Sept. 17 — Rapid social change, Western pop culture and the use of English have prompted education authorities to add 171 terms to the national language registry, including those that describe mortgage slaves and loose marital arrangements.

    Economic reforms and soaring rates of home ownership have produced a new name for those young people struggling to pay off home loans in traditionally debt-wary China: fangnu, or “house slaves.”

    And young, married professionals who live in separate homes to keep the romance alive and maintain their own space are being called “Semi-honey couples” (bantang fuqi), according to education officials.

    “(The new terms) reflect the rapid cultural and social changes in recent years as well as thriving new concepts in our daily lives,” said Li Yuming, the senior official at the Ministry of Education in charge of standardizing the use of modern Chinese language.

    The new terms were registered after two years researching more than 900 million commonly used words and phrases in Chinese, the Xinhua news agency reported, adding that they showed how pervasive Western movies and the English language had become.

    Young Chinese moving in fashionable circles often drop phrases like duanbei (“brokeback”) to euphemistically refer to homosexuals.

    “Brokeback Mountain” was an Oscar-award winning film by Taiwanese director Ang Lee about a love affair between two cowboys in the United States.

    The emergence of city-dwelling couples choosing a pet over children had seen the use of dingchong jiating in Chinese, or “DINKS with pets” in English.

    DINK – the acronym for “double income no kids” – was coined in the 1980s to describe couples who eschewed children in favor of lifestyle and financial advancement.

    “I have not had much Chinese language training since my middle school years and now English is the predominantly important course,” Xinhua quoted Xie Lei, a journalism student at a Shanghai university.

    The “wild creativity” in naming children in modern China was in part a response to the staid, politicized names favored at the height of China’s “cultural revolution” (1966-1976) when names such as “Wei Dong” – “guarding Chairman Mao” were in vogue, the Xinhua report said.

SOURCE: Shanghai Daily

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