24 December 2010

Say No to English!

On Monday, the General Administration of Press and Publishing, the body that controls China’s media, said it would crack down on the use of foreign words and acronyms because it has said that foreign languages, particularly English, have diluted the Chinese language and have had “an unhealthy social impact”. This means that the names of foreign people must be translated into Chinese. The media would no longer be able to say “Obama”, they must say “奧巴馬 Àobāmǎ”. It also means acronyms will have to be translated into Chinese. However, there are no acronyms in Chinese, so they would have to say their full names instead.

Many Chinese have joked about the new rules, as minor decrees such as these often go unenforced. One ironic part of the new law is that CCTV (Chinese Central Television)  will no longer be able to use its acronym and instead they must say “中國中央電視台 or Zhōngguó zhōngyāng diànshìtái” every. single. time. They also couldn’t use CCP or CPC, they would have to say “中國共產黨 or Zhōngguó gòngchǎndǎng” every time as well. TCG would have to be called “中方傢伙 or Zhōngfāng jiāhuo” or any of the other 10,000 translations of the phrase “the Chinese guy”. It takes long enough to say it in English, but thats what acronyms are for! Zhu Xueqin, a history professor at Shanghai University even said, “(The government) is so proud now as China’s economy is booming, they think foreigners ought to learn from us, we do not need to learn from them anymore.” Some people said they might as well ban Arabic numerals as well and replace them with Chinese numerals (although Chinese numerals are not at all difficult). 

There are also some words that simply have no translation. You tell me how to say “iPhone” in Chinese without saying ‘i’. 


  1. Go go google translate.
    I think I'd call it "苹果手机," or "Apple Phone." I suppose you could do like Chinese did for modern science terms and dig the etymology to produce something like "网络电话."
    Something tells me it'll just be transcribed, "爱手机." Lame.

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  3. That's cute, in a way. I believe that France tried to do something similar, even going as far as to invent their own words for things like the mp3 player or the iPod.