Shanghaiist reported earlier about the Shanghai authorities’ attempts to set the language house in order — less internet slang in schools and other public places, more Mandarin and less Shanghainese, no English signs unless there is Chinese as well, and, to our surprise, restricted use of complex or traditional Chinese characters. This law is in effect as of March 1, and has spurred bit of controversy.
We found this article (in Chinese) that explains many of the new internet slang words. Someone put out an internet slang dictionary, just as the official guardians of the Chinese language declared that no new slang words would be included in their new Chinese dictionary editions. Apparently, all this touches a nerve among those who worry that the Chinese language is being Europeanized or Anglicized or circumcised or something. We don’t see what the fuss is about. Consider the Chinese word for “society” — 社会 or she hui — great word, we think, useful in many everyday situations. Chinese word, right? Wrong. Japanese. Chinese has borrowed words from other languages.
Of course, China isn’t the only country doing this. France recently got rid of the term “e-mail” and replaced it with “courriel“. Shanghaiist has to say that one of the things we like about English is that fact that is a mongrel of a language — Latin, Greek, French, Germanic languages, and heck, even our favorite, Yiddish. “Nebbish” and “kvetching” are among the greatest words on the planet, in any language. The other cent in our two cents worth: why bother insisting on the purity of the language when the entire lifestyle and culture are becoming more globalized and homogenous? You tell kids not to use “-ing” after Chinese words to express the present progressive tense in websites, but then you tell them to learn English from the time they’re three years old because otherwise they can’t get into good universities or get good jobs and talk to foreigners with good manners.
None of this excuses a person from learning their language to a high level of proficiency, but somehow we don’t feel all the knee-jerk cultural conservatism is warranted. That’s just so BC! (See second link). We like our internet slang, 3Q very much!
 OK, that’s not Chinese internet slang. Our friend Kevin made that one up.
Image from www.canadiancontent.ca.