Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/10/chinese_net_slang/

Shanghai takes big stick to net slang

No more 'konglong' for you, sunshine

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 10th October 2005 13:28 GMT

The powers that be in Shanghai have taken a seat alongside the French on the linguistic shoreline waiting to order back the tide of lexicographical barbarisms which threaten their native tongues, official Chinese news reports confirm.

Of course, the French have been at it for years, reserving particular outrage for English words which continue to corrupt their lingo despite heroic efforts to dam the breach through which Satanic vocabulary still floods.

More recently, the internet has proved a capacious conduit through which pollution can flow, and it is this particular pipe which Shanghai intends to plug.

Xia Xiurong, chair of the Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, told the Shanghai Morning Post: "On the Web, Internet slang is convenient and satisfying, but the mainstream media have a responsibility to guide proper and standard language usage."

The problem is apparently that wild youth has taken to using terms such as "PK" (literally "player killer" = "one-to-one [gaming] competition"), the abbrevation "MM" for "girl" and the delicious "konglong" (literally "dinosaur") for unattractive woman.

Phrases are taking a pasting too, with "bu yao" (don't want) reduced to the shocking "biao" in net parlance.

It all seems pretty innocent, but the media too has warmed to these neologisms which have even appeared in newspaper headlines - not a big deal except in France and now Shanghai.

The Chinese take their "Putonghua" - aka Chinese Mandarin - pretty seriously. Accordingly, draft "Regulations of Shanghai on Implementing the Law on the National Use of Language and Script" are currently before the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress for scrutiny.

If passed they will restrict the civil service, public bodies and the media to using just Putonghua and Chinese characters. Furthermore, net slang will be purged from classrooms and official publications.

Xia explained: "Our nation's language needs to develop, but it also needs to be regulated. Not everyone understands these popular slang terms. When they appear in the mainstream media without explanation, many older people have a hard time understanding the true meaning."

Back in April, Nanjing launched a similar clampdown on web argot, including "PLMM" ("piao liang mei mei" = "beautiful girl") and "GG" (boy). The annual conference of the Nanjing's Working Committee of Spoken and Written Language pronounced that these abbrevations, among others would be forbidden in written schoolwork.

The end result of all this? Well, as we all know, if the linguistic hardliners don't shift themselves off the beach before the tide comes in, they're going to drown in their own indignation. As the kids in China say: "886" (bye-bye). ®