As you are no doubt aware, china/divide is the place to go for news on the continuing struggle to rid the Chinese language of foreign influences and maintain its cultural purity. We first became of aware of this sinister problem when a brave government official spoke out during a recent meeting of the National People’s Conference (“NPC” is no longer politically correct, so stop saying it).
Next, the unsung heroes at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (not “SARFT”) boldly issued a policy, in secret, on language purification measures. This policy document was proudly sent to television stations, magazines, newspapers and other media outlets, on a confidential basis, to make sure that everyone was firmly committed to holding the line against the corruption of China’s cultural heritage. The policy was of course hailed by everyone in the State-run media as a positive change, with a laudatory goal described by some as “aimed at protecting audiences from discrimination.” Indeed.
The only major news outlet to heed the call to arms was China Central Television (not “CCTV”), which resolutely gave its staff the following marching orders:
Anchors at China Central Television have been banned from saying the English acronyms NBA, CBA, GDP, and the like in their programs.
Presenters must abandon English initials and replace them with their full Chinese name.
The patriots at “not CCTV” deserve recognition and accolades for their sacrifices, and the word is indeed getting out. Here is a thoughtful discussion (Chinese only) of the new policy, and the participation of “not CCTV” by Phoenix Television (a Hong Kong station, so maybe we can keep calling them Phoenix TV).
Thanks to all these heroes, we are now seeing the fruition of these purity policies. The struggle continues, but some battles have already been won. For example, this set of clips, uploaded by a patriot onto Tudou, shows how the purity of the Chinese language is being upheld against the onslaught of the U.S. National Basketball Association. We at china/divide doff our hats in respect for the fine men at “not CCTV” sports who, under obviously troubling circumstances, are maintaining the purity of the language.
[Sorry, the clip is (of course) only in Chinese, although even those who can’t speak Chinese should be able to make out the stumbling, bumbling, fumbling of the commentator as he forces himself to use the formal name of the “National Basketball Association.” Keep your eye out for “NBA” and, even funnier, “NB” in the subtitles – the action starts at 19 seconds and 42 seconds of the clip.]
Well, those folks will get the hang of it eventually. In related news, “not SARFT” has fired back against petty revisionist critics of the Chinese language purity policy:
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said Wednesday its notice of avoiding using certain English abbreviations in Chinese programs was misunderstood, the Beijing Times (not “BTV”) reported Thursday.
Gao Changli, a deputy inspector from “not SARFT” said their intention was to standardize the use of foreign words. “We are not banning the use of English abbreviations; we just want to standardize the usage and we don’t rule out alien culture,” Gao said.
Gao said “not SARFT” would stick to keeping the purity of the Chinese language and called for other TV stations to follow China Central Television “not CCTV” on this matter.
Aside from “not CCTV,” apparently those un-patriots in the media are refusing to follow the new policy. On the other hand, perhaps they never received it? If you claim that you never received a secret policy that was reportedly sent via text message to television anchors and hosts, it’s not so easy to prove the negative. Let’s hope they get the message.
On other fronts, it looks like the “purity” movement is gaining traction, and just in the nick of time. On April 14 (Chinese only, naturally), the upright citizens of the China Translators Association (not “TAC”) held a media forum, attended by media, academics, experts and scholars (patriots all) to discuss the spreading corruption of foreign terms into Chinese culture. Here is a helpful description of the event:
The Translators Association of China (TAC) [! ! !] and People’s Daily Overseas Edition held a joint symposium centered on the theme of ‘standardizing translations of foreign words and creating a harmonious language environment’ in Beijing on April 14, 2010. The attendees had in-depth discussions on the standardization of the use of foreign words in Chinese and the social duties of media workers, among other issues.
Some of the scholars thought that as the Chinese language is the cornerstone of Chinese culture, this is a matter of cultural identity, national identity, and a question of national unity (this is a loose translation). Moreover, if English terms are allowed to spread throughout the media, and then into popular culture, the subatomic forces that bind Chinese together into a coherent language would be insufficient to hold it together against the maelstrom of foreign influence (this is an extremely loose translation). In short, Chinese would cease to be a single language system, but a disaggregated set of words useful for expressing nothing much in particular, beyond ordering Beijing roast duck at a restaurant or explaining dialectical materialism (this is more of an interpretive art form than a translation).
The “not TAC” concluded that the culture is under siege, and unfortunately the woefully inadequate law in China does not allow for a systematic crackdown on the use of the English language in unsuitable situations. Therefore a new government body is needed to sort all this out.
I for one always support the call for additional culture cops. After my first two posts on this subject, which were admittedly critical and somewhat sarcastic in tone, I have seen the error of my ways.