Someone Call a Language Cop – CCTV Says No Foreign Acronyms

As you will no doubt recall, attentive readers, back on March 11 I wrote about a proposal by one government official to constrain Chinese media from using foreign words and acronyms.

During an NPC meeting speech, the bozo had this to say about the assault on the purity of the Chinese language:

With more and more publications mixing Chinese with English, measures and regulations should be adopted to avoid English invading Chinese, suggested Huang Youyi, director of the China International Publishing Group. “If we don’t pay attention and don’t take measures to stop the expansion of mingling Chinese and English, Chinese won’t be a pure language in a couple of years,” said Huang[.]

At some point in our discussion of the topic in the china/divide comments section, I mentioned that I used Huang’s statement as a useful jumping off point for my post but did not really think that his proposal was going to be taken seriously by anyone in the government.

Famous last words. The following can best be described as Huang’s revenge:

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, according to a regulation released by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

[ . . . ]

Although the authority gave no explanation of the ban, a CCTV staffer whose name was undisclosed said the ban could protect the purity of the Chinese language. (Shanghai Daily)

Looks like Huang had some juice somewhere with the higher-ups, that is of course if this has anything at all to do with his statements made last month during the NPC meetings.

I guess this means that CCTV now has a staffer whose job it is to look out for the unauthorized use of foreign acronyms. Eventually, though, someone will screw up, and then we’ll get to see what the punishment is for violating this rule. Fine? Language school? Banishment?


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  1. blicket

    they need to add “CCTV” to the list as well.

  2. lolz

    God I hate acronyms myself, not only the English ones but also the Chinese ones like qj, sb, zb, qq, nj, jj, etc.
    The difference is that most English acronyms are associated with companies organizations, most of the Chinese acronyms are short for verbs and nouns typically involving sex and swearing.

  3. anon

    You can’t keep a language “pure” for long. Even if you tried. All languages flow. Americans today don’t say the same things said 200 years ago. Because language is always evolving. A man that has no idea what he is saying.

  4. Josh

    lol, Huang Youyi. What a jackass.

    • Agreed. Another wanabe trying to tap into Chinese nationalist sentiment.

      • David Wolf via twitter:

        “Cultural chauvinism may be a winner at home, but it will throttle China’s global ambitions.”

        “Big problem: how this will affect education. For its own sake, China must raise polyglot globalists, not monolingual nationalists”

        “And it looks harmless. But these sorts of things set a cultural undertone that bodes ill for China as it ventures aborad.”

        • King Tubby

          aborad or a borat.

        • friendo

          Lots of unsubstantiated claims by multiculturalist zombie. Next he will say if Chinese women don’t all marry foreigners, China will never develop.

          • Josh

            Don’t really see how the two are connected, friendo. Also, stuart prefaced what he said by saying “David Wolf via Twitter.”

            All in all, the ones who are really hurt in this situation are Chinese news anchors for having to say 国家篮球协会 instead of NBA.

  5. wgj

    It’s really problematic that the official CCTV logo — the one overlaying all broadcasts on all channels at all times — says “CCTV” and not “央视”. If this rule is to be kept, the CCTV needs a new logo.

    Or maybe it will switch back to its old logo? Admittedly it too said “CCTV”, but incorporated the letters to form an atomic-looking symbol (atom = science = modern socialist nation). So it could be argued that it was not so much an English acronym rather that just a pretty graphic:

  6. whichone

    I really don’t understand the people in charge of the P.R. departments in Chinese government. It’s been decades since time of revolutionary communism rousing the peasants through cheesy slogans yet it seems people in charge of communications/messages are still stuck in the past, as if one can police the cultural changes brought about by exchanges with the rest of the world. There are no shortage P.R. firms, exchange students, or people with access to information who are all painfully aware how backwards and off putting these “green-dam” efforts sound to the people, why not hire a couple to change the message?

    Though to be fair, the failure to simultaneously advance one’s political career and keep their brains intact is not an unique affliction of the Chinese politicians.

  7. They should ban miscegenation while they’re at it. Protect the purity of the Chinese bloodline.

  8. yangrouchuan

    Just more to demonstrate China’s bad behavior and “Han master race” mentality.

    • friendo

      It obviously will extend to non-Mandarin speakers of Chinese dialects as well as minority languages and cultures that Hollywood and whites are hellbent on “assimilating”.

  9. so… no more CNN, anitCNN, BBC, PRC, PLA etc etc.
    Crap that means more vocabulary for us. This is just a desire for people learning Chinese to have a more hard time!

  10. Dom

    So, who from CCTV going to run upstairs to SARFT and bollock them for selling out the English language? Or maybe someone at the CPC will raise it at the next NPC or CPPCC….

    China, has every right to try and keep their language free of the sort of bastardisation that “Das Handy” has brought to the Germans – like France has done with mixed reults.

    But, if you work for a company that calls itself by one of these ‘offending’ abbreviations, surely the job of pointing out this folly is better left to someone else.

    Anyway…they should embrace a bit of diversity – one of English’s strengths is its sheer depth of vocabulary – something that has come from the fact it is a mongrel of a language that has been influenced by those who have conquered or been conquered by the English

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