A story by Lester Haines in The Register describes recent attempts to crack down on widespread usage of internet slang in China:
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.
I know how they feel—I don’t much like the corresponding abbreviations in English myself—but attempts to legislate language tend not to work very well. Better to promote good writing in other ways and hope this GG stuff is a passing fad.
(Thanks for the link, Stuart!)