China Orders Chinese Media to Cease Using Foreign Words

China’s  General Administration of Press and Publication has ordered Chinese newspapers, publishers and websites to stop using foreign words and acronyms. Chinese media has also been ordered to avoid using examples of the Chinese/English linguistic Frankenstein monster known as “Chinglish.”

According to the People’s Daily Online, the new rules were put into place to protect the Chinese language and to make sure that news is intelligible to all Mandarin speakers, whether they speak English or not:

“Abuse of foreign languages, including arbitrary use of English words; acronym mixing in Mandarin and coined half-English, half-Chinese terms that are intelligible to nobody, are commonly seen. All these have seriously damaged to the purity of the Chinese language and resulted in adverse social impacts to the harmonious and healthy cultural environment.”

To make sure that everyone can understand the news, when foreign words must be used they are required to be translated.  Ensuring that everyone can understand what’s on the evening news is a laudable goal, and there’s nothing wrong with expecting professional media outlets to use proper grammar, but protecting the “purity” of the language may be an uphill battle. Also, having to translate or explain even commonly understood acronyms creates unnecessary hassles for both news professionals and consumers.

One anonymous editor from Beijing told that he believed the new regulations were too strict:

“The intention of protecting the Chinese language is good. But in an age of globalization, when some English acronyms like WTO (World Trade Organization) have been widely accepted by readers, it might be too absolute to eliminate them in all publications. Conversationally, people also use these words all the time, so the regulation could create discord between the oral and written uses of language.”

3 replies
  1. Robert
    Robert says:

    I actually really support this. If you buy a magazine in China, it’ll be full of English – not generally in the body of an article, but in the headings! It never really made much sense to me, putting a Chinglishy heading followed by the article in Chinese. If you don’t speak Chinese, you can read the heading but not the article; if you can’t speak English, vice versa. I guess it was just a misguided way to seem cutting edge and internationalized. The editor above has a point though. Even the shortened form of WTO in Chinese is 4 syllables: shì mào zǔ zhī. A bit lumbersome, especially if everyone has already gotten used to using the English.

  2. Caroline Mikolajczyk
    Caroline Mikolajczyk says:

    That’s a really good point Robert, i agree with the article and you too. I mean if you are in a country, automatically you should have access to newspapers/news/media in the native language, it seems only logical. If publishers want to reach a wider audience, then they can make 2 copies, one in Chinese, one in English!

  3. Daniel Gonzales
    Daniel Gonzales says:

    The interlanguage Chinese students develop while acquiring English presents a unique set of challenges for both teachers and language learners. Chinese ESL students develop an interlanguage that reflects the differences between Chinese and English and highlights the specific challenges they face in acquiring English..


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