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China chucks English-language acronyms

Media prohibitions aimed at sustaining Chinese language

No English please, we’re Chinese.

In a bid to preserve the purity of the its language, the Chinese government has ordered TV channels not to use any English acronyms, such as NBA for National Basketball Assn. or GDP for gross domestic product.

Instead, they must use Chinese words — even if they are a bit unwieldy at times.

China Central Television (CCTV) and Beijing Television (BTV) confirmed that they had received the notice from the government but did not reveal exactly how many English abbreviations were listed.

Broadcasters and journalists will have to provide written explanations for any unavoidable English abbreviations in their programs.

If we don’t pay attention and don’t take measures to stop mixing Chinese with English, the Chinese language won’t remain pure in a couple of years,” Huang Youyi, the editor-in-chief of the China Intl. Publishing Group and secretary-general of the Translators’ Assn. of China, told the China Daily newspaper.

The restricted use of English abbreviations on Chinese TV has also provoked a debate among scholars.

Some reacted angrily to what they called “cultural conservatism.”

It makes no sense to introduce a regulation to prevent the use of English in the Chinese language in the face of globalization,” says Liu Yaoying, a professor at the Communication U. of China.

If Western countries can accept some Chinglish words, why can’t the Chinese language be mixed with English?”

Such calls for linguistic purity will be familiar in France, where there have been longstanding efforts to remove terms like “Le Weekend” and “Le Fast Food” from the native lexicon.

Perhaps inevitably, the Chinese referenced the French linguistic model to justify their actions.

France is a country known for its linguistic pride. Its government outlaws advertising in English and mandates a 40% quota of French songs on the radio,” local media reported.

Plus ca change.

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