By Eric Abrahamsen, published
The following is a translation of this blog post, which came down the feed reader a day or so ago.
Soon after President Hu, at a very formal meeting, said the words "do not waver, do not slacken, do not mess around" (不动摇不懈怠不折腾), this phrase started to get popular. It was a bit of a shocker to hear something so slangy as "mess around" (折腾, zhéteng) come out of the mouth of a solemn, venerable personage like the General Secretary, and soon everyone was saying it.
But then some official media with nothing better to do started writing reports ("Translating 'Zheteng' from Hu Jintao's Report Stumps International Media") about how the proper English translation of 'zheteng' was "stumping language mavens in both the domestic and foreign media".
They underestimate us! A little phrase like this doesn't need a language maven to figure out, it's a piece of cake. According to the rule of 'crude for crude, elegant for elegant', I can think of a few translations: "no fooling around", "no messing around" or, if you want to get crude, "no fxxcking around" (these are all verb phrases). The translators aren't translating it, and everyone's talking around it, simply to keep from embarrassing President Hu. They're keeping it as "bu zheteng" because they have no other choice.
What's hilarious is that some retards in the Chinese media have written puff pieces saying that the Chinese 'bu zheteng' might even become a catchphrase in English. They shouldn't get their hopes up; the answer would be "No thanks. We've got plenty of words of our own, quit messing with our language." The way I see it, compared to 'bu zhengteng', some other suggestions from netizens' like 'not to huqiunong' (the Shaanxi version) or 'don't xiaqiunao' (Shandong version) have a better chance of making it into English.
Anyway, I suspect Hu Jintao was straying from the script when he said this, it doesn't sound like the sort of a thing a scriptwriter would come up with. Now everyone's elated that a Party boss could talk this way, they though they were off the hook as well. But in olden times they used to say you have to both listen to a man's words and observe his actions – I for one remain deeply skeptical. If a political party that makes a rule of "messing around" were to suddenly straighten up and fly right, they'd have no clue where to even start. Besides, before long they're going to roll out another movement, either "compulsory" or "optional"; they may say they're not "messing around", but it sure looks like it to me.