Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Watch Your Language: The Xinhua Book of Style

Xinhua News Agency has updated its list of unPC and PC phrases. No-nos include "former Soviet Union" (前苏联) (it's still Soviet Union, Comrade); using "strategy" (战略 zhànlüè) to describe One Belt, One Road (use initiative 倡议 instead), and vulgar terms such as “green tea bitch” (绿茶婊) . . .


# 1.   

For those of you, who, like me, hadn't heard of 绿茶婊:

綠茶婊是 2013 年中國大陆的網絡新詞,由绿茶和婊子两个词组成,泛指外貌清純脫俗,實質生活糜爛,裝出楚楚可憐,但善於心計,靠美色吸引男性付出物質或利益的妙齡少女

Bruce Humes, July 21, 2017, 8p.m.

# 2.   

The only one that really makes no sense is "former" Soviet Union. It simply doesn't exist anymore – what's the implication here?

 Eric Abrahamsen, July 21, 2017, 8p.m.

# 3.   That the "demise" of the Soviet Union was an historical error. Kind of like 山寨新闻, fake news . . .

Bruce Humes, July 21, 2017, 8:25p.m.

# 4.   

The argument against 前苏联 is that in most cases it's completely interchangeable with 苏联; "former" is extraneous since there's no need to differentiate it from a "latter" polity sharing the same name (unlike / distinctions in dynastic names, or adding to distinguish an ancient empire from its modern namesake). A People's Education Press editor wrote up a useful analysis in 2007, noting the few contexts where may be warranted (note that Xinhua's rules also say 一般情况下, allowing for exceptions).

jdmartinsen, July 22, 2017, 1:49a.m.

# 5.   

not exactly pertinent but I was just reading this book "Leningrad: American writers in the Soviet Union" by Michael Davidson, Lyn Hejinian, [Ron Silliman] (
and Barrett Watten. " Arkadii Dragomoshchenko was one of the founders of a peculiar org. called 'club-81' ( as it was founded in 1981)-- peculiar in being an organization of writers not 'officially' recognize as such but allowed 'officially' to meet. " Quite a fascinating read!

susan, July 22, 2017, 3:33a.m.

# 6.   

@jdmartinsen: Huh, once you put it that way, it makes instant sense. We don't put a "former" before the every political body that no longer exists…

 Eric Abrahamsen, July 22, 2017, 5:21p.m.

# 7.   


Lao Zhang, July 24, 2017, 4:07a.m.

# 8.   

We had this quiz on WeChat, 'who can name the 15 republic that belonged to Soviet Union'... I suppose in that context, "前苏联" is like 'Soviet Union No more' kinda double-take... leaving readers to contemplate which is more- and which is less- in spirit of the 'old' regime?

susan, July 24, 2017, 10:13a.m.

# 9.   

Did anyone else see Iron Man 2 in China, with all references to the USSR very conspicuously censored? Always wondered about that...

Dave Haysom, July 25, 2017, 3:53p.m.

# 10.   

a bit digression again on my latest finding of this gem on the net: ( 'the mad ship')...

A.I. Miha’lov (Sankt-Peterburg, The Pushkin’s House). Nikolaj Kljuev and “Serapionovy brat’ya”

For the first time after O. Forsh’s novel “Sumasshedshii korabl’” (“The Mad ship”) the article of doc. phil. Alexandr Miha’lov deals with historic-literary comparison of Nikolaj Kljuev’s creative work and literary group “Serapionovy brat’ya”. The contributor considers the conflict between “muzhickii genii Mikula” (“muzhik’s genius Mikula”) and vyrazitelyami “govora i povadki novyh grazhdan Soyuza” (mouthpieces of “dialect and habits of the new citizens of Union”), fixed by O. Forsh, as manifestation of tragedy of splitting of the Russian literature in the Soviet period. O. Forsh’s novel “Sumasshedshii korabl’”, N. Kljuev’s texts, recollections of contemporaries are the basis of the article material. Especially explicitly the author mentions creative interrelation of N. Kljuev and N. Tihonov, touching upon the subject “Poet i Vlast’” (“the Poet and Authority”).

susan, July 28, 2017, 5:13a.m.


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