“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Hapaxes and Chinese authors

By Nicky Harman, published

hapax.jpg

Here's a nice article I came across in Atlas Obscura about authors (Maya Nandakumar gives mainly classical ones as examples) who invent their own words. Made me think of a few living Chinese authors who seem to be similarly inventive with words or expressions ... Jia Pingwa comes to mind. On the other hand, when I can't find certain mystifying expressions anywhere else online, I often wonder if it's really the author's own invention or just that certain varieties of language (local dialects) are poorly represented on the internet....

Comments

# 1.   

I have the same feeling! At the translators conference in Changchun last year Dongxi (or Dong Xi, I don't know how he'd prefer it) complained that Chinese writers are not inventive when it comes to creating new words. I've noticed that if you use a new combination of characters people tend to be a bit upset ("That word doesn't exist!) even though they have no problem understanding what it means. This is strange to me, as the Chinese language is so flexible in other ways. Dialect is accepted, but don't invent anything yourself.

Anna Gustafsson Chen, September 12, 2017, 4:56a.m.

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