30 May
2006

Chinese Internet Lingo

It is reported that by April 2006 China has a population of 110 million of internet users, 80% of which are below the age of 30; and by 2010, the number will rise up to 230 million. It is also reported that the population of internet users at age 15+ is about 74,727,000, ranking second after the United States, where it is about 152,046,000. And the total number in the whole world is about 694,260,000.

A recent research conducted by the Ministry of Education and National Linguistics Work Committee reveals that the rapidly increasing number of internet users are in fact bringing about changes in the Chinese language:

Netizens prefer using symbols to words when chatting online.

And,

These unique net lingo creations embody the netizens’ intelligence and creativity. For instance, they use “88,” which pronounces similar to “bye-bye” in Chinese, as well as “3166,” which sounds like “sayonara,” Japanese for “bye-bye.”

The Chinese Internet lingos are usually sets of commonly recognized numbers, symbols, letters and abbreviations, and in some cases, combinations of different languages or witty use of symbols for sounds. The top 20 Net Words are (ranked by popularity from the news report):

  • 顶(support)
  • 555. It is used jokingly to represent the sound of sobbing and sadness.
  • ding (support)
  • mm/MM (young girls)
  • LZ. The person who publishes a post.
  • DD/dd (young boys)
  • 88 (bye-bye)
  • 偶(I)
  • 马甲(online alias)
  • ID (identification)
  • 版主(BBS moderator)
  • 恩 (okay)
  • 汗或寒(sweating or cold). It is used when something strange or unacceptable has been said.
  • 晕 (faint). People use the word when they see something unordinary, confusing, funny or meaningless.
  • ps/PS (abbreviation of Photoshop)
  • 灌水 (flood-blogging). It means posting an essay online.
  • ddd (support in a strong tone)
  • bs/BS (despise)
  • 楼猪 (the person who publishes a post)
  • 滴 The word is similarly pronounced of auxiliary words “的” and “地”

While popularity of internet lingos is increasing, the number of frequently used Chinese characters are decreasing; while the netizens are enthusiastic about 汉语的危机using symbols, numbers and letters over the normal words and characters, people outside the internet sphere found it more and more like somthing astray from the normal language. The fast evolving internet lingos is widening the ‘digital gaps’ between the netizens and non-netizens.Controversies around these cultural phenomenon are naturally raised as to what extent it can be tolerated to ‘challenge’ this language characterized by using only characters, and the debate has been focused on the question of the purity of the Chinese language. While a ban was proposed for use of internet lingos in government documents, and books are published talking about the Crisis of Chinese Language, Others regard it as something that “embodys the netizens’ intelligence and creativity“.

As a matte of fact, besides the lingos used by netizens, people would use “3G” instead of “第三代移动通信技术“, even in the media and government documents. The influence of internet is far beyond just language. The repid development of information technology and the fast spread of internet have already changed the people’s way of communication, and have imposed deep and great impact over the society as a whole, and will continue to bring about more changes along its way of development.

2 Comments

  • […]A post from the Journal of Intercultural Learning blog looks at ‘Chinese Internet Lingo‘: “Controversies around these cultural phenomenon are naturally raised as to what extent it can be tolerated to ‘challenge’ this language characterized by using only characters, and the debate has been focused on the question of the purity of […]

  • […]might want to check it out as well. Furthermore the sidebar contains a lot of good links on resources dealing with intercultural learning in a wide sense. Here are a couple of examples of posts … Chinese internet lingo ‘It is reported that by April 2006 China has a population of 110 million of internet users, 80% of which are below the age of 30; and by 2010, the number will rise up to 230 million. It is also reported that […]

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