Archive for Neologisms

"Stooping" in China

I never heard of it in America or Europe (seems to be a quite recent phenomenon — by that name — but see below for the deeper history of the activity).  Apparently it has taken off in China during the last year:

Stooping Takes China by Storm as Zoomers Scour the Streets for Junk

Cash-strapped young Chinese have developed a sudden passion for furnishing their homes with discarded items found on the street. Their parents are horrified.

By Fan Yiying, Sixth Tone (Jul 18, 2023)

Stooping has its roots in New York, where there is a long tradition of people leaving unwanted furniture on the stoops of their apartment buildings. The name “stooping” was coined in 2019 by a couple from Brooklyn, who set up an Instagram account sharing photos and locations of discarded items in the city. The feed — Stooping NYC — has amassed nearly half a million followers.

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Sinological formatting

I recently received this book:

Sūn Sīmiǎo, Sabine Wilms.  Healing Virtue-Power: Medical Ethics and the Doctor's Dao.  Whidbey Island WA:  Happy Goat Productions, 2022.

ISBN:  978-1-7321571-9-4

website

As soon as I started to leaf through the volume, I was struck by its unusual format and usages:  every Chinese character is accompanied by Hanyu Pinyin phonetic annotation with tones, and all terms and sentences are translated into English.  But that's just the beginning; after introducing the original author and the translator, I will point out additional features of this remarkable, praiseworthy monograph.

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Huminerals

"Word of the Week: Huminerals (人矿 rén kuàng)", Alexander Boyd, China Digital Times (2/13/23)

The new word “humineral” (人矿 rén kuàng) has taken the Chinese internet by storm and is now a sensitive word subject to censorship. First introduced in a now-censored Zhihu [VHM:  a forum website] post on January 2, 2023, “humineral”—a portmanteau of 人 rén (“person”) and 矿 kuàng (“ore,” “mineral deposit,” or “mine”) in the original Chinese—describes a person relentlessly exploited by society until they are eventually discarded on the refuse pile. The original Zhihu post elucidated 10 tenets of the “humineral,” three of which CDT has translated below

1. Huminerals: You are a resource, not a protagonist. You are a means, not an end. Your life’s work will go towards the fulfillment of others instead of the pursuit of your own desires.

2. The life of a humineral can be divided into three stages: extraction, exploitation, and slag removal. Investment in your education over your first decade or so is oriented at extracting your potential—turning you into usable ore. The middle decades are a process of exploitation and consumption. When you’re finally useless, they’ll use the least polluting method possible to dispose of you.  [emphasis added]

8. Huminerals power the motors that turn the wheels of history. Huminerals have few other choices: either fuel history’s engine, or be ground beneath its wheels. Of course the inverse is true. If huminerals were to stop propelling history, then those other huminerals who abstained would not be crushed. Yet there are always huminerals who see more value in a lifetime of being fuel than to risk being flattened.  [Chinese]

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Neologisms for the Anthropocene

Article by Richard Fisher in BBC (1/26/23):                   

Why we need new words for life in the Anthropocene

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is assembling a new lexicon for people's experience of climate change and environmental upheaval, writes Richard Fisher.

The beginning paragraphs read thus:

One day, Harold Antoine Des Voeux realised he lacked a word. It was the beginning of the 20th Century, and the doctor had been treating multiple people for lung ailments. Gradually, he figured out the reason for the excess illness he was seeing: it was the air pollution caused by nearby factories burning so much coal. In one 1909 incident that affected Glasgow, more than 1,000 people had died.

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Hurry hurry super scurry

No "lying flat" or "coiling up" for us!

Here are Japanese words (not characters) of the year for 2022.

No Time to Waste: “Taipa” Chosen as One of Japan’s Words of 2022

nippon.com  (12/16/22)

Quite a different set of attitudes from what young people in China are feeling nowadays.  You will note that extreme abbreviation of words and phrases is a feature of the favored words in the contemporary Japanese lexicon.  I would wager that this feature is a reflection of the tempo of Japanese life.

Taipa, an abbreviation of “time performance,” was selected by dictionary publisher Sanseidō as its word of the year for 2022, reflecting young people’s desire not to waste a second.

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New words for "quarantine" in the PRC: "silence" and "time-space companion"

From a PRC M.A. candidate:

Nowadays China has some new words for quarantine: “jìngmò 静默” ("silence") and "shíkōng bànsuí zhě时空伴随者” which means that the phone number of the person and the confirmed number stay in the same time-space grid (800m X 800m) for more than 10 minutes, and the cumulative length of stay of the number of either party exceeds 30 hours in the last 14 days. The detected number is the time-space accompanying number.

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New Russian Newspeak

The author of this article is Michele A. Berdy, who writes under the byline The Word's Worth.  Berdy, born in the US but a resident of Moscow for over 40 years, has been doing this language column for a couple of decades.  It is usually light-hearted, even whimsical.  Not this one.  She departed Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine, and may now be in the U.S.  As per this March article in Politico.

"Newspeak in the New Russia:
George Orwell must be spinning in his grave."

The Moscow Times (9/23/22)

Новояз: Newspeak

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Conehead cabbage

A new kind of cabbage for me:

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Husband Nursery

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Trap daddy

A current catch phrase in China is kēngdiē 坑爹, which literally means "trap your father", but in actuality is a slang neologism used to signify "dishonest; fraudulent; deceptive; be contrary to what one expected", etc. 

"‘Really annoying’ — phrase of the week"

A decade-long online prank involving fake historical accounts of Russian history was unearthed on Chinese social media. For many internet users, the hoax got under their skin.

Andrew Methven  SupChina    Published July 8, 2022

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Of chives and bandits

Tension over the prolonged pandemic lockdowns in Chinese cities is growing.  Thus violence has erupted even in Beijing, where we get scenes like this in the suburb of Yanjiao, 21 miles east of Tiananmen, where workers are demonstrating for the right to travel to their jobs in the city, with continuous cries of "jǐngchá dǎ rén 警察打人" ("the police are beating people").  But it is Shanghai where the citizens have suffered most grievously and for the longest period of time.  Although the government has announced the lifting of the lockdowns, many of the most obnoxious mandates (e.g., repeated, frequent nucleic acid testing) are still being enforced.  All of this has led to extreme cynicism and a greater willingness to confront the authorities.  Some of these sentiments are conveyed on this card where, naturally in the land of the most severe censorship in the world, they must employ clever indirection, which I shall try to explain below:

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RUNning away from Shanghai

New article in Shìjiè Rìbào 世界日報 (World Journal [5/12/22]):

"Tífáng mínzhòng luò pǎo? Zhōngguó yāoqiú: Cóngyán xiànzhì fēi bìyào chūjìng huódòng 提防民眾落跑?中國要求:從嚴限制非必要出境活動 ("Beware of people running away? China demands: Severe restrictions on non-essential outbound activities")

What we're seeing in this article and elsewhere online is the emergence of neologisms resulting from the extreme lockdowns in Shanghai during the last month and more.  The restrictions are so brutally draconian and the people are so desperate that they have begun to develop a science of how to escape.

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"Chilly" in Japanese

The Japanese love to borrow foreign words into their language, tens of thousands of them, but when they do, they usually put their own stamp on them.  This year's word of the year is a good example:

Laid-Back Loanword “Chirui” Chosen as One of Japan’s Words of 2021:

The English phrase “chill out” inspired the adjective chirui, which was selected by dictionary publisher Sanseidō as its word of the year for 2021.

nippon.com (12/10/21)

Here they've created an adjective based on the English phrase "chill out".

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