Archive for Censorship

5=5

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The ultimate protest against censorship

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Mutilating French, but not too badly

When I was writing "Mutilating Hangeul: visual puns as a parallel orthography" (10/8/22), I thought of including a reference to Pig Latin, but it is so mild in comparison to Yaminjeongeum that I decided to leave it out.  French Verlan lies somewhere between the two in the degree with which it deforms the original language on which it is based.

Verlan (French pronunciation: ​[vɛʁlɑ̃]) is a type of argot in the French language, featuring inversion of syllables in a word, and is common in slang and youth language. It rests on a long French tradition of transposing syllables of individual words to create slang words. The word verlan itself is an example of verlan (making it an autological word). It is derived from inverting the sounds of the syllables in l'envers ([lɑ̃vɛʁ], "the inverse", frequently used in the sense of "back-to-front").

(source)

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Winnie the Pooh in a bottle

Netizens in Taiwan are having fun sharing a photo of a beverage promotion that comes with a Winnie doll in a bottle.


(source of photo and article in Chinese)

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Typos as a means for circumventing censorship

Article in China Digital Times (CDT):

"List of Derogatory Nicknames for Xi Leaked Amid Crackdown on 'Typos'”, by Joseph Brouwer (7/20/22)

In all of my many years of following China's censorship saga, I have never seen the government so determined to expunge even the slightest expression of dissent or disapproval on the part of citizens.  The reason is fairly simple:  at the 20th Party Congress to be convened this fall, Chairman / President / General Secretary Xi Jinping is going to attempt something unprecedented in the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since the time of its founder, Mao Zedong:, viz., to make himself Paramount Leader for life (no term limits!).  Since not everybody — including members of other factions in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — is pleased with this proposed arrangement, tensions are running high, to put it mildly.

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"Grass Mud Horse" and other homophonic puns threatened with extinction

Article by Manya Koetse, What's on Weibo (7/13/22):

Weibo Vows to Crack Down on Homophones and ‘Misspelled’ Words to “Stop Spread of Harmful Information”

Creative language targeted by Weibo. Is this great Chinese online tradition in danger of dying out?

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Chinese social media platform Weibo announced that it will crack down on the use of homophones and ‘misspelled words’ by netizens in order to create a more “healthy” online environment and stop the spread of “misinformation.”

The announcement became a trending topic on the platform on Wednesday, receiving over 180 million views.

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Mi experiencia como Team Leader de compras vecinales

[This is a guest post by Conal Boyce]

[VHM:  watch as much or as little of this 24-minute video as you wish; the most pertinent portion runs from 2:17 to 3:40]

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Uncommon prosperity

Even those who are not China watchers will remember the savage satire directed against the pathetic River Crab (= Harmonious Society) and the Grass-Mud Horse (= *uck your mother"). 

There's always something the censors have to block on the Chinese internet.  It wouldn't be the Chinese internet if a large part of it were not being blocked.  If I were to list all the Language Log posts that document the expressions that have been censored by the PRC authorities, it would soon swell to over a hundred items.

For the year 2021, here are some of the favorite targets of the internet police:

Clubhouse

February 8, 2021

Social audio app Clubhouse was blocked around 7 p.m. on February 8 in response to a spirited discussion about Xinjiang that had happened the previous weekend. (See Darren Byler’s column about the offending chat room). In addition, Clubhouse had hosted discussions about Tibet and Taiwan. Some Chinese users noted that their mainland China phone numbers could not receive verification messages to register for new accounts.

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Melon eaters and censorship in the PRC

Because of the scandal surrounding the illicit, involuntary relationship between female tennis star, Peng Shuai 彭帅, and top CCP official, Zhang Gaoli 张高丽, which became a hot button issue around the world beginning about a month ago, the Chinese government went into overdrive to censor all trace of it from the internet (see here).  The issue was particularly sensitive and embarrassing to the Communist Party because it rekindled the Me Too / #MeToo / #Mǐtù 米兔 ("Rice Bunny") movement (which the government had only with great difficulty tamped down a few years ago), led to the cancellation of the lucrative Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tournaments in China, and is even threatening to cause a boycott of the upcoming winter Olymics, which would be utterly disastrous for the PRC.

The gross disparity between the absence of all mention of l'affaire Peng Shuai et Zhang Gaoli in China (indeed the disappearance of the star herself) and the raging indignation over it outside China led me to inquire of my friends in China what they were hearing about it sub / sotto voce.

All responses in this post are from Chinese citizens who must remain unidentified for fear of harsh government reprisals.

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"Bad" words

As part of their broad language policing, PRC authorities are cracking down on inappropriate monikers:

"No More ‘SissyGuy’ or ‘Douchebag1990’: Weibo Bans Usernames Containing ‘Bad’ Words:

Weibo users can clean up their usernames before December 8", Manye Koetse, What's on Weibo (12/1/21)

Weibo, which is China's version of Twitter, has a huge following and enormous influence, but, like everything on the Chinese internet, it is strictly censored and harshly controlled.  Now, in line with the recent announcement of the latest drastic language regulations, Weibo users must junk their naughty names.

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AI cat and mouse robot censorship war

Now it's getting interesting:

"China’s internet police losing man-versus-machine duel on social media"

Stephen Chen, SCMP (11/14/21)

    Hordes of bot accounts using clever dodging tactics are causing burnout among human censors, police investigative paper finds
    Authorities may respond by raising a counter-army of automated accounts or even an AI-driven public opinion leader

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Circumventing censorship in the PRC

A major scandal erupted this past week in the highest levels of the CCP political structure, when a female tennis star, Peng Shuai 彭帅, accused a top official, Zhang Gaoli 张高丽, of having an affair with her.  Zhang is now retired, but was a recent member of  the Politburo Standing Committee and former holder of many high, important positions.  He was Premier Li Keqiang's former right hand man (Vice Premier).

"Chinese tennis star’s sexual assault allegation against former top leader prompts online blackout", by Eva Dou and Alicia Chen, Washington Post (11/3/21)

In what is seen as a reassertion of the feminist #MeToo movement in China, after the government had tamped it down for several years, Peng launched her accusation of sexual assault and prolonged liaison on her Twitter-like Weibo account.  Government authorities quickly scrubbed her post from the web, but not before screen shots had been made of it and a massive flurry of netizen discussion ensued.

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Your Pinky Heart

Phenomenally viral song by the Malaysian hip-hop artist, Namewee, "It might Break Your Pinky Heart. Namewee 黃明志 Ft.Kimberley Chen 陳芳語【Fragile 玻璃心】@鬼才做音樂 2021 Ghosician" — premiered on 10/15/21, and it already has nearly 9,000,000 views:

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