A new polysyllabic character

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Here it is, folks:


I'll explain the pronunciation, construction, and meaning of this marvelous creation after providing some linguistic background about the Sinitic lexicon and Chinese script.

Not all Sinitic words are monosyllabic.  Indeed, the average length of a word in Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) is just about two syllables.  Even in Literary Sinitic / Classical Chinese, there were a considerable number of words that were greater than one syllable in length.  Nor are all Chinese characters monosyllabic; this we demonstrated in these two posts, among others:

This new quadrisyllabic character appeared on the Twitter account of Gao Yu (b. 1944), the oft imprisoned journalist who is currently serving a five year sentence under house arrest for allegedly having "leaked state secrets".  In her Twitter account, Gao Yu tells us exactly what the character means and how to pronounce it, and explains that it has been popping up in microblogs.

dǎng zài guó shàng 党在国上
"the party is on top of / above the country"

The new character consists of the top part of dǎng 党 ("party") grafted on to guó 国 ("country").  I don't think it will take long for someone to create a typable form of the character and to assign a Unicode number for it.  Perhaps that has already been done.

It is particularly poignant that this new character has been circulating at the very moment when the Chinese Communist Party is celebrating the 95th anniversary of its founding.

[h.t. Jason Cox]


  1. Jacob said,

    July 3, 2016 @ 1:43 pm

    Interesting. My above-the-fold guess was 党大于国, which brings to mind current "party before country" here in the U.S.

  2. Oliver said,

    July 3, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

    Many thanks for sharing, Victor. Regarding its pronounciation I humbly suggest xí as in 习 :).

  3. Victor Mair said,

    July 3, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

    Ingenious alternate pronunciation, Oliver!!

  4. A-gu said,

    July 5, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

    I am also reminded of the phrase used in Taiwan for how the KMT used to run things, which was 黨國不分 "do not distinguish the party from the country"

  5. Victor Mair said,

    July 5, 2016 @ 9:06 pm


    Can you write that as a single character?

  6. A-gu said,

    July 8, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

    as far as I know you could not write it as a single character.

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