More misreadings by Xi Jinping

« previous post | next post »

From a colleague (with Romanizations and translations added by VHM):

Two of Xi's recent báizì 白字 ("miswritten / mispronounced character") that the CCP propaganda machine tries awkwardly to cover up:

Reading “jīngzhàn xìnì 精湛细腻” ("consummately exquisite") as “jīng shén xìnì 精甚细腻" ("very refined and exquisite”).

Reading“shànyǎng 赡养” ("support; provide for") as “zhānyǎng 瞻仰” ("pay respect").

Xi has after all only xiǎoxué shuǐpíng wénhuà chéngdù 小学水平文化程度 ("primary school level of education"), as the late Li Rui 李锐 (1917-2019; Chinese historian and politician) had famously commented. Xi therefore shows traits of some deep inferiority complex.

As previously suggested (to avoid repeated embarrassment) I have a simple solution for Xi Jinping's frequent misreadings of characters:  write out his speeches all in Pinyin, or at least with Pinyin annotations for each character.  And don't use pedantic, literary, classical expressions that he's not familiar with.


"More literary troubles for Xi Jinping" (1/3/19)

"The face of censorship" (1/11/19)

"Annals of literary vs. vernacular, part 2" (9/4/16)

"Latin Caesar –> Tibetan Gesar –> Xi Jinpingian Sager" (3/20/18)

"Pinyin for the Prez" (10/25/18)

"Peking University president misreads an unobscure character: monumental implications" (5/5/18)

"Xi Jinping's reading errors multiply" (12/28/18)

"The political dangers of mispronunciation" (4/5/17)

"Phonetic annotations as a welcome aid for learning how to read and write Sinographs" (4/26/19)


  1. Don Clarke said,

    May 2, 2019 @ 11:56 am

    There's something I don't understand about a particular class of misreadings, which is misreadings of characters when the expression is quite common in the spoken language and you have some pretty good hints about what the unknown character must be. It's possible that Xi has never heard the expression 精湛细腻 before, so misreading the obscure second character is not surprising. But it's impossible that Xi hasn't heard 赡养 before. I would have thought that even if he didn't know the character 赡, he would be able to quickly guess (perhaps even subconsciously, without knowing he was guessing) the pronunciation. He knows there's a word pronounced "shan4yang3" and what it means; he sees a character that he can be pretty sure is either shan or zhan; and the context would indicate that the word "shan4yang3" was appropriate at just that point in the text. Whatever his education, I don't see why it should take a high degree of literacy to make that guess. It doesn't take an advanced knowledge of Chinese to know the spoken word "shan4yang3"; the rest is just deduction. In other words, I don't think that even I, a non-native speaker, would make that kind of mistake. How can a native speaker make it?

  2. minus273 said,

    May 3, 2019 @ 9:23 pm

    Because 赡养 is not that common a spoken word. In real conversation I think the word is monosyllabic 养.

  3. Jonathan Smith said,

    May 3, 2019 @ 10:14 pm

    @ Don Clarke, minus273 I suppose that was the process but he simply arrived at the (wrong) word, zhan1yang3 瞻仰, where tellingly the second syllable is homophonous with the known 养. And 老人 + 瞻仰 is not a totally ridiculous kind of association to make… so the error doesn't seem that surprising.
    More tangentially, 老人赡养 'elder care' strikes my foreign ear as newfangled Chinese, a 2+2 noun phrase from O-V akin to the 2+2+1 synthetic compounds based on O-V (任务管理器 etc.) to which contrast plainer O-V 洗衣机, etc. Maybe these new types of combinations are less cromulent at first exposure i.e. they are somewhat idiomatic like "子女教育" to which 老人赡养 was parallel in the speech.

  4. Sensibubs said,

    May 6, 2019 @ 9:52 pm

    the expression "赡养老人" or "老人赡养" is seen fairly frequently in party writings (i.e. Qiushi), guess he hasn't had time to read them over the last few years.

RSS feed for comments on this post