QAnon phonetics

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David Gilbert, "QAnon Thinks Trump Says ‘Chy-na’ to Send a Secret Message About Ukraine", Vice 3/14/2022:

QAnon followers are boosting an unhinged new conspiracy theory that claims former President Donald Trump was purposely mispronouncing the word “China” for years, as part of a secret plot to alert the world that COVID-19 was manufactured in Ukraine.

The latest conspiracy theory being spread among QAnon adherents ties in with the wider conspiracy about U.S. biolabs in Ukraine and suggests that QAnon may be shifting its longstanding perception of China as the enemy.

The new conspiracy theory, first flagged by disinformation expert Marc Owen Jones, has been bubbling up on QAnon channels on Telegram for the past week.

First, some enterprising QAnon sleuth claimed to have “discovered” that there was a place in Ukraine called “chy-na” and further claimed that Trump’s distinct pronunciation of “China” was the former president’s attempt to signal to his followers that what he was talking about was “chy-na” in Ukraine, and not China.

In recent days, the theory has grown, and many QAnon followers now argue that when Trump referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” he was secretly referring to the Ukrainian chy-na, and trying to tell the world that the virus was manufactured in Ukraine, a claim that ties in with the broader belief that Ukraine is home to some “deep state” plot to control the world.

Due to Poe's Law, I have no idea whether this is a real fantasy or a parody — but here's the Twitter thread that describes it.

I'm also not clear about which aspects of TFG's speech patterns are at issue — but here's Ben Craw's 2015 mash-up of Trump saying the crucial word (which we cited at the time in "Trump on China", 8/29/2015):



  1. Robert said,

    March 20, 2022 @ 2:39 pm

    This is hysterical but also horrifying that this is the reality we live in…

  2. Batchman said,

    March 20, 2022 @ 4:04 pm

    This makes little sense to me, as Trump is not mispronouncing "China" but saying it in an odd manner. And what would be the actual spelling of the location in Ukraine if it be real?

    [(myl) The cited Vice article explains the reference this way:

    The Ukrainian “chy-na” is in fact just part of the name of what appears to be a village on the outskirts of Lviv. In Ukrainian, it is called “Шпильчина,” but on Google Maps, it’s referred to as “Shpyl’chyna.” Unfortunately, this is a bad transliteration: The ‘y’ is meant to represent a very soft ‘i’ sound that’s hard to transliterate, because it’s rarely used in English.

    And cites this tweet. ]

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    March 20, 2022 @ 4:56 pm

    Does/do "Q***n" warrant any publicity whatsoever ?

  4. AntC said,

    March 20, 2022 @ 5:30 pm

    I was hoping LLog would tell what the suffix -china means.

    I think we're with Mussorgsky again: Khovanschina Fair (note the Khova-), his unorchestrated Opera, to go with Pictures at an Exhibition/The Great Gate of Kiev, his unorchestrated suite.

    Or was Trump warning us about Khovd on the border with China?

    [(myl) Mussorgsky's work should be transliterated "Khovanshchina" (from Russian "Хованщина"), which derives from the name of Prince Ivan Khovansky, with Khovanshchina interpreted as "the Khovansky affair".

    Apparently чин means "rank", "order", or "manner" in Ukrainian, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with the place names ending in -чина or -щина — maybe they derive similarly from names in "-sky"?

    Anyhow, according to the data from GeoNames, there are 313 place names in Ukraine ending in (transliterated) -chyna, 140 in Belarus, and 4 in Russia (including 1 in Yakutia). ]

  5. AntC said,

    March 20, 2022 @ 11:42 pm

    Thank you Mark. I hesitate to question your websearching skills but …

    I was surprised at the small count in Russia. Geonet -щина in Russia gives me 16 hits. -чина in Russia gives 50 (although not all of those look valid).

    So it seems that is a productive suffix, not a few ossified names. Was T**** warning us about all of those places? Do any of them have Russian biolabs? I think we should be told.

    English transliterations include -shino, -shina, -kina, -kino. Perhaps those explain T****'s strange and inconsistent pronunciations?

    Geonet for English -shchina/-shchino in Russia gives 19.

    (Prince) Khovansky's name comes from Lithuanian (Grand Duchy, C17th). There's maybe a handful of 'Khovanshchina's on Geonet (I suspect some double counting), one in ByeloRus, one South East of Moscow that's (presumably) named for the Prince: he was sent as Governor to defend Tula Oblast against the Crimean Tatars.

  6. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:27 am

    I don't think -щина is particularly productive today, but it's relatively widespread. It means 'the land of [root]' where [root] can be e.g. a personal or place name. The Polish (my L1) cognate is -(szcz)yzna, e.g. Lubleszczyzna 'the land around the city of Lublin'. Obviously the Ukrainian form is also a cognate.

  7. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:29 am

    Oh BTW the low counts may be due to the fact (I'm guessing; my 8 years of school Russian happened 30 years ago) that the consonants may be optional. Cf. Polish ojcowizna '(obsolete) one's father's land' (as in, the actual plot of farmland, not 'fatherland' in the sense of the country).

    A description of the Russian suffixes is e.g. here.

  8. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:32 am

    And a final comment, the actual Russian pronunciation of course ends in [-ina], and the Ukrainian is bound to be similar. The [aɪ] comes from English grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences.

  9. David Marjanović said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:39 am

    Does/do "Q***n" warrant any publicity whatsoever ?

    A scarily large part of the American electorate is not going to simply disappear if it's ignored.

    maybe they derive similarly from names in "-sky"?


    (Prince) Khovansky's name comes from Lithuanian (Grand Duchy, C17th).

    How? There's no [x] in that language, nor even anything that could be etymologically nativized as such. Is it Polish instead?

  10. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:51 am

    @David Marjanović: Apparently the name Khovansky was derived from a toponym in northern Russia some time after the family got, erm, assimilated.

  11. AntC said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 5:56 am

    As well as Poe's Law, and the one about a lie getting round the town while the truth is still getting its boots laced up …

    What's the name for taking the appearance of a truth on a fact-checking website as ipso facto evidence that that's what they want you to think, and therefore it can't possible be true?

    Case in point: amongst this farrago (on the Twitter thread) is a claim the U.S. Government is trying to cover up what these biolabs are doing. Politifact established the biolabs' fact sheets had gotten their urls in a twist.

    One of New Zealand's very own conspiracy theorists then reported (at several hands removed) that "we all know" Politifact peddles lies, and the very fact they'd gone to lengths to fact-check is clear evidence the U.S. Government has something to hide.

    (I apologise for relaying a Youtube link to vacuous nonsense, but I thought I'd better produce my evidence.)

    And thank you to @Jarek for some actual facts.

  12. Scott P. said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 6:53 am

    Cf. Polish ojcowizna '(obsolete) one's father's land' (as in, the actual plot of farmland, not 'fatherland' in the sense of the country).

    As in 'patrimony'?

  13. Andrew Usher said,

    March 21, 2022 @ 9:11 pm

    I, too, do not wish to repeat any of the nonsense. So let me just say finally that there is nothing at all remarkable about Trump's production of the word 'China'; nothing of the sort one would notice had he been intending any such thing.

    And in general, the noticeable features of Trump's speech were those of style, not accent or dialect; and to a large extent, I thought, merely an extreme version of the typical style of politicians.

    k_over_hbarc at

  14. CuConnacht said,

    March 22, 2022 @ 1:00 pm

    With the proviso that I know no Slavic language, the great purges conducted under NKVD head Nikolai Yezhov in 1937-38 were known (at the time or soon thereafter) as the Yezhovshchina, so the -shchina suffix was apparently productive back then.

  15. GH said,

    March 24, 2022 @ 8:45 am



  16. V said,

    March 27, 2022 @ 3:31 pm

    -щина is currently marginally productive in Bulgarian.

  17. ,V said,

    March 27, 2022 @ 4:59 pm

    Mildly derogatory, in the manner of X.

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