"Double pan"

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Whatever that means.

That's what we get when we enter into AI translation software (GT, Baidu, Bing, DeepL) this key term — "双泛" — from this important policy document concerning the governance of Xinjiang issued by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the CCP.

Shuāng 双 is simple:  it means "double".  Fair enough.  But 泛 in this disyllabic expression is notoriously difficult to deal with.  It can be pronounced either fàn, in which case it means  "to float on water; to drift; to spread out; to be suffused with; to flood; to overflow; superficial; non-specific; extensive; general; pan-; careless; reckless", fěng, in which case it means "to turn over; to topple over; to be destroyed; to be defeated; to fall", or fá, in which case it signifies the sound of water.

From all of these sounds and meanings, we need to focus on fàn ("pan-"), which phonologically has nothing to do with Greek pan- > English pan- (unless you believe in some sort of IE-Sinitic crossover [it's also in Tocharian]).

In the context of the lately much debated CCP document introduced at the outset of this post, what does shuāngfàn 双泛 stand for?  To better understand the context, here is the core sentence of the document in which it occurs:

wǒmen yángé luòshí yìshíxíngtài gōngzuò zérènzhì , duānzhèng lìshǐwénhuà rènzhī , jiàoyù yǐndǎo gèzúqúnzhòng zhù láo zhōngguóxīn 、 zhōnghuáhún 。 gǒnggù zhuàngdà zhǔliú sīxiǎng yúlùn , shēnrù jiànxíng shèhuìzhǔyì héxīn jiàzhíguān , qiánghuà xuānchuán sīxiǎng wénhuājiàoyù zhèndì guǎnlǐ , jiāqiáng wǎngluò kōngjiān zhìlǐ ,qízhìxiānmíngpīpàn“ shuāng fàn ”cuòwù sīcháo。


We strictly implement the ideological work responsibility system, correct historical and cultural cognition, educate and guide the people of all ethnic groups to forge a Chinese heart and a Chinese soul. Consolidate and strengthen the mainstream ideology and public opinion, deeply practice the socialist core values, strengthen the management of propaganda, ideological and cultural education positions, strengthen cyberspace governance, and clearly criticize the "double pan" [VH:  –> "double pan-"] erroneous trend of thought.


In this government policy statement, shuāngfàn 双泛 ("double pan-") refers to Pan-Islamism and Pan-Turkism, the twin bugaboos facing the CCP in Eastern Central Asia.


Selected readings

[Thanks to Anders Corr]


  1. John Swindle said,

    July 18, 2023 @ 8:28 pm

    Wikipedia has a page disambiguating English-language uses of "Pan Pan." Most notable is a standard international voice radio call announcing an urgent (but not yet emergency) condition for which help may be needed. It's not clear whether this would include Pan-Islamism or Pan-Turkism.

  2. wanda said,

    July 19, 2023 @ 12:15 am

    Does "the ideological work responsibility system" mean the forced labor camps? Does "correct historical and cultural cognition" mean outlawing traditional names and religion? Which one of these buzzwords covers the forced sterilizations?

  3. Michael said,

    July 19, 2023 @ 1:10 am

    "unless you believe in some sort of IE-Sinitic crossover [it's also in Tocharian]"

    Could you give us some more details on what you mean? Whether or not there's a crossover, anything you mention about Tocharian will be fascinating

  4. Victor Mair said,

    July 19, 2023 @ 7:24 am

    The so-called "double-pan" stands for "pan-Turkism" and "pan-Islamism," (双泛), the kind of ideologies or identities that the Chinese government finds threatening.


    Kurban Niyaz
    Senior Editor, Uyghur Service
    Radio Free Asia

  5. David Marjanović said,

    July 19, 2023 @ 10:57 am

    "unless you believe in some sort of IE-Sinitic crossover [it's also in Tocharian]"

    Could you give us some more details on what you mean?

    Wiktionary says: "Closely related to Mycenaean Greek (pa-si). From Proto-Indo-European *ph₂-ent- (whence Tocharian B po (“all, every”)), from *peh₂-." Of the cited sources, the one this must have been taken from is Beekes's etymological dictionary of Ancient Greek (2010), which is largely the state of the art.

  6. Chris Button said,

    July 20, 2023 @ 1:34 pm

    Might be worth noting that 泛 originally had an -m coda that dissimilated in the environment of the bilabial onset quite late. Some words in the phonetic series dissimilated earlier, which leads people to sometimes mistakenly reconstruct words like 般 with an -n coda in OC, but the written evidence going all the way back to the inscriptions shows an -m to be original (the lefthand phonetic component in 般 is originally 凡 with its -m coda).

  7. Jonathan Smith said,

    July 21, 2023 @ 6:35 pm

    @Chris Button

    Since you've claimed repeatedly on LL that all (?) published work on early Chinese is in error in suggesting an early -n coda in "般", and that it actually had an -m coda (leaving aside that it's no totally clear what word you mean here), it's worth pointing out the the normal assumption is in fact extremely sound:

    — literary layers of a number of dialects (most of Hakka?) retain the contrast between -m coda in words like 'all' ("凡"), 'sail' ("帆"), etc., vs. -n coda in words like 'plate' ("盤"), (related) 'turn around ("盤" "般") , 'move' "搬", etc. So no suggestion in daughter languages that words represented with "般" actually had -m at some early stage. Add this to the medieval lexicographical treatments.

    — "般" appears within some (slant-)rhyming disyllables in early literature where the other syllable has -n… no reason to think the syllable represented "般" was not also -n

    — "般" is also on occasion borrowed to write -n words not -m words…

    etc. So it seems your new idea is just based on a novel thought about early writing. But

    — your assumption about the early forms of "般" is unfounded — no reason at all to suppose "凡" is phonetic here; rather the character's two components represent an action "turning around." This is normal for forms using "殳". The "turn around" semantics is key and retained in modern languages esp. in words written "盤". Indeed "般" means 'turn around/away' in early texts…

  8. Chris Button said,

    July 21, 2023 @ 11:47 pm

    @ Jonathan Smith

    I would recommend starting with the 凡庚 ~ 般庚 alternation in spelling for Pan Geng 盤庚 in the oracle-bone inscriptions and then follow that up with a critical examination of the proposals by various academics for the use of 凡 for 般 or 盤/槃 elsewhere in the inscriptions.

  9. Jonathan Smith said,

    July 22, 2023 @ 5:48 pm

    @Chris Button

    I acknowledge your frustration and your interest in the early inscriptions. While I'm not personally big on traditional bona fides, if you do eventually hope to offer ideas that those working in the field(s) will take seriously, you'll need to begin working on one of the relevant languages — these (and associated written materials) are the foundation stones.

    Wrt to my comment above, we can put things more simply:
    Q: Why do current approaches to early Chinese all separate 'plate (n.)', etc., in coda *-n, from 'in all cases', etc., in coda *-m, despite Chris Button's insistence on the internet that this is clearly wrong?
    A: Because of evidence from the relevant languages and written materials.

    It seems you are not in a position to engage with this evidence, leading to some sort of inferiority complex that tends to surface as terse compensatory insistence that Literally Everyone is Totally Missing Obvious Truths.

    Re: the early inscriptions — your central would-be interest where Chinese is concerned — I've reminded you repeatedly that these are to be considered *in light of* the kinds of evidence referenced just above in particular *actual words of actual languages*. So again wrt the matter at hand: if one takes the view that the left-hand side of the OBI form commonly represented "般" first wrote the *word* 'plate/vessel', we would be dealing here with the closely related *-n *words* 'plate (n.)' ~ 'coil; turn around (v.)'. This would offer one possible way of understanding the king name (Mand.) "Pan2 Geng1" in terms of written forms and meaning, and a framework within which it would be OK, if imprecise, to call the compound graphic form in question "phono-semantic".

    However, we would *not* on such a treatment (NB: who knows if it is correct) want to equate the left-hand component with the modern form "凡". I don't know the real history of literal "凡" — this form has of late been abandoned in favor of "同" for representation of the stand-alone OBI form "capital-H but with two cross-strokes". The question needs to be considered by reference to *words* of "languages*, esp. the word 'in all cases'. Whoever wants to do this will need language + reading chops.

    BTW — the answer is an emphatic YES, Chinese historical linguists could in theory all be wrong and you right, with 'plate', 'all cases', etc. actually all having early coda *-m and with an unconditioned and untraceable shift -m > -n in select words yielding the attested situation at some early stage. But it seems to be a bad idea on current evidence.

  10. Chris Button said,

    July 22, 2023 @ 11:13 pm

    @ Jonathan Smith

    you'll need to begin working on one of the relevant languages

    For how long and where did you conduct linguistic fieldwork? What was the language (or languages)?

    I don't know the real history of literal "凡"

    Yes, I don't think you do either. Does anyone dispute that the OBI form in question should be transcribed as 凡 and that it is used in 凡庚 "Pan Geng" (盤庚)?

    It has certainly been argued that 凡 could have been used to represent 同 (which is indeed 凡 + 口), but at least in the "… 凡有疾" case (discussed by Qiu Xigui 1999), I prefer Takashima's interpretation of 汎 there. In any case, it has no bearing on this discussion.

    … actual words of actual languages …

    Might I recommend Matisoff's (1968) review of Burling's "Proto-Lolo-Burmese" where Matisoff chides Burling for rejecting written Burmese as a source of evidence? Of course, inscriptional Burmese helps even more. And yet, much like with Old Chinese, people don't seem to make much use of the earliest inscriptions outside of isolated examples. Its a shame, and unfortunately often reflects similar dabbles in phonetics and phonology.

    Now let's take a look at the Lolo-Burmese forms for "sour" in STEDT and play spot the medial -l-:

    tɕin³⁵  Achang (Luxi)
    tshɛn⁵⁵  Achang (Xiandao)
    hyain  Arakanese
    tʃɔ̱n⁵⁵  Bola (Luxi)
    tɕhĩ²²  Burmese (Rangoon)
    hcin  Burmese (Standard Spoken)
    tɕhĩ²²  Burmese (Spoken Rangoon)
    khjɑȵ̂²  Burmese (Written)
    khjɑȵ̂²  Burmese (Written)
    khlañ  Burmese (Inscriptional)
    khyañ  Burmese (Written)
    khyan  Burmese (Inscriptional)
    khyañ  Burmese (Written)
    khyañ  Burmese (Written)
    khyaññ  Burmese (Written)
    hcin  Intha
    tʃi̱ŋ³¹  Langsu (Luxi)
    tʃi̱ːn³³  Leqi (Luxi)
    khyɔiŋ  Marma
    c'ìn  Maru [Langsu]
    tʃi̱ŋ³¹  Maru [Langsu]
    hyin  Tavoyan
    tʃi̱n⁵¹  Atsi [Zaiwa]
    tʃi̱n⁵¹  Atsi [Zaiwa]
    tsɛ²⁴  Gazhuo
    tjí  Lalo
    tɕi⁵⁵  Lalo
    tse³³  Lipho
    tʂe³³  Nasu
    tʂi¹³  Neisu
    tɕe⁵⁵  Nesu
    tɕɪ³³  Nosu
    kiɑ⁵⁵  Nusu (Southern)
    tɕɛ̱³¹  Nusu (Northern)
    tɕɚ³³  Nusu (Central)
    tʂəʴ³⁵  Nusu (Bijiang)
    tsɿ³³  Yi (Dafang)
    ndʐɿ³⁴-  Yi (Liangshan)
    ʦhɿ⁵⁵  Yi (Liangshan)
    ʦhɿ⁵⁵ - Yi (Liangshan)
    ʨi³³  Yi (Liangshan)
    tɕi³³(-) Yi (Mile)
    tɕe⁵⁵  Yi (Mojiang)
    tɕe³³  Yi (Nanhua)
    tɕe⁵⁵  Yi (Nanhua)
    tɕi⁵⁵  Yi (Nanjian)
    tɕi⁵⁵  Yi (Weishan)
    tʂe³³  Yi (Wuding)
    tɕi³³  Yi (Xide)
    tɕi³³  Yi (Xide)
    tɕi³³  Ahi
    -tʃhə⁴⁴  Jinuo
    -tʃhɯ³³  Jinuo
    - tʃhə⁴⁴  Jinuo (Youle)
    tɕi33  Kucong
    tɕi³³  Lahu (Lancang)
    ci⪤ce  Lahu (Black)
    tsi³³  Lahu (Black)
    tɕe¹  Lahu (Yellow)
    chē³  Lisu
    chē³  Lisu (Central)
    -tɕɯ³³  Lisu (Northern)
    tʃɯ⁴⁴  Lisu
    tɕɯ³³  Lisu (Northern)
    tɕɯ³³- Lisu (Northern)
    tɕɯ³³- Lisu (Northern)
    tɕɯ̱³³  Lisu
    tɕe⁵⁵  Yi (Sani)
    tɕɪ³³  Sani [Nyi]
    jɔ tjhɛ́  Akha (Yunnan)
    tjhɛ́  Akha
    tjhɛ́  Akha (Thai)
    -chén  Bisu
    tjhɛ́  Hani (Lüchun)
    tɕhe⁵⁵  Hani (Dazhai)
    tɕhe⁵⁵  Hani (Lüchun)
    tshý  Hani (Pijo)
    tshɤ⁵⁵  Hani (Caiyuan)
    tɕhɛ⁵⁵  Hani (Gelanghe)
    tʃhɛ⁵⁵  Hani (Shuikui)
    tshý  Hani (Khatu)
    tʃhɛ⁵⁵  Hani (Mojiang)
    tɕhe⁵  Mpi
    tɕhe⁵  Mpi
    -chen45  Pyen
    -tɕhɯ55  Sila
    ʨi⁴⁴  Azha
    ʨɛ³³  Southern Muji
    ʨi̠⁵⁵  Phola
    ʦɿ³³  Hlepho Phowa
    ʨɛ³³  Phuza

    (Hint: It says "inscriptional" next to it)

  11. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    July 24, 2023 @ 6:10 am

    Okay, I've got the popcorn, but whom are we supposed to be rooting for here?

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