China’s General Administration of Press and Publication has ordered Chinese newspapers, publishers and websites to stop using foreign words and acronyms. Chinese media has also been ordered to avoid using examples of the Chinese/English linguistic Frankenstein monster known as “Chinglish.”
According to the People’s Daily Online, the new rules were put into place to protect the Chinese language and to make sure that news is intelligible to all Mandarin speakers, whether they speak English or not:
“Abuse of foreign languages, including arbitrary use of English words; acronym mixing in Mandarin and coined half-English, half-Chinese terms that are intelligible to nobody, are commonly seen. All these have seriously damaged to the purity of the Chinese language and resulted in adverse social impacts to the harmonious and healthy cultural environment.”
To make sure that everyone can understand the news, when foreign words must be used they are required to be translated. Ensuring that everyone can understand what’s on the evening news is a laudable goal, and there’s nothing wrong with expecting professional media outlets to use proper grammar, but protecting the “purity” of the language may be an uphill battle. Also, having to translate or explain even commonly understood acronyms creates unnecessary hassles for both news professionals and consumers.
One anonymous editor from Beijing told China.org that he believed the new regulations were too strict:
“The intention of protecting the Chinese language is good. But in an age of globalization, when some English acronyms like WTO (World Trade Organization) have been widely accepted by readers, it might be too absolute to eliminate them in all publications. Conversationally, people also use these words all the time, so the regulation could create discord between the oral and written uses of language.”