College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
New Words in Media Reflect Hot Topics in Pan-Chinese regions

The use of words in the media keeps evolving. New ones emerge, old ones fade away. Released recently, the 2019 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters reveal the most frequently-used new words in Chinese-language newspaper in the Pan-Chinese regions last year. 

The rosters are based on the data analysed by the LIVAC Synchronous Corpus in Chinese (泛華語地區漢語共時語料庫) developed by Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Translation. The system has been maintained since 1995 to analyse words from the Pan-Chinese printed media. By 2019 it has processed around 680 million characters, resulting in a dictionary of 2.3 million entries.

The new terms used by media in Hong Kong, Beijing and Taiwan are highly relevant to the political and social situation in their own regions. In Hong Kong, for example, the social unrest in the second half of 2019 lead to the appearance of yellow/blue shops (黃店/藍店, which means shops which support pro-democracy / pro-government stance respectively) and first-time marchers (首行族, which means people who join a demonstration for the first time). The other three new terms used locally are silver hair cards (銀齡卡), workout mirror (健身鏡) and insurance connect (保險通), which are related to newly proposed policies and technology. In Beijing, the new terms mainly come from latest policies of the country, such as Xi’s Five-Points (習五條) and Go Cashless (去現金化). As for Taiwan, four out of the five listed terms are linked to the political spectrum and the recent election. 

On the other hand, international affairs are more salient when looking at the most representative new terms used by the media in the broader pan-Chinese regions. These terms concern the UK leaving the European Union (Brexit Party脫歐黨), the abdication of the throne by Emperor Akihito and the start of the new era (Reiwa令和), and the Trump-Ukraine scandal (Ukraine Gate烏克蘭門).

Lists of the most mentioned people in Pan-Chinese media, according to the words processed by the same corpus, are also announced. Besides political figures of Hong Kong, Beijing and Taiwan, several foreign leaders including the president of the US Donald Trump, the prime minister of the UK Boris Johnson, the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un, the president of France Emmanuel Macron, the president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro are also among the lists of all three places.