CityU releases 2009 Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters

Language Information Sciences Research Centre

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The Language Information Sciences Research Centre (LISRC) of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) released on 30 December its 2009 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters. Among the thousands of new Chinese words from the Chinese printed media in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei, the following five new words were the most prominent and found in all four communities:

  1. 甲流 (Influenza A, also known as H1N1 or swine flu) - A swine-origin influenza spread from Mexico in March 2009.
  2. 八八水災 (August 8th Flood) - Flash floods in southern Taiwan brought by typhoon Morakot in early August, which accumulated about 1,000mm rain over five days.
  3. 巧實力 (Smart power) - Endorsed by Hilary Clinton to reassert the influence of the US on the globe by means of military, diplomacy and trade.
  4. 民族柱 (Pillars of 56 nationalities) - The 56 pillars, representing the 56 nationalities in China, stood in Tiananmen Square when the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 60th anniversary.
  5. 富二代 (Affluent second generation) - The children born after the 1980s who have inherited much wealth from their parents (the affluent first generation) and are beginning to exert their influence.

“These new words in the major Chinese communities reflect the most significant global and local events of collective concern in 2009, including the H1N1 flu, the flood in southern Taiwan, as well as the celebration of the PRC’s 60th anniversary and concern of the younger generation,” said Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Director of LISRC.

The four communities have separate new word rosters, which reflect concerns relating to the daily lives and livelihood, as well as the political concerns of each community. Of particular interest on the political front is the emergence of the new term in Taipei “一中三憲” (one China, three constitutions), which assumes a “one-country” approach, an inconceivable idea under Chen Shui-bian’s tenure as president in Taiwan.

The roster was based upon systematic surveys and rigorous analysis of the Chinese news media in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei undertaken in the Linguistic Variations in Chinese Speech Communities (LIVAC) project in the last 12 months. The full New Word Rosters for individual communities can also be found at http://www.livac.org/newword/ .

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