CityU releases 2015 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters
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“National security bill” was the hottest new word in the Pan-Chinese media, and “lead disaster”, “Hatano card”, “Olympic Blue” and “Chins-up tribe” were respectively the top new words in Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, and Shanghai, according to the 2015 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters released by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on 4 February.
The rosters are based on the LIVAC synchronous corpus in Chinese (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIVAC_Synchronous_Corpus) created by Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Emeritus Professor of CityU’s Department of Linguistics and Translation.
The rosters are based on the frequency of occurrences of new words in Chinese-language newspapers in the Pan-Chinese region. The following table shows the five most prominent new words for the Pan-Chinese area and each of the four regions:
Most Representative Chinese New Words
1.安保法 (National security bill)
(Private car rental)
(Rent reduction trend)
(One trip per week)
(One China, one definition)
(Three Networks, One Industrialisation)
(Fee reduction, but speed increase)
(Web-based car rental)
(Internet play drama)
(Intractable second generation)
New words provide a kind of social and cultural dynamic indicator for a society. The Pan-Chinese region witnessed an eventful 2015 with influential political and social events helping to produce many new words, according to the LIVAC team.
“The new words appearing in Hong Kong and Taiwan rosters are concerned with politics and people’s livelihood, while those related to people’s daily lives dominate the Beijing and Shanghai rosters,” Professor T’sou said.
For example, the new “National security bill” engineered by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzō Abe, drew the most media attention in the Pan-Chinese region.
“The realisation of the ‘Xi-Ma meeting’ following the ‘Xi-Chu meeting’ has the potential to impact cross-strait relations,” Professor T’sou said.
In addition, new words relating to natural disasters, which caused enormous loss of life and destruction of property, such as “Dust explosion” at the Formosa Fun Coast in Taiwan and the “Tianjin explosion”, have impacted the feelings of people across the Taiwan Strait, the rosters suggest.
The “drinking-water lead scare” was one of the most significant incidents in Hong Kong in 2015, causing a great deal of concern among the population and leading to the emergence of related new words such as “lead disaster” and “lead panic”, among others. Meanwhile, the “Umbrella Movement” of 2014 has continued to develop and a new group of young political figures called the “Umbrella Tribe” have started to participate in the Hong Kong district council election.
In the economic arena, the “rent reduction trend” in Hong Kong shops and the “one trip per week” policy initiated by the mainland government emerged. Another hot topic was the complex political issue concerning the appointment of a Vice-President at the Council of the University of Hong Kong.
The Taipei media emphasised the controversial “Hatano card” in 2015 after the EasyCard Corporation issued travel cards depicting Japanese pornographic actress Hatano Yui. The proposal of “One China, one definition” advanced by Taiwanese politician Ms Hung Hsiu-chu caused great controversy. Considering the profound influence of the “Xi-Ma” and “Xi-Chu” meetings, the discussion of a possible “Tsai-Xi” meeting between Ms Tsai Ing-wen, the newly elected President of Taiwan, and Mr Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, is expected to get under way. The scandal of the Apache chopper visit showed a lack of discipline in Taiwan’s military, Professor T’sou said.
Beijing’s successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics turned the public’s attention to the expectation of “Olympic Blue”. The “Cut-hand Party”, members of which are obsessed with online overseas shopping, broke shopping records on 11 November. The promotion of “Three Networks and One Industrialisation” and industrial cooperation between China and Africa reflects the promising overall development of new strategic Sino-Africa relations. Benefiting people’s daily life, the policy of “fee reduction, but speed increase” issued by the three biggest telecom operators and “web-based car rental” in mainland China gained popularity.
The emergence of “Chins-up Tribe” in Shanghai is a strong message of positive energy as opposed to “Heads-bow Tribe” whose members are addicted to looking down at smartphones. The People’s Court of Shanghai took coercive measures called “Salary Project” about cases involving unpaid wages, and guaranteed the rights of the working-class. “Internet play drama” adapted from original internet novels has gained many followers on the mainland. In addition, in recent years, with reference to air pollution, Shanghai has been affected by haze. Therefore, in anticipation of the new Disneyland in Shanghai, citizens are hoping for “Disney Blue”, as in the case of “Olympic Blue”.
The LIVAC New Word Rosters are based on analyses of the print media materials processed by the LIVAC (Linguistic Variations in Chinese Speech Communities) database which systematically screens and analyses words used by the press in the Pan-Chinese region including Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei.
Since 1995, the database has analysed over 550 million words from the major press outlets in the Pan-Chinese region and has continuously accumulated nearly 2 million words in the LIVAC dictionary.
The relevant meaning and background information on the new words can be found on the website http://www.livac.org.