New Chinese Buzz words for 2020 released by LIVAC Pan-Chinese linguistic database

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact around the globe. It has become the theme underlying many new terms, according to the 2020 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters released by the Department of Linguistics and Translation of City University of Hong Kong (CityU). 

The hottest new term in the Pan-Chinese media is “Stay-At-Home Order”, while “Support Hubei”, “Prohibition on Group Gathering”, and “American Pigs” are the top new words in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, respectively. 

The rosters are based on the LIVAC Synchronous Corpus in Chinese developed by Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Emeritus Professor of CityU’s Department of Linguistics and Translation.

These new terms reflect the life and times of 2020. Among the 20 new terms, 12 have been created during, or are related to, the pandemic. They include disease prevention and control regulations, healthcare workers, ways of using the internet for work and entertainment, and economic policies for rebooting the economy. Wearing a mask and maintaining social distance become the norm this year, and the internet has become the medium for communication and development. 

While the Pan-Chinese regions commonly focus on the coronavirus, the three communities have different second priorities in terms of development. 

Beijing has concentrated on economic recovery and aerospace science and technology. It conducted the “Two Initiatives and One Major Project”, referring to new infrastructure and urbanisation initiatives and other major projects. The launch of “Chang'e 5”, which brought lunar soil and rock samples back, was also well noted. However, the Pan-Chinese media did not put as much focus on this story compared to previous Moon landing project. 

Hong Kong has focused mainly on the restoration of social stability and a return to progressive development. The new term “Mutual Destruction Theory” is related to the social unrest, which continued from last year. To cope, the Hong Kong government has implemented the “National Security Law”, and the police introduced the “Purple Flag” as a warning to protesters during demonstrations. 

Taiwan tends to address more local and social issues such as the import of American pigs, which contain ractopamine chemicals, the impeachment of Han Kuo-yu as the former mayor of Kaohsiung and presidential candidate, and the phenomenon of outbound workers. 

The rosters are sorted by the frequency of new words in Chinese-language newspapers in the Pan-Chinese region and based on an analysis of print media materials processed by the LIVAC (Linguistic Variations in Chinese Speech Communities) database (, which systematically analyses language used by the media in the Pan-Chinese region, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

The database has analysed over 600 million words from major press outlets in the Pan-Chinese region since 1995, and the LIVAC databank has accumulated about 2.5 million words. 

The relevant meaning and background information on the new words can be found below and the website

2020 LIVAC Pan-Chinese New Word Rosters:

Pan- Chinese

Stay-At-Home Order



Heroes in harm’s way



National Security Law



Livestream Sales



Cloud-based Conference Call



Support Hubei



Two initiatives and one major project


Health Kit






Chang'e 5


Hong Kong

Prohibition on Group Gathering


Mutual Destruction Theory


Purple Flag



Employment Support Scheme


Online Concert



American Pigs



Triple Stimulus Vouchers


Han Recall






Outbound worker



Media enquiries:

Karen Cheng, Communications and Public Relations Office (Tel: 3442 6805 or 9201 8895)
Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Department of Linguistics and Translation (Tel: 5487 5662)


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