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‘I Titanicked’: Chinese teens say this instead of ‘I failed my test’

The Straits Times, 17 January 2001

Dismayed by the use of foreign slang, China has adopted a new law to preserve the Chinese language

BEIJING - Twenty years of opening up to the outside world has led to linguistic chaos in China as many begin peppering their usage of the Chinese language with foreign phrases and expressions.

To curb such a trend, the government has now adopted the country's first language law.

The law, which became effective on Jan 1, requires broadcast and print media to use standard Chinese - that means the simplified written characters used by China and not the complex version used by Hongkong and Taiwan.

Billboards, advertisements and product labels are barred from using Chinese words incorrectly. In recent years, advertisement firms have taken to altering Chinese characters or phrases to turn heads and grab consumers' attention.

'We have 56 ethnic groups who speak 100 spoken languages and have 30 written languages. Things are already complicated enough. We're not saying there should only be one dialect in China, but everyone should be able to speak the same dialect. That's very important for national unity,' an Education Ministry spokesman said.

But the increasing impact of foreign cultures has seen words like 'WTO' and 'Internet' supplant their Chinese counterparts.

Instead of saying 'I failed my test', teenagers now say 'I Titanicked'.

The law goes as far as encouraging service workers in all public places, including civil servants and waiters, to speak proper Mandarin.

Employers should send them to classes to be 're-educated' if they do not, it says. --AFP