Changing Times Reflected In New Chinese Dictionary

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Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish have more on the first new edition in seven years of the Modern Chinese Dictionary. It's published by the government-run Commercial Press and reflects the country's giddy rise to wealth, its growing environmental awareness, and the dark side of one-party rule.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

The new edition of the "Modern Chinese Dictionary" contains 3,000 new words. It's been seven years since the last edition, and changing times have meant a changing vocabulary for the world's largest nation.

SIEGEL: The government runs the publishing company, so this is the official reflection of what is being said in China. Here are some words that make it to the new edition for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

CORNISH: That means living on the big money or sugar daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

SIEGEL: This is a term that would be considered offensive by U.S. standards.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

SIEGEL: It means bananaman, a Westernized person of Asian appearance implying yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

CORNISH: This word applies to hush money paid to a wayward journalist to withhold a story. The term is literally seal mouth fee.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

SIEGEL: Once again, a term from the shadier side of modern Chinese life. This means to buy a position or title.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

CORNISH: This one means angry youth, young people on the streets but mostly the Internet who are patriotic and nationalistic.

SIEGEL: And there's at least one word that is not given its newest definition in the 2012 "Contemporary Chinese Dictionary."

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

SIEGEL: Traditionally, it meant comrade, but it's been used by gay Chinese people to refer to one another. The lead editor of the dictionary said in a TV interview that he knows about the newer meaning, but he said we don't want to advocate or bring attention to such things.

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