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China Censorship Government The Media

Chinese Government Moves To Crack Down On Puns 156

FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "A story in The Guardian tells us that in an Orwellian move to legislate language, the Chinese government is attempting to stop the use of puns because they are disruptive and may lead to chaos (not the mathematical kind) and as such are unsuitable for use. However, Chinese is rife with puns, with this example quoted in the story: "When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or 'May you soon give birth to a son.' The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng." The powerful date and peanut lobbies are up in arms, claiming that such a ban will cost them more than peanuts. Their claim? "If you outlaw puns. Only criminals will have puns."
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Chinese Government Moves To Crack Down On Puns

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  • Woman who fly upside down have hairy crack up.

    The Chinese government can bite me now.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @09:45PM (#48535999) Journal

    We'll see how that works out for them.

    • We'll see how that works out for them.

      One of the worst things a Government can do is make people laugh at it.

      • One of the worst things a Government can do is make people laugh at it.

        A tyrant fears the laugh more than the assassin's bullet. -Robert Heinlein

      • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

        Mahatma Gandhi

        • by Anonymous Coward

          First they march you through hundreds of miles of jungle without food or water, then they shoot you, then they disembowel you, then you lose.

          Mahatma Gandhi, had Japan won WW2

      • Actually, one of the worst things you could do TO a totalitarian government is to laugh about them.

        Totalitarian regimes rely on fear and intimidation. Both go out the window once you see that the emperor has no clothes.

        • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Saturday December 06, 2014 @10:25AM (#48537789) Journal

          Actually, one of the worst things you could do TO a totalitarian government is to laugh about them.


          Totalitarian regimes rely on fear and intimidation. Both go out the window once you see that the emperor has no clothes.

          Also nope.

          The actual quote mentions a TYRANT. A singular ruler whose power relies heavily on personal reputation.
          Misapplying that to a regime at best makes you misinformed. At worst disappeared.

          A totalitarian government is NOT one that NEEDS fear and intimidation to rule. It's a government that already HAS you by the balls.
          It does not need fear or intimidation. That's for petty dictatorships. A totalitarian government has CONTROL over rules and laws.
          I.e. It does not need to intimidate you into not drinking alcoholic beverages. It just makes it illegal.

          So, because it is aware of its own power, it is perfectly fine with letting you get your rocks off at its expense - as it knows that all it has to do is squeeze for your laughter to become a squeal.
          And it also knows that if it lets you bark at it you will never get frustrated enough to bite, while it can dismiss you with a wave of a hand "proving its openness to criticism".
          If you do eventually bite... well, you're clearly a mad dog. Just look at all your history of constant barking.

          It's totalitarian cause it already has all the power and control. It doesn't need fear nor does it fear ridicule.
          Only those who DO NOT have absolute power, but pretend that they do, fear laughter.

          • Nope.

            psst.... We're having fun here. Isn't there a "Women in STEM careers" thread you can spread your sunshine around in somewhere? Otherwise, have some Pun! You know a good pun is it's own re-word.

            • Actually, the parent is afraid of totalitarian governments. And that is a very real fear. But anyone that has measured the size of Rome, and the Forbidden Palace knows that they are not a big as they use to be; why? We will see how well the new super power has learned from not reading histories.
          • Interesting, how this applies just well to all western governments also ;)
        • China is more authoritarian than totalitarian. N. Korea would be an example of a totalitarian regime.
      • One of the worst things a Government can do is make people laugh at it.

        In no particular order... war, recession, genocide, ecological disaster, government prescribed religion, concentration camps, fascism, disbanding of social services, police state...

        All far worse and clearly in a different category from "make people laugh at it".

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Because most people's roommates don't speak mandarin,
      link to explanation

      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        Ok I am bad at html apparently, good luck - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]
          link attempt #2 [wikipedia.org]

      • Hadlock has the correct link to that 2009 meme, but that meme had existed way before the advent of the Net

        The word "Grass", or in Chinese "Cao", sounds like another word, to put it in "family term", sexual intercourse

        The word "Mud", or in Chinese "Ni", sounds a lot like the word that carries the meaning of "You"

        The word "Horse", in Chinese "Ma", is a root-character in Chinese, for many Chinese characters has "Ma" (or Horse) embedded, including the character that represents "Mother" (also pronounce as "Ma" i

        • Another fun pun, is that the word for "grandmother" is the same as the word for "boobs".
          So, you can ask a girl "Can I see your grandmother?"
          If she says yes, great.
          If she gets upset, you can backtrack, and say that you just wanted to meet her family.

          • by narcc ( 412956 )

            Another fun pun, is that the word for "grandmother" is the same as the word for "boobs".

            ... I'd love to know how that happened ...

            • by Anonymous Coward

              It could be worse, in Japanese "daddy" is a homonym for "tits."

        • by cciRRus ( 889392 )
          You gave a detailed explanation of "ni" and "ma" but the most important word "cao" was briefly explained. Whoever's interested, check out the etymology of "cao". [wiktionary.org] :)
    • That "State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television" is nothing but a bunch of imbecile pencil pushers

      If they think that they can change a culture which has 7,000 years of history behind it, with an "official edict" they better stand in front of a big mirror

      Chinese history is filled with many attempt of cultural engineering - and in the 7,000 years of history, only two succeeded

      Confucianism and chop-sticks

      • Oh, come on, the Qin emperor, bless his tiny meglomaniacal heart managed at least two successful ones. His standardization of the written system and massive book burning were both hugely effective and influential to this day. (One could probably make some kind of argument around the great wall for a third, though casting something which was a massive defense project AND a means of disposing of malcontents as cultural engineering would at least take effort.)

        The recent standardization of the spoken language i

    • Could be that's why they're doing this, so that the next time someone starts talking about River Crabs [wikipedia.org] they can more easily do something about it, though if so I'm not sure what's stopping them already.

  • by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @09:46PM (#48536007) Homepage Journal

    I saw this article recently on ThePunion.com, I'm sure of it.

    • I saw this article recently on ThePunion.com, I'm sure of it.

      Agreed, this reminds of one of those times when a paper in China or Russia rips a story from the Onion.

      It still might be legit, according to the article:

      But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”

      Which is plausible as random bureaucrats sometimes issue brain dead rules which are quickly forgotten once the laughter dies down.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Next up....

      Strict prohibition against with life jail term or execution for: calling out hoaxes, creating hoaxes, pointing out lies by government or powerful companies, Hyperbole, Toilet humor, and Sarcasm.

  • I laughed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @09:49PM (#48536023) Homepage Journal

    "If you outlaw puns. Only criminals will have puns."

    I'll admit, as a 2nd amendment proponent I laughed out loud at this one.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @10:01PM (#48536099)

      Thoes who pun will be PUNished.
      That right I will be here all night. (Away from human contact like I should)

    • by Barny ( 103770 )

      I solve practical problems. Like how do I stop some mean-ol' mother-hubbard from [figuratively] tearing me a structurally superfluous behind?

      The answer, is a pun.

      And if that don't work... use more pun!

    • Use a pun, go to prison.


      • Use a pun, go to prison.


        Thank's everyone. I had work to do so I couldn't go on a gun = pun sloganfest, thanks for taking up the slack!

        "This is my rifle and this is my pun; this is for fighting and this is for fun!"

    • by eric31415927 ( 861917 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @11:42PM (#48536525)

      Puns don't kill people, comedians with puns kill people.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      How did that military service as the price for military issue gun ownership go? You didn't do it? Oh so you've twisted that amendment so that it's a right without responsibility - what a clever little coward you are.
      It's pathetic that a sporting club full of cowards who cannot properly manage their sport have bought so much influence in Washington.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Firethorn ( 177587 )

        How did that military service as the price for military issue gun ownership go?

        1. That's your requirement, not mine.
        2. Besides, 'everyone' is part of the militia(pretty much).
        3. Finally, the amendment specifies the people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The militia clause more means that if the government felt the need it could call the appropriate people up(fit, not to old, etc...) for mandatory militia training, whether they owned a firearm or not. Matter of fact, in the early militia acts they could force you to purchase a suitable weapon once notified of

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          Besides, 'everyone' is part of the militia(pretty much)

          How convenient. No responsibility required. Carry on then, maybe cut that flag into strips to clean your guns since it's not doing anything useful.

          • How convenient. No responsibility required.

            Ah, I suggest you have a talk with somebody if you think that responsibility only grows out of participation in the military, and or at the direction of the government.

            It's probably shocking to you, but I think you should have demonstrated enough responsibility for a firearm by the time you're graduating high school, instilled by your parents, the schools, community, and life in general.

            The military can only do so much, and has gotten out of most of the 'teaching responsibility' game. It's no longer big en

      • Upon review, I'm going to conclude that you're just hurt that I have a sense of humor and you don't.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From all over the internet, punsters will hear the call of this thread, and they will come. They will post. Puns.

    It is the End Times, I'm afraid.

  • by Anonymous Coward


  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @09:51PM (#48536045)

    ... I don't know whether to slap my chin or knees.

  • hey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @09:52PM (#48536049)
    Many man smoke, but Fu Man Chu.
  • Then there was the Chinese Stud - One Hung Lo.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately, american-ised puns like that while mildly humorous, are shallow at best - generally focusing just on mild word play.

    • by Eberlin ( 570874 )

      It was actually a legendary family. There was Dong Hung Lo who had two sons. One son was named Wang Hung Lo. The other, first one born in America, was named Richard.

  • Everyone knows that, and they will not succeed, as always.
  • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @10:00PM (#48536095)
    Chinese pundits frequently opine upun political matters with clever word play. It's much more difficult to use automated search for all the combinations of characters that can phunetically mean something political. Those seeking a "harmonious society" therefore hate the practice.
    • Without a pun, pundits would just be dits.

      The way I see it, China's just banned a whole class of lame jokes, presumably for mental health reasons. Maybe this'll force people to start using proper double entendres instead. I for one am looking forward to a whole new generation of insults.

  • Seriously, I can't tell if this is some kind of Kafka joke. Or if the level of cognitive dissonance their leaders has achieved is some new type of weapon. Either way, it's giving me a headache. o.o;;
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Authoritarian politics tends to reduce itself to Kafka jokes after a while. Arbitrary madness is easier than proper governance.
  • we must punish the puny pundits with punty of punalties

  • Guizi (Chinese: ; pinyin: guzi) is a Chinese slang term for foreigners, and has a long history of being used as a racially depreciating insult. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

    (Also posted below before it hit the front page)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they want to get out of puns they need to get a new language. My wife is Chinese and explains to me all the time about all the puns.

  • No, no, bite the wax tadpole [snopes.com]. Don't cook it with baking soda and smoke it.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday December 05, 2014 @11:04PM (#48536365)
    Political power grows out of the barrel of a pun.
  • I have the feeling this is going to be one of those "Top 10 viral stories that where complete BS" on cracked.com in about a week.
    • by kesuki ( 321456 )

      well slashdot.jp is only 2 days behind slashdot.org for news articles so when this story hits there in 2 days there will probably be another day for the asians to figure it out then another two days for them to translate back to english for cracked....

  • stinks - you can tell if she hang high: a veritable fragrant harbour. I'd put money on it if, if I were to bet, but I have no mao money so I'll have to gweilo for a while.

  • Just so /. stays readable in China, can we have a list of phrases in English that translate into Chinese puns?

  • offenders are sent to the punitentiary

  • China isn't banning puns. They're disallowing news anchors from using them during broadcasts, specifically public media. But that's not fear mongering enough, so of course that's not how it got picked up.
    • It applies to anything televised, not just news anchors.
      • The news I got was from Taiwan, so we might not have the same sources. However, all the English articles I've seen either imply or directly state that it's a full on crackdown on everyone - no puns for any reason.
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      If news anchors run out of everything else they're allowed to say, they're liable to resort to actual journalism.

      Hmmm.... Maybe the West should try that...

  • but not first post.

    Hurts me tsu much.

  • before the advent of the Net
  • Mandarin works with one syllabus per character. There are 5000 characters (well, 2000 to read the newpaper), but 300 different syllabus. The language is extraordinary ambiguous.

    Disambiguation often works by sticking synonyms characters together to form a word. I can understand puns are a threat to the language interoperability. It must be a serious threat for China to use law against it.

  • "In the land of many laws, many laws are broken."
  • I don't speak Mandarin, but a language where a variation in tones can generate a different meaning must be ripe for puns. Given such a puntastic environment, I don't the government stands a chance.

  • I think there's a chink in their argument.

  • When inlaws are outlawed only outlaws will have inlaws.

  • Oh wait. That's a limmerick. Those are probably next.
  • ...that these moves are feints, made to be fighted against and to distract from the more serious oppressions. No other "sensical" explanation comes to mind.

  • ... is when KTVU News in San Francisco got praked into reporting fake Chinese names on live TV [nationalpost.com] as part of the story of the Asiana Flight 214 crash. As tragic as the crash was, it's one of the best pranks ever.
  • They're not punny. Outlaw them!
  • Seriously, i thik the chinnese government has to much free time if they are passing laws against puns

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost