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Chinglish enriches English vocabulary with Chinese features
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15:17, May 13, 2009

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With globalization, the use of English has reached far beyond native speaking countries. Being the international language, English has also experienced combination with local languages. Recently, the Chinese word of "chengguan", literally meaning urban management officers, became the latest new member of English vocabulary.

According to the Global Language Monitor, Chinglish (Chinese-English) has added the most spice (5 to 20 percent) to the alphabet soup of today's English by contributing more words than any other single global language source.

The word chengguan becomes world famous

The incident of a handbook circulated among urban management officers has put the word "chengguan" in the spotlight. According to UK newspaper The Times, "chengguan" refers to the local government enforcers who will usually be involved in some public clashes. Indian media says "chengguan" is mainly responsible for warding off the street vendors without licenses; while the Guardian put it as people employed to deal with low-level crime and disorder.

Chimerica brings China and US closer

Niall Ferguson, a US professor, came up with the term "Chimerica". He said it was a fantasy country that he dreamt up a couple of years ago, the economy you get when you add together China and America.

According to Ferguson's theory, the US, the world's largest consumer, and China, the world's largest depositor, established cooperation that could have an impact upon global economy.

"Bu zheteng" beat all the interpreters

During a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, Chinese president Hu Jintao used a very colloquial Chinese phrase of "bu zheteng", which carried the meaning of don't get sidetracked. It is a common phrase in north China, but at the time it baffled all the interpreters.

When journalists asked questions concerning "bu zheteng" at a regular press conference held by the State Council Information Office, the interpreters there simply rendered it into pinyin, to the amusement of the entire assembly of journalists. Perhaps "bu zheteng" will become an English-language proper noun in the future.

Chinglish witnesses changes in China

Chinglish can reflect the trend of the times in China. There are many words in Chinese history and culture, such as Four Books, Chinese classic texts that serve as an introduction to Confucianism; Five Classics, a corpus of five ancient Chinese books used by Confucianism as the basis of study; dazibao, the big-character poster; and so on. Phrases such as knowledge economy, and peaceful rise recount changes brought by reform and opening up.

Additionally, many Chinese words and phrases, such as, long time no see, a phrase used when people haven't seen each other in a while; drinktea; kongfu, Chinese martial arts; jiaozi, Chinese dumpling; feng shui, an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to utilize the law of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi; as well as Qingming, have already become standard English terms.

By People's Daily Online

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