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Let languages grow freely

(People's Daily Online)

07:58, July 25, 2012

The sixth edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary has attracted much media and public attentions as previous editions did.

According to media reports, the new edition of the authoritative Chinese language dictionary keeps up with the times, and contains many new buzzwords such as the indoorsman, house of "two limits", group-oriented leasing, Beijing floater, car pool, angry young man, flash marriage, gold digging, bananaman, kindergarchy, ant tribe, and moonlight clan.

More and more Chinese people are beginning to coin and spread new words, which are a reflection of the ever-evolving folk language.

However, it remains debatable whether these new words should be included in the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary hastily. Language standardization is conducive to effective communication, but must stand the test of time and stay "a reasonable distance" away from the times.

During the period of the May Fourth Movement, the Chinese language saw an influx of new words, some of which remain in active use, but others such as fanyaling and sideke have vanished over time.

There also appeared many new buzzwords such as ten-thousand-yuan household, moonlighting, and profiteer in the early stages of the reform and opening-up, but many of these words are rarely used today.

Premature inclusion of these words in authoritative dictionaries would affect the self-purification and evolvement of the Chinese language. Language standardization is a complicated task as the language requires stability and inheritance as well as full freedom for self-development. Only when the accumulation of new elements reaches a certain threshold, it will be necessary to eliminate old elements and add new ones. Every living language is a collection of generally accepted expressions, and evolves over time.

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