‘Add oil’ makes it into the OED (2,3)

I also have the similar question as Tina: the usage of “jiayou” as a cheer should be much earlier than 1960s. According to this article, the slang was first created on Qinghua campus in the 1920s, and later popularized by the CCP in the 1930s. But it’s still not clear if the “you” originally means “cooking oil” or “machinery oil,” or both.


Jin Liu <jin.liu@modlangs.gatech.edu>


Came across this on WeChaot about the origin of “add oil.” I did not try to verify its authenticity. Some might find it interesting.

Liang Shi
Miami University












‘Add oil’ makes it to the OED (1)

Just a note that while the article on ‘jiayou’ being added to the OED states “jiayou” is believed to have originated as a cheer at the Macau Grand Prix during the 1960s, readers of early 1950s PRC-reportage will be familiar with the use of the phrase in stories centred on mutual encouragement of comrades, particularly related to campaigns to overcome nature/environmental hardships when opening up ‘virgin land’ or bringing film to the countryside.

I’ve often wondered if the phrase was a reflection of a vernacular term being taken up in CCP reportage, or if the term emerged to reflect particular modes of socialist modernization premised on incorporation of industrialization/machinery/oil & electricity into everyday life.

Tina Chen <Tina.Chen@umanitoba.ca>

‘Add oil’ makes it to the OED

Source: SCMP (10/18/18)
‘Add oil’ entry in Oxford English Dictionary is just latest Cantonese phrase to hit mainstream
A look at the process and significance of landing a place in the world’s most authoritative record for the English language
By Ernest Kao

“Add oil” has been made an official term in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It follows a long list of other Cantonese terms and phrases to have entered the mainstream “Hong Kong English” lexicon and later wriggled into the world’s most authoritative record for the English language.

But why is a dictionary entry such a big deal? How does the process work? And what does it tell us about Hong Kong English and its place in the global family of English varieties?

“Add oil” – what does it mean?

It represents the metaphor of injecting fuel into a tank, or alternatively, stepping on an accelerator to propel a vehicle forward. But the use of “add oil” as an expression of encouragement is a creation of Cantonese: ga yao, or jiayou in Mandarin. Often accompanied by exclamation marks, it is a versatile phrase Chinese speakers use to express encouragement, incitement or support, somewhere along the lines of “keep it up” or “good luck”. It is believed to have originated as a cheer at the Macau Grand Prix during the 1960s. Continue reading

Languages and Scripts in China–cfp

CFP: “Languages and Scripts in China,” Workshop at Columbia University
“Languages and Scripts in China: New Directions in Communications and Information History.” Workshop at Columbia University on April 19, 2019.

This workshop aims to articulate a new path in studying the history of languages and scripts in China. Although this inquiry has been part of a long historiographical tradition, the past decade has seen an unprecedented growth in revisionist scholarship. New perspectives on the making of Mandarin as a national language, transnational histories of script reforms, and the significance of media technologies as well as large-scale infrastructures have been some of the major themes that animated recent literature on languages and scripts in China. How can we critically reflect on this contemporary interest in the history of linguistic technologies? What does it mean to study languages and scripts in the twenty-first century? What are the possibilities and pitfalls in pondering the multi-lingual and multi-scripted landscape of China?

This workshop will bring together advanced doctoral, postdoctoral, and early career researchers in an effort to rethink Chinese history as part of the nascent scholarship on the global history of communications and information. As the workshop is designed to explore the multiplicity of scripts and languages in China, researchers whose work engages with non-Han scripts and comparative/transnational perspectives are especially encouraged to apply. Fields of inquiry include but are not limited to the following topics: Continue reading

Fan Bingbing violates grammar rules (1)

Excuse me, but this is ridiculous. Of course we already know, that Fan Bingbing’s police handlers would have vetted and approved every sentence, every comma. Or, they wrote the whole thing! This is what typically goes on, when somebody is disappeared. See my writings on this:

Confessions Made in China, http://www.chinoiresie.info/confessions-made-in-china/
The Return of the Show Trial: China’s Televised “Confessions,” http://apjjf.org/2017/13/Fiskesjo.html

So, the high school teachers that supposedly complained about her confessional statement’s grammar, should be ashamed! Continue reading

Fan Bingbing violates grammar rules

Source: SCMP (10/10/18)
China’s Fan Bingbing: violates tax law, now grammar rules
Students given textbook example of how to write an error-free letter of apology to the nation
By Sarah Zheng

Chinese movie star Fan Bingbing, already under fire for tax evasion, is now being used as a textbook example on how not to write an apology letter.

A high school teacher in eastern China’s Zhejiang province took issue, not with the actress’ overdue taxes – for which she was detained and fined nearly 884 million yuan (US$129 million) – but for her violation of the rules of grammar in her apology.

In a statement on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Fan apologised last week to her more than 62 million followers, writing she was “ashamed and guilty about what I have done”. Continue reading

‘High-speed tyrant woman’

Source: What’s On Weibo (9/20/18)
“Tyrant Train Woman” Goes Trending on Weibo and Unleashes Flood of New Memes
The hashtag “High-Speed Tyrant Woman” (#高铁霸座女#) already received a staggering 450 million views on Weibo today.
By Manya Koetse

While the bizarre behavior of a male passenger went viral in late August, this time, it is a female passenger’s rude behavior that’s become trending on Chinese social media. Some netizens think the two ‘high-speed train tyrants’ (高铁霸座) deserve each other, creating memes putting them together.

In late August of this year, one rude man from Shandong who refused to give up the seat he took from another passenger became known as the “High-Speed Train Tyrant” (高铁霸座男 gāotiě bà zuò nán) on Chinese social media.

A video showing the man’s bizarre behavior went viral, and netizens were especially angry because the man pretended he could not get up from the stolen seat and needed a wheelchair – although he did not need one when boarding the train. . . . [read the rest of the article here]

Hot words

Source: BBC Capital (8/10/18)
China’s rebel generation and the rise of ‘hot words’
By Kerry Allen with additional reporting from Stuart Lau

SHANGHAI, CHINA – AUGUST 05: (CHINA OUT) Girls take a selfie in a house where “flowers” cover all the space with the help of a projector at Plaza 66 on August 5, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Language Matters is a new column from BBC Capital exploring how evolving language will influence the way we work and live.

Mandarin Chinese is one of the most complex languages in the world. Opening a Chinese dictionary, you find around 370,000 words. That’s more than double the number of words in the Oxford English dictionary, and almost three times those in French and Russian dictionaries.

But these many words have been joined in recent years by a bunch of upstarts. Reci – literally translated as ‘hot words’: are slang terms that young Chinese are creating and using online to communicate how they really feel about current affairs and trends. Continue reading

Keywords in Chinese Internet Subculture (1)

My name is Xiqing Zheng, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Washington. I am currently an assistant professor at the Institute of Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a participant (and consultant) of Peking University Internet Literature Research Forum.

As one of the fifteen authors of this book (I am the main author of the Danmei section),  《破壁书:网络文化关键词》 (My own translation of the title goes: The Book of the Shattered Shield, or probably The Book that Shatters Shields), I would like to briefly introduce it to the academic community of modern Chinese literature and culture, because the scholars of contemporary Chinese literature and culture are part of our target audience.

The idea of “shattered shield” refers to a phrase in Chinese otaku community, “dimensional shield,” which ultimately comes from the Japanese otaku community. Literally referring to the differences between the three-dimensional world (of the real people and everyday life) and the two-dimensional world (of the characters and the fictional worlds from Japanese media texts of anime, comics [manga], games, light novels, [abbreviated as ACGN in everyday use in China]), “dimensional shield” describes the semiotic break between the mainstream culture, and the fan/otaku subculture. While the “dimensional shield” is something that stops people from understanding each other, this book is written and edited to break the shield, attempting to establish a path of understanding through keywords definitions. Continue reading

Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures

Source: China Daily (7/18/18)
Decoding the language of the young
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Cover of The Book of Wallbreaking: Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new book tries to make sense of what the younger generation is saying, Mei Jia reports.

Peking University associate professor Shao Yanjun, 50, is not the first one to discover that the younger generation, growing up with smart devices and the internet, actually use a different language when they are online, and sometimes, offline too, which is not easy to understand for her and her peers.

Therefore she has become the first to direct and guide her doctoral and master’s students to write a book about keywords in Chinese internet subcultures.

A pioneer and established scholar on internet culture/literature studies, Shao began to give lectures on the campus about web novels and online literature in 2011. However, outside class, she felt at loss.

“Their language differed from what they used in class, and I noticed jargon,” she says.

“And sometimes the phrases seemed to be standard Chinese that you’re familiar with, but referred to different things,” she adds. Continue reading

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yan Liang’s review of Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text (Columbia UP, 2017), translated and edited by Aili Mu, with Mike Smith. The review appears below, but is best viewed online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yanliang/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories:
A Parallel Text

Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith

Reviewed by Yan Liang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text. Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. pp. 528. ISBN: 9780231181532 (paper); ISBN: 9780231181525 (hard cover); ISBN: 9780231543637 (e-book).

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories (2018) is a parallel-text (Chinese-English) collection of Chinese short-short stories translated and edited by Aili Mu in collaboration with poet and essayist Mike Smith. It is a delightful read for anyone curious about contemporary Chinese society. The English translations of the stories are smooth and graceful, despite Mu’s conscious choice—for the pedagogical sake of Chinese language learners—of translating the text more literally than literarily. With the addition of the parallel Chinese text and the thoughtfully designed teaching materials, including introductory essays, glossaries, reading questions, and author biographies, the book makes an easy-to-use and much-needed textbook for teachers and advanced students of Chinese language and culture. Continue reading

Proper nouns must be proper Chinese

Source: Sixth Tone (5/30/18)
Proper Nouns Must Be Proper Chinese, Say Authorities
Ministry mandates that housing developments with names like ‘California Town’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ must find Mandarin monikers.
By Liang Chenyu

More than 75,000 place names around China have been changed because they were too exotic, strange, or hyperbolic, the Ministry of Education announced Monday.

Tian Lixin, head of the ministry’s department for standardizing Chinese language usage, told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, that it is inappropriate to see names like “Venice” and “Rome” in Chinese cities.

On social platform Weibo, some users approved of the sweep. “There are so many beautiful words in [Chinese classics], why do you have to choose strange transliterated words?” But others disagreed: “Why does this bother you enough to police it?” Continue reading

Tibetan language erasure

Source: Sup China (5/22/18)
Tibetan language erasure
By Lucas Niewenhuis

In November 2015, the New York Times published a 10-minute video about Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan businessman, that followed him as he travelled to Beijing to advocate for the preservation of his ethnic language. In Tashi’s telling, the poor standards for Tibetan language instruction in his hometown of Yushu (Gyegu in Tibetan), Qinghai Province, and pushing of Mandarin language instead was tantamount to “a systematic slaughter of our culture.” The video opens with an excerpt of China’s constitution:

All nationalities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own folkways and customs. Continue reading