A World Wide Web of Words
Nothing transforms things so much as the ting. A ting with legs
Furthers removal of stagnating stuff.
"The Caldron" (Ting),
Since 1992 many books on China's new idioms, on unofficial and street
language, have appeared, attesting to the disappearance of a uniform
all-China discourse. Most of these "new" expressions are anything but
new: some are revivals of pre-1949 Chinese; some are takes on socialist
jargon; and some are pirated (mainly via film and television) from Hong
Kong and Taiwan and from English and international signs. These novel
ways of using Mandarin Chinese indicate the vibrancy of contemporary
mass culture, but especially the diversification of Chinese culture as it
"moves toward the world."
The fast-forward motion of post-Mao era slogans has made for a fluid
semantics: 'zouxiang shijie'
toward the world), 'gaige kai-
to reform), 'dakai guomen'
the country's door),
(to link up
internationally). Words are used in idiosyn-
cratic ways, they are manipulated in all directions; some surface, only
to quickly disappear, others resurface to be resemanticized. Words are
on the move, too (as if there was no looking back).