Story Archive

River Crabbed

Puns are “part and parcel of Chinese heritage,” says David Moser of Beijing Capital Normal University. For example, newlyweds often receive dates (zao) and peanuts (huasheng), meaning “may you soon give birth to a son” (zaosheng guizi). But the use of puns in advertising slogans has been condemned by China’s State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. In an order, the agency warns of “cultural and linguistic chaos” if idioms that “contain profound cultural heritage and historical resources and great aesthetic, ideological and moral values” aren’t respected. Moser, however, speculates that the agency’s real target is “the cute language people use to crack jokes about the leadership or policies.” For example, online references to the “river crab” (hexie) may actually refer to “harmony” (similarly pronounced) and thereby to censorship. (AC/London Guardian, CBC) ...Resisting Internet censorship can be a matter of puns and zeroes.
Original Publication Date: 14 December 2014
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

Is There a Problem on This Page? Let Me Know using the Help button lower right, and thanks.

I believe humanity is held back by the lack of thinking. I provoke thought with examples of what happens when we don’t think, and when we do. This is True is my primary method: stories like this come out every week by email, and basic subscriptions are free. Click here for a subscribe form.

Search for: