A host of new phrases have been included but an omission has drawn attention

A newly-published edition of one of China’s most authoritative dictionaries has already been criticised by rights campaigners.

They complain that it has excluded a definition widely used by homosexuals in China for “gay”.

The word is “tongzhi”, whose primary meaning is “comrade”, a form of address beloved of Communists for decades.

One of the compilers said they did not want to draw attention to its more colloquial meaning.

The newly-revised sixth edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary has 69,000 entries, 13,000 Chinese characters and more than 3,000 new phrases.

They include internet slang such as “geili” – meaning awesome – and such non-Chinese expressions as PM2.5, which refers to a pollution indicator for particulate matter.

But “tongzhi” – in colloquial Chinese the equivalent of “gay” as in “homosexual” – is not among them.

Linguist Jiang Lansheng, one of the compilers of the dictionary, said in a Chinese television interview: “We knew about the usage but we can’t include it.”

“You can use the word whichever way you like, but we won’t put it into a standard dictionary because we don’t want to promote these things. We don’t want to draw attention to these things.”

‘Impartial standpoint’

Hong Kong and Taiwan were the first places where “tongzhi” was used to refer to homosexuals

For Ding Xueliang, a social sciences professor from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, this attitude is not surprising.

“The use of ‘tongzhi’ to describe homosexuality started in Hong Kong and Taiwan to make fun of the mainland’s communist terminology because Chinese leaders address each other using ‘tongzhi’ meaning ‘comrade’ – for instance, ‘Hu Jintao tongzhi’ or ‘Wen Jiabao tongzhi’,” he told BBC Chinese.

“So it’s quite normal that the Chinese government doesn’t want to take this new meaning into the dictionary.”

Source: BBC News Read more


You can’t change human nature by putting your head in the sand and hoping it will go away. Such is the flawed thinking of those who would rule, “If we ignore it, it will go away…”