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Is internet lingo making us vulgar?

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-01 07:56

Internet lingo, a linguistic phenomenon that originated with young web users, has become an increasingly interesting part of online culture.

With the help of social media, online expressions such as "prehistoric power" (honghuang zhili), "the ship of friendship" (youyi de xiaochuan), "veteran netizen" (laosiji) and "blue thin mushroom" (lanshou xianggu, meaning "upset and wanna cry") are frequently used among young Chinese in their daily conversations.

These phrases are also included in the annual cyber words lists released by various organizations.

While many young people welcome these changes with open arms, people who consider it their duty to protect the purity of language are alarmed.

Zeng Jieling, a member of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference Human Committee, recently spoke up about the internet lingo.

Zeng proposed the idea of regulating internet lingo, particularly vulgar terms that have become popular on the internet, such as gou dai, the homophonic expression of the English phrase "go die" from Chinese singer Huang Zitao's rap lyrics.

These internet terms, according to Zeng, pose a threat to the Chinese language and core socialist values because of their vulgarity.

However, defenders of internet lingo say trying to keep the Chinese language from being invaded by internet language is wrong, because languages evolve with the times and it's natural for them to absorb new elements. They point to imported elements in languages, as well as to elements particular to certain periods in history, as proof that internet lingo is just one of countless influences that languages borrow over time.

So, is internet lingo threatening the purity of our language?


Internet lingo is a bad influence on proper language.

1. Vulgar and indecent internet lingo can corrupt youngsters' minds quickly because they spend so much time online and are easily influenced by content popular on the internet. Young people need to be told that such language is wrong and unacceptable in real life.

2. Internet lingo also includes a lot of over-simplifications, because people communicating online don't have time to bring out the full descriptive depths of the real language. Young people's language skills will be damaged if they rely too heavily on internet lingo.

3. People believe improper things people say online are now socially acceptable, thanks to the spread of internet lingo in the mass media and daily conversation.


Internet lingo is just an offshoot of modern language.

1. Any language has its own obscenities. Just because internet lingo contains vulgarities, we should not seek to exclude it from daily use. As long as we make it clear what is acceptable and what's not, internet lingo can be a refreshing addition to our language.

2. There is no real "pure" language because all languages constantly absorb new and foreign elements, including whatever is in popular use at the time. Any language that refuses to adapt to the changing times will become irrelevant and die.

3. Our language cannot describe many new phenomena and concepts, especially those particular to the internet, without using internet lingo.

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