Sound semantic suggestion

Updated: 2014-05-07 09:49

(China Daily)

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A recent newspaper commentary that the "Chinese language should be kept clean and pure by eradicating English words" has created a controversy. On one hand, English words are bound to enter the Chinese language in these times of globalization. On the other, proper and correct use of the Chinese language is indeed necessary to safeguard Chinese culture, says an article in Zhejiang Daily. Excerpts:

As China gets more deeply involved in economic globalization, it is understandable that English words will enter the Chinese language. The problem, however, is the excessive use of English words in the Chinese context without even the minimum effort to translate them. This is precisely what has been worrying propurity academics.

One cannot wish away their worries as cynicism, because somehow we might have lost the ability of creatively Sinicize foreign words. There are plenty of examples of English words being Sinicized in the past, such as sofa (sha fa) and hardware (ying jian). But nowadays, we tend to use foreign words without even attempting to translate them - for instance, CEO and iPhone.

People who view language purity with sarcasm may be unaware of cultural erosion. It is highly likely that the proper use of the Chinese language will diminish if we absorb Western words without translating them into Chinese and if Chinese people continue to be influenced by Western culture.

To protect and promote the Chinese language, Chinese people should stick to its proper and standard use, and the Chinese government should make more efforts to increase its soft power in cultural communications with the rest of the world.

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