|China Demands No More Pun for Journalists
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Wordsmithers. Logophiles. Craftsmen of the Double Entendre. This one is for you...or even to be PC, this one is for ewe. (See, a ewe is a female lamb. I’m not calling anyone a lamb, more talking about females, but since this is about...well, you get it.)
Back to the lede: China hates your guts.
The Chinese government has given local media an edict: there’s nothing punny about puns. So, all such wordplay has been banned because apparently it breaches the law on “standard spoken and written Chinese.” Regardless, if you're issuing media in Mandarin or Cantonese (because no one bothered making the distinction), puns make “promoting cultural heritage harder” and “may mislead the public" — especially children.
I mean, it’s not like headlines in mainland China are pithy, like “People with constipation are full of crap” or “Folks having sex on elevators creating problems on many levels.” No, these are serious journalists, but the government wants to put those folks on notice.
The order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says:
“Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms…
Now, here’s the rub:
“Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases, and idioms — and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meaning…
“Idioms are one of the great features of the Chinese language and contain profound cultural heritage and historical resources and great aesthetic, ideological, and moral values.”
Wordplay is complimented and insulted in the same edict. What the what?!
So you’ve been warned, Chinese journalists. Stick to the facts. Don’t editorialize. And while you are trying to realize how many stories you have to deal with in a common day, just remember what I saw (ironically) in a fortune cookie once:
It’s not the man didn’t know how to juggle; he just didn’t have the balls to do it.
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood