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Monday, December 29, 2014

China’s Mandarins Shanghai The Pun

I’m appalled. China has banned puns. This is a crying shang. It has me seeing red. And almost as offensive is that, in reporting this news, many writers (clearly those not practiced at the fine art) have dubbed punning “the lowest form of humor.” 
Foo-ey, I say.
The Forbidden City
Those critics are simply noodles. Nonetheless, today I am opting to focus my ire on the Chinese mandarins who made the pun a forbidden ditty. Deng it, how could 1.357 billion people not like puns? Well, it turns out they do, and that has created a sticky pun problem.
Puns are actually considered an important feature of Chinese culture. Puns are ubiquitous in Chinese, because the language is not wonton for homophones. It’s all in the way the Chinese write words from characters. Substituting one character for another can alter the meaning of a phrase while hardly changing the sound.

IMO, China's Next Generation
is being pun-ished by this new ruling
At any rate, China’s State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued an order in November saying wordplay has no place in broadcasting and advertising.  While spearing a chopstick through the heart of punditry, the order conceded that “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.” Nonetheless, the statement says improper exploitation of words may lead to cultural and linguistic chaos. and could harm the nation’s young people. Certainly, the government doesn't want to have a han in that happening.

Here’s my slant. Clearly, the Chinese government is not panda’ing to its pun-crazed public here. In fact, yuan-a bet that this great wall has been erected as a form of censorship? Indeed, puns and wordplay are just one mao way the Chinese work around censorship in the Internet age. The Chinese use puns and wordplay to duck censorship software, designed to catch and embargo obscene or politically sensitive words. So, an entirely new lexicon of puns has been developed for online discussion of sensitive topics. As a result, the amount of online punning is one way to gauge the tempura-ture of public opinion.
I am just glad I do not have to wok a mile in the shoes of a Chinese writer. For if I were not able to employ the venerable pun, I might have to be peking into another line of work.

But No Puns Allowed

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