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Media buzzwords mirror spirit of the times

ZHAO LU | 2018-01-04
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

The top 10 buzzwords of Chinese media for 2017 include: “19th CPC National Congress,” “new era,” “sharing,” “Xiongan New Area,” “BRICS countries,” “artificial intelligence,” “community of shared future for mankind,” “Tianzhou-1,” “roll up our sleeves to work harder,” and “stay true to the mission.” 


Commenting on the Top 10 Buzzwords of Chinese Media unveiled by Beijing Language and Culture University on Dec. 5, 2017, scholars said that these popular media phrases reflect the essence of the times and the focus of public attention over the past year.

The top 10 buzzwords include: “19th CPC National Congress,” “new era,” “sharing,” “Xiongan New Area,” “BRICS countries,” “artificial intelligence,” “community of shared future for mankind,” “Tianzhou-1,” “roll up our sleeves to work harder,” and “stay true to the mission.” They are based on the collective output of 15 newspapers, including People’s Daily, Guangming Daily and Beijing Daily.

Many of the catchphrases are related to major decisions of the CPC Central Committee, said Liu Chang, a professor from the School of Literature at Nankai University.

The phrases mirror the down-to-earth attitude and vision of Chinese media, as well as their high attention to social development, economic situation and people’s life, Liu said. The press is the weathervane of the times, and the buzzwords embody the guiding role of the media, Liu added.

Min Chunfang, a professor from the School of Chinese Language and Literature at Lanzhou University, said the catchphrases reveal that national politics and policy are of great concern to the people, and that China is willing to dialogue with the world.

The frequent mentions of “artificial intelligence” demonstrate that the Party and the nation are prioritizing the development of science and technology, hinting at the important role science and technology will play in the future, Min said. The advancement of science and technology is one of the reasons why China has captured world attention.

Language is not only a way to assess the trends of the times but also a mirror reflecting economic and social development, expressing public sentiments amid social development, said Chen Manhua, a professor from the School of Liberal Arts at Renmin University of China, adding the buzzwords embody the new meaning given by the new era.

While buzzwords have emerged in the media, the internet is a place where many phrases catch on. Liu said that major media outlets are spokesmen of mainstream ideology. They are concerned with realities of China.

Media buzzwords have salient group features while trendy phrases on the internet have distinctive individual characteristics, Liu said.

Chen noted that mainstream media buzzwords influence internet catchphrases, depending on political elements in life. They overlap and interact to some degree but are not identical, Chen added.

Min echoed Chen’s view, saying that mainstream media buzzwords mostly reflect important national decisions, orientations and guiding principles, carrying the purposes of highlighting the theme of the times, conveying positive energy and inspiring the people.

Such phrases as “roll up our sleeves to work harder” are down-to-earth, suggesting the close relationship between state leaders and the people, Min said.

On the other side, online catchphrases largely reflect hot social issues. With strong folk characteristics, they spread quickly and extensively, Min said. However, some phrases are unhealthy and mislead the public, so it is important to discard the dross and select the essence of hot internet words, to reject and criticize unhealthy phrases, particularly those with a negative influence on teenagers, while absorbing those vivid and closely related to people’s life, Min added.