China bans English abbreviations on television

Beijing : Television viewers in China may no longer be able to hear popular English abbreviations like “GDP” and “WTO” as the government has passed a regulation banning their use.

China Central Television (CCTV) and Beijing Television (BTV) have confirmed that they had received a notice from a government department, asking them to avoid using certain English abbreviations in Chinese programmes, China Daily reported Wednesday.

Broadcasters and journalists have been asked to provide Chinese explanations for unavoidable English abbreviations in their programmes, the report said.

The channels, however, did not reveal exactly how many abbreviations are listed in the notice.

A number of provincial television stations have also received the notice, Hangzhou-based Today Morning Express reported.

The notice not only limits the use of English abbreviations in sports news like “NBA” for National Basketball Association, but also in economic and political news.

Abbreviations such as “GDP” (gross domestic product), “WTO” (World Trade Organisation) and “CPI” (consumer price index) will be substituted with their Chinese pronunciations, it said.

The move comes after national legislators and political advisors called for preventive measures to preserve the purity of languages in the country.

“If we don’t pay attention and don’t take measures to stop mixing Chinese with English, the Chinese language won’t remain pure in a couple of years,” said Huang Youyi, secretary general of the Translators’ Association of China.

“In the long run, Chinese will lose its role as an independent linguistic system for passing on information and expressing human feelings,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, this restricted use of English abbreviations has sparked off a debate among scholars.

“It makes no sense to introduce a regulation to prevent the use of English in the Chinese language in the face of globalisation,” Liu Yaoying, a professor at the Communication University of China, said. “It is cultural conservatism.”

“If Western countries can accept some ‘Chinglish’ words, why can’t the Chinese language be mixed with English?” he asked.

Governments of some Western countries have also attempted to preserve the purity of their languages.

France has outlawed advertising in English and mandates a 40 percent quota of French songs on the radio, according to a report by the Christian Science Monitor.

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