Chinese ban on internet slang in the classroom

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The Independent Online

The language police in Shanghai have unveiled a new public enemy number one: slang. From "MM" to "PK" to "konglong", modern ad hoc colloquialisms will be banned from official documents, newspapers and the classroom.

As internet chat and instant messaging increasingly become a part of life for China's computer-literate youth, the use of internet slang has grown and adoption of the terms has permeated all areas of Chinese life.

"On the Web, internet slang is convenient and satisfying, but the mainstream media have a responsibility to guide proper and legal language usage," the Shanghai Morning Post quoted Xia Xiurang, the chair of the culture committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, as saying.

The ever-expanding vocabulary of abbreviated, invented, and adapted terms, such as MM meaning girl and konglong for an unattractive woman and PK for an opponent has rapidly entered the public frame of reference.

A quick glance at a headline from yesterday's China Business News referring to the rivalry between the new heads of Microsoft and Google's China operations ("Zhang Yaqin goes to Beijing to 'PK' Lee Kai-fu") shows how ingrained the application of these words has become.

Ms Xia said: "Our nation's language needs to develop, but it also needs to be regulated." Although she said there is no reason these words could not be used in other settings, she made it clear the use of the words in an official capacity will not be tolerated. She made no reference to how the ban, which is being drafted, would be enforced.

With a population of internet users reaching 103 million in June, China is becoming concerned by the number of young people spending hours of their days on the Web. A limit on the amount of time a minor can spend on it per day was recently introduced.