We don't need language that would fry bacon

By Li Yang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, April 27, 2016
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Screen shot of a video posted by Internet celebrity Papi Jiang's Weibo account. [Photo/Weibo.com]

Jiang Yilei, a popular Shanghai-based online talk-show artist better known as Papi Jiang, might not have imagined she would falter on the language front. Just after receiving more than 100 million yuan ($15.38 million) in angel investment late last month, Jiang was ordered by the media administrative department to discontinue her program for frequently using vulgar language.

The authority's order was justified, if not overdue, because Jiang has millions of fans who could be easily influenced by her lifestyle and language. This is evident in the reactions of Jiang and her fans. While she has apologized for the use of vulgar language, many of her fans don't think her coarse expressions are a problem.

China has given birth to many operas, dramas, crosstalk performances, and the artists who have infused life into them. But these artists were extremely careful with the language and type of expressions they used even in the days when a majority of the people in the country were illiterates.

It is thus an irony that most of the popular programs on the internet today rely on coarse language to grab audience's attention.

Jiang uses English words, which are coarse and vulgar, in her programs. She may feel her expressions sound cool and add a unique touch to her shows. She is wrong.

She could have developed a smart, exquisite language style given the fact that she has a postgraduate degree from China's top drama academy. But since that involves a lot of hard work and practice, she chose the easy way to gain popularity.

Jiang's case should be a lesson for people spreading vulgarity on the internet. And it should prompt them to abide by certain rules and fulfill their due social responsibility.

The country has laws on the use of Chinese language and characters. All Chinese media and citizens have the legal responsibility and obligation to use regular Chinese characters and expressions. They have to realize that the Chinese language faces a great challenge to maintain its purity in these times of globalization and the internet.

The inflow of foreign words, the rise of the internet and the languages and expressions associated with it, and the information system have exposed the Chinese language to outward threats.

Perhaps it is time the education, language, publication and media authorities made joint efforts to raise people's awareness to defend the purity of the Chinese language.

That the media administrative department had to step in to take action against Jiang shows people cannot differentiate between healthy and harmful programs. It is a shame that investors and online media circles have been blinded by profits and have neglected their social obligations.

Some people feel that since Jiang has attracted investment from some investors, she has to be socially correct. In fact, one of Jiang's angel investors has passed a sarcastic remark on the suspension of her program. Why? Because the investor still does not realize Jiang's errors.

Some people argue that all languages have coarse and indecent terms, and all languages have self-purifying filters. But that cannot justify the lowering of standards and choice of improper expressions by the media. The media and performing artists have to be careful and prudent about the language they use because their audiences and viewers also include juveniles whose faculties are not fully developed and, hence, they can be swayed by wrong ideas and expressions.

Jiang has said she would try her best to provide her audience with better programs. If so, it will be a true test of her talents and her fans.


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