BEIJING, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The linguistics journal Yaowen Jiaozi released 2023’s top 10 Chinese buzzwords on Monday.
The magazine, published by the Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing Group, has been releasing the annual Chinese buzzwords since 2006, and is one of the pioneers and one of the most influential initiators of annual buzzword selection. The magazine, whose title literally meaning “biting phrases and chewing words,” aims to help readers choose the right words and phrases carefully.
The full list includes buzzwords such as “new productive forces,” “two-way efforts,” “large-scale artificial intelligence [AI] models,” “Cun Chao,” “special forces-style tourism,” “xianyanbao,” “dazi,” “dopamine dressing,” “emotional values,” and “questioned, understood, and became.”
Huang Anjing, editor-in-chief of Yaowen Jiaozi, noted that compared to those of previous years, 2023’s buzzwords shed more light on the outlook of social life among the young generation. For example, “special forces-style tourism” highlights people’s positive life and mental state as culture and tourism consumption continue to recover. This year’s buzzwords feature the language creativity inherent in Putonghua. Social media platforms, especially those for short-video sharing, with their fast and down-to-earth communication characteristics, have become another important realm for the playful reinvention and creativity of languages.
On the list, the buzzwords are divided into three categories. The first category is related to technology, featuring words such as “new productive forces” and “large-scale AI models.” The second focuses on the recovery of the economy and tourism, and includes words such as “special forces-style tourism,” and “Cun Chao” (which translates to “Village Super League”). The third reflects the mentality of the youth and related social changes.
Tech, economy and tourism
In the field of AI, Chinese tech company Baidu launched a Chat GPT-style bot this year, named ERNIE Bot, making it the first among its Chinese counterparts to join a global race in the AI chatbot sector after OpenAI’s Chat GPT garnered widespread attention. According to Baidu, ERNIE, meaning “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration,” is an AI-powered language model with deep semantic understanding and generation capabilities across modalities and languages. This move marked Chinese firm’s foray into the global generative AI field.
When searching for linguistic evidence of the recovery of the Chinese economy and tourism sector, “Cun Chao” and “special forces-style tourism” are great linguistic candidates. A village football tournament named “Cun Chao” went viral nationwide and has also captured attention from overseas media and sports stars. Movie-like plots happened in real life this summer in Rongjiang county, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. While the grass-roots event drew tourists across the country, it is also an epitome of China’s continuous efforts and achievements in targeting wider public engagement in sport, comprehensively promoting rural vitalization.
Meanwhile, amid the strong recovery of China’s domestic tourism market, college students largely accounted for the sector’s resurgence. They humorously refer to their travel style as “special forces-style tourism,” reflecting the current trend among college students or young people in general to explore as many as attractions and indulge in diverse cuisines while minimizing both time and expense.
While this emerging trend can be viewed as a positive indicator for the complete recovery and continued flourishing of China’s domestic tourism market, it underscores the diversified preferences found in domestic tourism and a novel attraction model that’s appealing to young tourists.
In the third category, words like “xianyanbao,” which originally refers to people who are simply goofing around and trying to get others’ attention, is now associated more with a welcomed personality. It now refers to people who are lively, outgoing, and charge up crowds with a positive and energetic “vibe.” The younger Chinese generation uses this otherwise negative phrase in a self-deprecating and humorous way, as a show of confidence and individual authenticity, as well as a sign of society’s increasing embrace of personalized, diversified individual expression.
Their confidence in standing out can also be found in the buzzword “dopamine dressing.” While the meaning of dopamine, the chemical substance the levels and balance of which are crucial for health and happiness, is understood, “dopamine dressing” connotes a departure from the simple low-key style. The “dopamine dressing” style is all about highly saturated colors and bright combinations to create a pleasant experience.
As for the word “dazi,” which was originated from a dialect term for “partner,” its usage has since expanded to refer generally to companions engaged in any activity together. The popular use of “dazi” now reflects a new type of social relationship model based on some commonality or shared interest, allowing people to spend a satisfactory, comfortable time together in a non-intrusive manner. The interaction between “dazi” is controlled within the scope of meeting specific needs. This precise companionship is seen as a stress-free social interaction, with low effort maintenance, and greater autonomy and freedom.
“The growing popularity of these words in China’s lexicon reveals that the country’s younger generation is trying to strike a balance,” Zhang Yiwu, a Chinese language and literature professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.
“Like other young people around the world, China’s youths face issues such as work-related stress, responsibility to take care of their parents, or romantic challenges.”
At the same time, as these buzzwords show, the young generation is optimistically finding a way out of these challenges. From travel special-forces style, which is not only about saving time and money, but more about celebrating life and enjoying the moment, to expanding their social circle by finding “dazi” for various activities, and dressing “dopamine style” to make themselves feel better.
“They are satisfied overall with the country’s social economic development. They move forward with humor and hope. These buzzwords manifest the resilience, confidence, and optimism of China’s younger generation,” said Zhang.
SOURCE Global Times