China Has Banned Puns in an Attempt to Stifle Government Criticism

In a move described as an effort to prevent "cultural and linguistic chaos," China's State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has banned puns and other forms of "misleading" wordplay. Critics of this decision say the government is just trying to crack down on jokes about poor leadership.

In a move described as an effort to prevent "cultural and linguistic chaos," China's State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has banned puns and other forms of "misleading" wordplay. Tania Branigan of The Guardian has the scoop:


"From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them. It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children."

If you have a base knowledge of Mandarin and Chinese culture, you're familiar with how many homophones the language has. Wordplay is as Chinese as the Great Wall and Chairman Mao. But the government has apparently taken a stance in favor of promoting an untarnished form of the language, apparently for reasons relating to cultural protection.

Branigan interviewed one expert who believes there's more to this crackdown than totalitarian grammar. One of the most popular uses of puns in Chinese is to make jokes. It appears the Chinese government is angry at how often it has been the target of these punny jests. Another theory is that internet users have been utilizing puns in order to get past government censors. A prohibition on wordplay could cut into their cleverness.

And finally, since you knew it was coming: "A Chinese ban on puns? How disorienting."

For more, read on at The Guardian

Photo credit: testing / Shutterstock

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

The mystery of Jesus’ brother gets even weirder

The controversy over whether Jesus had any siblings is reignited after an amazing new discovery of an ancient text.

Jesus and James. Unknown painter. Possibly 14th century.
Politics & Current Affairs
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less