The Chinese word of the year shortlist - SupChina

The Chinese word of the year shortlist

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On December 9, a group led by the People’s Daily including a panel of “experts” from the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Center, the Commercial Press, and Tencent’s QQ.com published a shortlist of contenders for the country’s 2017 “Character of the Year and Word of the Year.”

  • The nominating process officially began on November 20, with millions of Chinese internet users submitting their picks.
  • The contenders that made the final list were selected and announced by the judging panel.
  • A recently popular word — “low-end population” — was perhaps in the news too recently to make the list. Most of the words on the list are highly positive, and several government buzzwords are included.

Here is the shortlist (in Chinese).

Nominees for the 2017 Chinese character (domestic):

  • 享 xiǎng — “share.” “The popularity of on-demand bikes and the boom of the sharing economy brought visible benefits to people and explained the meaning of common prosperity.”
  • 云 yún — “cloud.” “Cloud storage and cloud computing largely improved human beings’ intelligence. The World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, indicated the country’s focus on making itself an internet superpower and an innovation-oriented nation.”
  • 赞 zàn — “praise.” “Zan represents a sort of life attitude, that is, to look at the happy and harmonious side of everything.”
  • 怼 duì — “lash out.” “The character indicates a new lifestyle adopted by the country’s young generation, who are more daring to express their opinions and voice their resentment.”
  • 强 qiáng — “strong.” “On a recent cover of TIME magazine, there are four Chinese characters, 中国赢了 (zhōngguóyíngle, ‘China won’).”

Nominees for the 2017 Chinese word (domestic):

  • 新时代 xīnshídài — “new era.” “In this new era, many big deals that we failed to accomplish were completed, many difficult problems were solved, and everyone felt a brand-new social atmosphere.”
  • 初心 chūxīn — “original aspiration.” “‘Never forget why you started, and your mission can be accomplished.’ That is the beginning mindset of every member of the Communist Party.”
  • 新四大发明 xīnsìdàfāmíng — “four new great inventions.” “The four net great inventions of China are high-speed railways, Alipay, on-demand bikes, and online shopping. When asked why many futurists think China will be the global center of innovation, Chinese internet users should proudly say, ‘my country is so amazing!’”
  • 人工智能 réngōngzhìnéng — “artificial intelligence.” “This year, artificial intelligence was for the first time written into the government’s reports.”
  • 幼儿园 yòuéryuán — “kindergarten.” “How to make sure the country’s children grow up healthy and sound is what every Chinese person should be concerned about.”

Nominees for the 2017 Chinese character (international):

  • 退 tuì — “step back.” “As the core designer of the post-war order, the U.S. withdrew from several international organizations under the Trump administration. Many people ask what we should do if the administrator leaves the group. Maybe, the world should adjust itself to a new world order without the U.S. taking the lead in many areas.”
  • 核 hé — “nuclear.” “China firmly supports the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
  • 智 zhì — “intelligence.” “As pointed out by the Chinese government during the 19th Party Congress, the aim of further developing the integration of the internet, big data, artificial intelligence, and real economy is to make lives better.”
  • 袭 xí — “attack.” “Contrary to people’s wishes, a lot terrorist attacks happened in 2017. In the U.S., gun violence regularly took place.”
  • 独 dú — “independence.” “Independence referendums that don’t abide by international laws, lack valid reasons, or disrupt peace and stability in an area won’t be recognized as legal in the international society.”

Nominees for the 2017 Chinese word (international):

  • 人类命运共同体 rénlèimìngyùngòngtóngtǐ — “a community of shared future for mankind.” “From promoting the concept and suggesting how to achieve it, the Chinese Communist Party always adheres to its people-oriented doctrine.”
  • 习特会 xítèhuì — “Xi-Trump meetings.” “The regular interactions between the two leaders of China and the U.S. sent a positive signal to the rest of the world.”
  • 朝核危机 cháohéwēijī — “North Korea nuclear crisis.” “The only viable methods to solve the problem are China’s ‘two-track approach’ formula and ‘double suspension’ proposal, as well as the ‘step-by-step’ idea suggested by China and Russia.
  • 阿尔法狗 āěrfǎgǒu — “AlphaGo.” “In the face of AlphaGo, it’s normal for us to have some fears while marvelling at how powerful artificial intelligence is.”
  • 引力波 yǐnlìbō— “gravitational waves.” “The discovery of gravitational waves showcases that human beings further understand the universe and black holes.”

Do you feel strongly about any of the words or characters above? Cast your vote through this link (in Chinese), and the winners are set to be revealed on December 21.


Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.