Word of the Week: Era of the Passive Tense

Editor’s Note: The Word of the Week comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

If you are interested in participating in this project by submitting and/or translating terms, please contact the CDT editors at CDT [at] chinadigitaltimes [dot] net.

Getting thrown onto the “made employed” scale, pushing up the “weight” of college graduates employed. Starting in 2009, universities and colleges began using contracts between recruiters and students to inflate the graduate employment rate.

被时代 (bèi shídài): era of the passive tense

A time when euphemistic labels are given to actions that belie the underlying compulsion behind those actions–that is, the present.

In Chinese, the grammatical construction bei-X means “to be Xed,” and implies that that the Xed party has been forced or suffered to X. For example, someone who was invited to drink tea (i.e. was called in by the police for interrogation) could say she “was tea-drinked” (bèi hé chá 被喝茶). Netizens have coined a number of terms using this construction, giving rise to the “era of the passive tense.”