Word of the Week: Relevant Department
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.
Government jargon and a source of frustration to many Chinese people. Sometimes the “relevant department” is clear from context, but more often it remains ambiguous. A government spokesperson may assure people that “the relevant department” is taking care of a particular crisis without elaborating which particular department that may be. Or a request for information may be turned down and the person seeking the information directed to ask the “relevant department” (without identifying which department that is).
Chinese Uncyclopedia elaborates:
The Relevant Department is China’s most powerful department. Tasks that other departments cannot do are handed over to this department. It is also the department most frequently reported on in the news media. The Relevant Department is the world’s most mysterious department.