Word of the Week: Expensive Country

The  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.

贵国 (guì guó): expensive country

A sarcastic reference to China. This term was popularized because of discontent over high prices; gui guo is a country in which basic needs like housing, fuel, power, and healthcare are all too costly.

Gui is also the honorific form of “your”; gui guo, literally “your honorable country,” is often used in diplomatic speech. Using gui guo in reference to China separates the speaker from his country, in opposition to 我国 wǒ guó, “our country.” Xiao Qiang and Perry Link explain that in this turn of phrase, netizens imply that “the state that belongs to you rulers, not to me.”

February 20, 2013 12:00 PM
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