The Slang Chinese Bloggers Use to Subvert Censorship

The Atlantic Wire excerpts some entries from CDT’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon in writing about how Chinese Internet users create slang to get around government censorship:

They call it the Grass-Mud Horse lexicon, and, lucky for us language lovers, the China Digital Times just started a recurring word of the week feature to go along with its catalog of the slang China’s bloggers use to subvert government censorship. The first post, which went up last Wednesday, explains the project’s namesake, Grass-Mud Horse. “Grass-mud horse, which sounds nearly the same in Chinese as ‘f*** your mother’ (cào nǐ mā), was created as a way to get around and poke fun at government censorship of vulgar content,” writes Fiona Smith. The term is perfect for a lot of reasons: It sounds like a swear, has its own YouTube culture and references the Communist party, which is often referred to as “mother.” All of that has led to its evolution as not only a term that means “someone who is web-savvy and critical of government attempts at censorship,” in the words of Smith, but also the representation of an entire language.

See also a recent post from the New York Times’ Rendezvous blog which also discusses the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon.