Word of the Week: Elephant of Truth

Editor’s Note: The CDT Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon is 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. The Word of the Week features Lexicon entries old, new and timely.

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真象 (zhēn xiàng): elephant of truth

“I beg you, elephant of truth (I beg to know the truth)!!”

“Elephant of truth” sounds the same as “truth” or “actual situation” (真相). In the subversive mythology of online Internet creatures, the elephant of truth is the largest animal in the Mahler Desert and the only animal that poses a threat to the river crabs. The elephant of truth does not show itself unless called. It vanished sixty years ago (when the PRC was established) but has reappeared recently, perhaps coaxed back by the thriving population of grass-mud horses and valley doves. Elephants of truth have been known to smash river crabs to bits; however, the river crabs can scale the elephants and, while unable to kill them, claw deep into their eyes, ears and mouths. The one animal that can rescue the elephants of truth from the river crabs are the “reed storks” (苇鹳 wěiguàn), which come to surround and watch (围观 wéiguān). When the elephants of truth are paired with the reed storks (i.e. when people scrutinize the truth) they create an invincible force.

The river crabs naturally despise the elephants of truth and call them “cloth chirping elephants of truth” (布鸣真象 bù míng zhēn xiàng) who don’t understand the actual situation.

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