Word of the Week: Eye-field
If two small strokes are added to the top of each of these characters, they become 自由 (zìyóu), “freedom.” The term was originated by players of the immensely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW). In the summer of 2010, gamers were dismayed to learn that many words were blocked in the latest version of WoW, including some that were part of their characters’ names. This caused difficulty logging in, annoying many who had spent considerable time developing their characters. “Freedom” was among the newly-blocked words, so “eye-field” was used as both a substitute and a veiled jab at the government.
Netizens sometimes write about the eye-field clan king (目田氏王), who, with one small change made to each character in his name, becomes “freedom and democracy” (自由民主). The eye-field clan king is sometimes used to signify freedom and democracy, other times to represent its antithesis.
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.