Word of the Week: Monkey-snake
Sounds the same as “mouthpiece” (喉舌 hóushé). Within the pantheon of mythical creatures of the Chinese Internet, the monkey-snake represents the propaganda apparatus of the Chinese government. Human rights activist Wen Yunchao described the creature on his (now defunct) blog:
Monkey-snake: Mammal, developed brain, human-like face. Has the head of a monkey and the body of a snake. Rear end also resembles a face. Skilled at imitating human language, but usually tells lies. First appeared approximately 100 years ago in Russia. While once common in much of Eastern Europe, Northeast Asia, and Africa, it is now only found in Northeast Asia and South America. While there are many variations in the species, those found in China and North Korea are considered to be the purebred. Because it is somewhat rare, Chinese scholar Ling Cangzhou has proposed that April First of every year be designated “Monkey-Snake Day” to promote recognition and protection of the species.
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.