River crab (Internet slang)

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River crab (Chinese: ; pinyin: xiè) and Harmonious/Harmonize/Harmonization (Chinese: ; pinyin: xié) are Internet slang terms created by Chinese netizens in reference to Internet censorship or the other censorship of China. In Chinese Mandarin, the word "River crab" (河蟹), which originally means Chinese mitten crab, sounds similar to "Harmonious/Harmonize/Harmonization" (Chinese: 和谐) in the word "Harmonious society" (和谐社会), Chinese leader Hu Jintao's signature ideology.[1]

Terms[edit]

Since the Chinese Communist Party announced the goal of constructing a "Harmonious Society" in 2004, usually cited by the government of China as the reason for censorship, Chinese netizens began to use the word "Harmonious/Harmonize/Harmonization" (和谐) as a euphemism for censorship when the word for censorship itself was censored. And when the word "Harmonious" began to be censored, Chinese netizens began to use the word for "River crab".

Sometimes Aquatic product (Chinese: ) is used in place of "River crab". They are also used as verbs, for example, instead of saying something has been censored, one might say "it has been harmonized" (Chinese: 被和谐了) or "it has been river-crabbed" (Chinese: 被河蟹了). In some BBSs, "Harmonious" is a censored word, so netizens use "River crab" instead.

In Taiwan, more and more people know about the meaning of "River crab" as Internet slang. Some people dislike the government of Mainland China, and may refer to it as Drinking blood (Chinese: ; pinyin: hēxiě or hēxuè[2]), a near homophone of "Harmonious".[3]

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Pinyin English Translation Passive voice[Note 1] Note
Origin héxié shèhuì Harmonious society N/A
Internet slang héxié Harmonious/Harmonize/Harmonization 被和谐 (be harmonized) Used as a euphemism alluding to the censorship of China
Internet slang héxiè River crab 被河蟹 (be river-crabbed) Homophone of "和谐" (héxié, Harmonious)
Internet slang hēxiě or hēxuè[2] Drinking blood N/A Homophone of "和谐" (héxié, Harmonious); Used in Taiwan but rarely in Mainland China
Internet slang shuǐchǎn Aquatic product 被水产 (be aquatic-produced) Allusion and a replacement of "河蟹" (River crab)
External images
River crab society, three wearing watches (河蟹社会,三个戴表)

A well-known picture usually named River crab society, three wearing watches (河蟹社会,三个戴表) illustrates the slang "River crab". In the picture, the three wristwatches refer to the Three Represents, where the Mandarin expressions used for "represent" (Chinese: 代表; pinyin: dàibiǎo) and "Wearing watch(es)" (simplified Chinese: 戴表; traditional Chinese: 戴錶; pinyin: dài biǎo) are homophones. The satirized homophone of the three watches might be created by Chinese writer Wang Xiaofeng (王小峰), whose online nickname is "Wearing three watches" (戴三个表). An offensive term "Foolish prostitute" (Chinese: 呆婊; pinyin: dāi biǎo) is also used by anti-Communist Chinese people.

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Pinyin English Translation Note
Origin sān gè dàibiǎo Three Represents
Internet slang dài biǎo Wearing watch(es) Homophone of "代表" (dàibiǎo, Represents)
Internet slang dāi biǎo Foolish prostitute Homophone of "代表" (dàibiǎo, Represents); Very offensive

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mandarin Chinese-speakers add a "被" (bèi) before a verb to construct a passive voice. See: Voice (grammar)#Passive in topic-prominent languages.

References[edit]