The subversive language of carrots and tomatoes in China

I love how language evolves and that slang usually comes from rebellion.  Oppression breeds creativity.  In China, internet users circumvent censors by replacing the names of prominent subjects with more benign terms.

Here’s a breakdown for example:

Carrot: 胡萝卜(hu luo bo), a vegetable = 胡锦涛 (hu jin tao), President of China

Teletubby: 天线宝宝 (tian xian bao bao), popular cartoon character = 温家宝 (wen jia bao), Prime Minister of China

Subor study machine: 小霸王学习机 (xiao ba wang xue xi ji), famous brand of children electronics = 习近平 (xi jin ping), one of China’s 9-member Politburo and who has been speculated as China’s next President

Wood son Li: 木子李 (mu zi li) = 李克强 (li ke qiang), one of China’s 9-member Politburo and who has been rumored to be China’s next Prime Minister

Master Kong: 康师傅 (kang shi fu), famous instant noodle brand = 周永康 (zhou yong kang), one of China’s 9-member Politburo and who has been rumored to be a supporter of Bo Xilai

Tomato: 西红柿 (xi hong shi), a vegetable = 薄熙来 (bo xi lai), fallen political star that has been the center of recent political dramas in China

(via OffbeatChina)

Wonder what the codeword will be for the !tal!an sports car that had an accident on Monday.  Fellali -> Fellini?  Chinese users should start using more brand names to involve foreign corporations in this language arms race.

(Wonder when they’ll start blocking Tumblr and turn it into the 5th ”T” you can’t speak of. You know your social network has made it when it’s blocked by governments.)

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