Buzzwords and Idioms

Media Buzzwords

僭建 jianjian – lit. ‘usurped construction’, refers to Henry Tang’s illegally constructed basement/wine cellar/underground palace. Full version: 僭建地下皇宮 jianjian dixia huanggong – ‘illegally constructed underground palace’.


小恩小惠 xiao en xiao hui – ‘Small favours and benefits’, used during local elections in Hong Kong to describe the small gifts such as mooncakes handed out by the more well-funded (pro-establishment) parties to win votes.

风马牛不相及 feng ma niu bu xiang ji – ‘a horse and a cow in heat do not notice each other’, meaning that two things are completely different/unrelated.

Great language guides already out there…

From China Digital Space comes the amazing Grass Mud Horse Lexicon. Describing itself as “an online glossary of translations of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions”, it features many weird and wonderful terms used to get around the Great Firewall. I won’t explain the term ‘grass mud horse’ here, for fear of lowering the tone, but do check it out on their site.


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