中国法律博客
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China's Porn Crackdown: The Greater Sin
媒体来源: 中国法律博客

Ah, back to one of my favorite topics. I don't want to get all Safire on your ass or anything, but another reason to really hate the anti-porn campaign here in China is that it allows reporters to further mangle the English language, solidifying some very poor lexical choices.

For example, the latest announcement from the Supreme People's Court:

An official from the Supreme People's Court clarified Friday that the crackdown on pornography on mobile phones targets those who "sext" to the public, not to each other.

OK, good to know. But do we really have to use the term "sext" to convey that information? Sure it's a nice short word, and therefore much more efficient than "sexually explicit short message sent by mobile device." I get that, I really do. But consider the lexis here and the collateral grammar damage.

First, we have the unfortunate use of the term "sex" itself. I got over this one a number of years ago, but remember that back in a more simple time, we used to say "sexual relations," as in "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." A polite, almost innocent phrase, "sexual relations" suggests a meaningful relationship, or at the very least, a dinner and a movie was involved before the individuals in question got down to the business at hand. Or mouth. Or groin. Whatever.

Contrast this with "sex," a lifeless word that takes the imagination down dark alleyways where proles hopped up on hormones hump away up against grimy, soot-covered brick walls, desperately trying to get their minds off their drab, Dickensian existence. It's all so vulgar and cheap.

To make matters worse, we have the fictional verb "to text." I don't know about you, but I was taught that "text" was a noun, meaning words, the body of a manuscript, etc. You can't just take a noun and pretend it's suddenly a verb, that violates the laws of time and space. Doing the opposite is permissible — that's a gerund, and the practice is officially sanctioned by the grammar deities.

Taking the vulgar term "sex" and marrying it to the lexical abomination that is the "verb" text results in the Lovecraftian monstrosity "sext," a hideous manifestation of modern English that should be locked away in the lexical equivalent of an eldritch tomb (even better if the tomb is noisome, covered in ichor (or squamous), in a cyclopean graveyard). Makes my skin crawl just to think about it.

To be fair, use of these terms in China-based English publications is understandable. The editors and writers are simply taking the lead from Western sources. And I'm not so rigid as to suggest the imposition of a draconian and never-changing dictionary to be overseen by some sort of English-language Ordnungsdienst.

That might be taking things a bit too far. That being said, there should be some limits on quick adoption of new language that offends the natural order of things.

Oh yeah, and you can stop worrying so much about sexting. The court said you wouldn't get arrested or anything.

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