New Chinese Dictionary Leaves Out Colloquial Term for ‘Gay’

Members of the committee that revised and updated the reference book said they did not want to encourage that use of the word.

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In China, the omission of the colloquial term for homosexuality in the latest edition of an authoritative dictionary has angered homosexuals and gay rights advocates.

A new edition of a Chinese dictionary omits the definition of a word that is commonly used to describe homosexuals, reports China’s state-run news agency Xinhua. The sixth edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary does not define the word tongzhi (‘comrade’ in English), which is the colloquial term widely used in China to refer to gay men and women. Their move angered gay rights activists in China, where being homosexual still carries stigma.

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Members of the committee that revised and updated the authoritative dictionary skipped the definition because they did not want to encourage that use of the word, the director of the committee Jiang Langsheng told Chengdu Business Daily. “It’s quite normal that the Chinese government doesn’t want to take this new meaning into the dictionary,” Ding Xuelieng, a social sciences professor from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology told the BBC. “The use of  tongzhi to describe homosexuality started in Hong Kong and Taiwan to make fun of the mainland’s communist terminology because Chinese leaders address each other using ‘tongzhi’.”

Although the colloquial meaning of ‘tongzhi’ didn’t make the cut, notes Shanghaiist, new buzzwords like geili (awesome), leiren (shocking), and weibo (microblog) were added to the dictionary’s new edition.

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