Friday, January 23, 2009

Word of the Day: Bu Zheteng

On December 18, President Hu Jintao made a speech marking the 30th anniversary of reform and opening-up drive.

And in it, he used the colloquial phrase bu zheteng which is rare particularly in such a formal occasion.

In his speech, Hu said: "Don't sway back and forth, relax our efforts or get sidetracked, but firmly push forward the reform and opening-up as well as adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics. In that way, we will definitely achieve our grand blueprint and ambitious objectives [on realizing modernization in the middle of the 21st century]," according to a Xinhua story.

However, translators were caught in a tizzy wondering the best way to translate bu zheteng.

It has the meaning of "stop making trouble" or "stop wasting time".

It gives the impression Hu is lecturing the people as if they are children.

The Chinese ambassador to Namibia Ren Xiaoping weighed in on the matter and she felt it should be "avoid self-inflicted setbacks".

Sounds similar to collateral damage.

Then a few days ago Chinese linguist and translator Ji Xianlin said it should be translated as "no trouble making" which many agreed was pretty much spot on.

Perhaps bu zheteng will fast become the catch-phrase of 2009... because in these bad financial times, we should all do our best to avoid self-inflicted setbacks.

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