Top Annual Chinese Characters and Words of 2010

January 11, 2011 | Posted by Vicky

The internet term "gěilì" was a top Chinese word for 2010. It expresses being upright and capable.

Each year over the past five, the "Annual Chinese Characters and Words of Chinese Language Check" report is published in Beijing by Chinese online and print publishing companies. The reports aims at highlighting the Chinese words that best summarize the experience of the previous year of Chinese people -- including both existing and newly coined words.

Published this past week, the report highlights four words in total. They are:

Words to describe domestic situation

  1. zhǎng or zhàng
    To rise, to go up, to swell
  2. 给力
    The power to give, the power to be upright and capable

Words to describe international situation

  1. luàn
    Messy or chaotic
  2. 军演
    Military exercise rehearsal

The top annual Chinese characters in context

The tops words on display, above, in calligraphy art form.

This year is the second time that the character "涨" has been selected as the annual domestic Chinese character (it was also selected in 2007). The character "涨" means to rise, and one application of the word refers to rising inflation that Chinese people have been experiencing for the past several months. For example, food inflation in China is expected to hit 10% in 2011, and there have been reports that cooking oil is getting particularly expensive fast. Commentators also said that this character may refer to the rise of the China's national power and the popular enthusiasm Chinese people feel about their country's growth and social prospects.

给力 The word "给力" first became popular on the internet, but spread fast when it was picked up by newspapers. While words on the internet are often characteristically mischievous or rebellious, the word "给力" is positive and suggests making progress in a humanistic sense. As the report says, "给力" can give people a warm feeling and be used to express earnest wishes, something that is useful and good and bad times!

"乱" means messy or chaotic, and chosen to describe the Chinese view of international goings-on, it refers to the natural disasters that have taken place all over the world. For example, in the past year, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, Indonesia saw terrible wild fires, and Chinese citizens were taken hostage in Manila.

军演 The second word to describe the international perspective is "军演," which means military rehearsals. This choice is reported to refer to the many military and navy rehearsals that the US and its allies have staged in China's backyard in 2010. For example, major navy rehearsals with Korea were held off China's coast in the Yellow Sea after North Korea shelled a South Korean civilian island. This past year there has also been buzz about territorial claims in the South China Sea, which has been a sensitive issue for China, its southeastern Asian neighbors, and the US.

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