A new dictionary, out from Oxford University Press, incorporates some very earthy Chinese slang expressions and new words, including some that you can’t invoke without having to rinse your mouth out with soap

(Now, you’re dying to know what they are, aren’t you?)

Although these street-talk words (among other more socially acceptable words) only made it to the parallel universe of the Oxford English-Chinese, Chinese-English dictionary — not the more definitive Oxford English Dictionary — it has set off a frisson of etymological excitement among folks in China. Some see it as the beginning of a lexicographic lead-in to a world that will, progressively, speak Chinese — and in countless other ways be ‘Sinified’ by Chinese soft-power influences.

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On October 1, China will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding as a modern nation-state. It is a momentous anniversary since it marks the completion of a full 60-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, and symbolises a metaphorical rebirth of an ancient civilisation. To mark this milestone moment, the Chinese government will unveil a dazzling series of events to showcase the country’s evolution and ascendance, much as it did at last year’s Beijing Olympics.

The anniversary coincidentally comes at a time of Great Change in the world economic order. That coming economic powershift is underlined by the global financial meltdown of 2008 and the enfeebled nature of Western economies, coupled with China’s rapid economic growth in the 30 years since it opened up to the point where, in Goldman Sachs’ bullish estimation, it will be the world’s largest economy by 2027!

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