Friday 22 November 2019

New Chinese character threatens to 'break the internet'

Graham Ruddick

The launch of a new word in China is threatening to break the internet, with the character being shared millions of times despite no-one knowing what it means.

The character, known as "duang", has appeared more than 8m times on China's leading social media site Weibo since it emerged a week ago, generating hundreds of thousands of online conversations.

Foreign Policy, the magazine, has now dubbed the character as a "break the internet" viral meme in the same ilk as last year's image of Kim Kardashian and last week's multi-coloured dress.

The new character has connections to film star Jackie Chan.

 A fake advert featuring Chan, who sponsors numerous products in China, appeared on video streaming site Youku for herbal shampoo Bawang, which Chan endorses.

At the end of advert, Chan appears to say of the product: “It’s just … it’s just … duang!”

The video then gained traction among China's youth, with many speculating what "duang" meant. A new Chinese character was then circulated to represent the word, which is made up of the two characters that form Chan's Chinese name.

Interest in the character grew rapidly after Chain posted the Bawang advert on his Weibo page.

The word is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that phonetically imitates a sound. There are no direct translations of the word in English.

The new characters are the not the first to generate excitement on the internet in recent days. Last month it emerged that Apple had developed a diverse collection of new emoji.

Apple has been developing the emoji for at least a year. Last March, it said: "There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard."

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