The dictionary according to the censors

We found an English dictionary here in town at an imported books store. JM was excited to have a volume with definitions of words like “stochasticity,” meaning it is a pretty good quality volume. It’s a normal Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, printed in America and shipped over here to China.

On arrival at home we were surprised to find some entries.. missing! Someone got to our dictionary first, and was able to remove some of the more ‘sensitive’ information from the listings. If you look over at our picture site, you will see what we mean.

We’re constantly reminded about the difference in freedom of information here. When chatting with some Chinese students about friends of ours who started their own locally circulated newspaper, they were astounded that our friend could do so on his own initiative. The point became clear when our newspaper translation class teacher told us how every single publication in China must be registered with the regional publication bureau to have an official status, or else it’s illegal, i.e.- it is potentially subversive to the national order.

We don’t ever think about the Bill of Rights until part of it seems missing in our life. This reminds us again how we can’t take it for granted what privileges we have in comparison to many others.


1 Response to “The dictionary according to the censors”

  1. 1 Irene Grumman September 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    This is outrageous. It’s also foolish, because the readers’ attention will be attracted and curiosity aroused by the censor tape. The practice does have the advantage of warning the readers what not to talk about in public, which may keep them out of jail.

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