From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them.
It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children.
The casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than “cultural and linguistic chaos”, it warns.
Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.