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Current Location: Homepage » Chinese Reading » Extensive Reading » Main Body

中国青年新定义 -- “普文二”

Profile:Defining China's youth in a word, or three
Would you describe yourself as ordinary, artistic, idiotic, or maybe something else?
Over the past few days, the creation of a new word, which is a combination of three individual words, to describe Chinese youth has created a major buzz on the country's leading social network websites.
"Pu-wen-er", which combines the abbreviations for putong (ordinary), wenyi (artistic) and erbi (idiotic), has become the hot new expression to describe China's ordinary, artistic and idiotic youth.
The three words, which allow three items to be humorously grouped together under the same category, has become hugely popular, as tens of thousands of young people rushed to tag themselves on the Internet.
It all started around Oct. 24 when a netizen named "Daxian" launched a campaign on Douban.com to compare the differences between three kinds of young people. In just a few days, the campaign attracted tens of thousands of composite photos and phrases posted by netizens as they sought to interpret modern life through the younger generation's eyes.
The composite photos usually consisted of three images of a young person in his or her ordinary, artistic and idiotic forms, representing his or her ordinary characteristics, cultural sensibility and funny or socially awkward deeds respectively.
Netizens also posted composite photos of celebrities, animals, plants, cartoon characters and video game characters with three apparent pu-wen-er statuses on social network websites.
Similar to the photos, the phrases also attempt to describe the rosy, romantic mood of artistic youth and the humorous or extremely frank attitude of idiotic youth.

The three types of youth have their own fans. "Pu" fans enjoy a low profile, ordinary life; "wen" fans prefer a more romantic outlook, while "er" fans love to be frank, unique or idiotic, as the mood takes them.
The new classification has certainly caught the imagination of Internet users. A netizen called "Tuzichou" from Tianjin wrote: "Since pu-wen-er was invented, I couldn't help classifying everything I can see into three types."
However, an article in the China Youth Daily pointed out that it's not easy to place individuals into one, fixed group. For instance, a person might be ordinary when facing strangers, outgoing among close friends and sentimental when alone.
"Everyone has a moment of pu, wen or er respectively, and everyone could have pu-wen-er characteristics at the same time," wrote a netizen named "Chunfeng chunyu youshihao."
"The three types reflect three aspects of a person," said Hou Ruihe, a psychologist and counselor at Renmin University of China. "The ordinary type adheres to common social principles, the idiotic type attempts to fight against conventions and pressures, while the artistic type seeks a balance between his or her social role and sense of individuality."
According to Xiao Beiying, an associate professor at Huaqiao University, pu-wen-er fans tend to behave frivolously and the phenomenon might lead to the misunderstanding of Internet culture.

However, Li Zhen, a professor at Zhejiang Normal University, disagreed with that assertion, commenting that the creation and spreading of pu-wen-er is an important way for young people to deal with pressure and stresses and improve social focus.

(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing November 14, 2011, Wendy 译)


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