This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Word To Use Today: shengmu.

Sheng mu can mean several things in Mandarin Chinese expressions. It partly depends on the diacritical marks (the small squiggly things that are usually known as accents).

Shēng mŭ is used to describe the first consonant of a Chinese syllable. It also means natural mother or birth mother.  

Shèng mŭ, however, means holy mother, goddess, or the Virgin Mary.

It's this last version of shengmu that's beginning to be seen used in English, though it's nothing to do with goddesses. Instead shengmu has begun to be used (in Mandarin and English) to describe someone whose politics are based on claims of a large and hypocritical amount of self-inflating empathy.

It's a word to leap upon joyfully, but it's also a very young word in English, and for the time being I fear it must be used with caution, as in China it tends to have an anti-refugee slant which has been used to insult even ordinary citizens who express sympathy with displaced persons, so it's a word that's teetering between the useful and the appalling. 

Still, if it does end up allowing us to insult the hypocritically saintly among us then it's going to be a very useful, isn't it.

Word To Use Today: shengmu. This word comes from the Mandarin Chinese.

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