Behind the Firewall

I talked a few weeks ago about some ridiculous ‘loanwords’ most languages rely on – most languages have an equivalent of ‘googeln’, with some being boring and translating directly as ‘to search on Google’, with no funny conjugation involved. Boo hiss. But Chinese doesn’t exactly have this problem – because Baidu and Weibo (that social media your phone always asks you to connect your phone to which you’ve never heard of) have replaced Google and Facebook – behind the ominously named ‘Great Firewall of China’.


Immersion is always a good way to learn a language, and on Chinese language sites there’s really nowhere to hide. There’s no sighs of relief when something on a French website is pre-translated into English, or a tantalising ‘Google Translate this page’ button on the top right hand corner – Google Translate itself is blocked in China, so no more dodgy translations of road signs! Surprisingly though, Bing Translate (which I think is worse, if less Google-y) is allowed inside China, or you can get yourself an actual dictionary, with pages and everything. I’ve heard they don’t block those.

Regulations change thick and fast on the Internet in China, with many new sites and even search terms being blocked every month, and various VPNs and firewall-avoiding SIM cards being tracked down and blocked stopping us tourists getting their Youtube fix (also blocked since 2014 – I know!). But despite the rejection of Western Internet, all plugs are the same format as Europe or Australia, meaning it’s just us over here in the UK who need to be buying (and leaving in the hotel) those adapters.

Three things I learned this week:

  • What Weibo actually is! It’s basically Twitter, but more, err, Chinese
  • Google Translate is blocked in China. I actually have to get a dictionary.
  • The world is ganging up on our plugs.

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2 thoughts on “Behind the Firewall

  1. Meg says:

    Unfortunately I have to admit that not even my favourite translation site has a Chinese dictionary… but has Chinese-German! Not sure how much help this is though…I love your humour!


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