How do you pronounce “革命ing”?

Last night over 300 students and demonstrators took over Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan in protest of a secret trade agreement with China. For some background and context over the protest I recommend reading Michael Turton’s excellent blog posts on the ECFA trade agreement. And there is also an English language live-blog of the protest for those who wish to follow the news as it develops. What I want to focus on here, however, is one image from that live blog:

The photo, by Min Hong (敏紅), is of well known Taiwanese historian and political activist, Su Bing. A long time opponent of the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) who once plotted to assassinate Chiang Kai Shek, it isn’t surprising that he is sitting in front of a poster demanding independence for Taiwan (台獨). What is a little surprising is the use of the English suffix “ing.” The phrase on the bottom is “全民革命ing.” Without the “ing” it is a call to revolution. Actually, the entire banner is the name of an organization which has been translated by Su Bing’s biographer as “Taiwan Independence Citizens Revolution.”

全民革命ing is an ongoing campaign advocating Taiwan’s independence through nonviolent means. The group produces daily web TV shows and participates in rallies against the Republic of China, a regime in exile, which occupied Taiwan after loosing the civil war in China to the Chinese Communist Party. The goal of 全民革命ing is to summon at least 20,000 protesters to call for Taiwan’s independence.

This use of the “ing” was discussed on Language Log back in 2008 where it was noted that this use of “ing” is “apparently the derivational noun-forming -ing, not the inflectional gerund-participle -ing — though it’s hard to tell, in the cases where the words have no real English counterpart.” They also note that it was done by students (largely on Taiwan’s still-active BBS community) long before politicians started to do so.

But how do you pronounce it? As far as I know, you don’t. It seems to be largely a written convention that isn’t really used in speech (although I’m sure there are exceptions). But in this charming music video (which I always use to great effect in my linguistic anthropology class) the letters are spelled out “i, n, g.” (The title of the song translates as “loving”):

For more on creative Chinese borrowings and other aspects of Chinese writing, be sure to read the Victor Mair archives on language log, including this post on “er”.

UPDATE: Over at Language Log Victor Mair has a followup post where he “asked several native speakers how they would say “全民革命ing” purely in Chinese.”

One thought on “How do you pronounce “革命ing”?

  1. When you say “call to revolution,” do you mean revolution in the sense of violence (as opposed to the nonviolence advocated)? Even before adding an “ing”, 革命 has been used by Taiwan independence activists to convey non-violent activism. The Taiwan Alliance for Referendum, an organization of mostly older activists who have been outside the Legislative Yuan for six years almost, call themselves a “revolutionary army of the elderly” (老人革命軍), although they explicitly consider themselves non-violent. I wonder what the “ing” adds, since it has shown up elsewhere on t-shirts these groups have made. It would be interesting to trace its usage according to age. Su Bing himself is in his mid 90s.

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