The Corner

A Question of Usage

The Chinese government calls the Dalai Lama a “splittist,” meaning I suppose someone who wants to split Tibet from China. That is a lie, but I am interested in usage. Is the word, translated as “splittist,” ugly and un-idiomatic in Chinese, as jargon often is? If it isn’t, why don’t we translate it as “secessionist,” “divider,” even “splitter”?

We have enough junk in our heads, why go out of way to create more?

Richard Brookhiser — Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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