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'Brokeback' becomes lingo in Chinese
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-04-08 11:09 (KST)   


The gay love story ''Brokeback Mountain'' has spawned a new slang term in Hong Kong.

Headline writers in the Cantonese-speaking territory have started using the new term ''dun bui,'' or ''brokeback,'' to describe homosexual relationships _ like the one depicted in the Oscar-winning film by Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee.

The Oriental Daily News recently published a story about a homosexual hangout in southern China, describing it as ''public toilet Brokeback Mountain.'' Another newspaper, Ming Pao Daily News, recently reported that male pop stars Leo Ku and Justin Lo held hands at a concert ''Brokeback style.'' The slang's meaning seems to be expanding beyond homosexual themes to include relationships that are awkward or just aren't meant to be.

Apple Dailycalled a pair of politicians prevented from forming a party due to circumstances ''obviously a Brokeback couple.'' It was an apparent reference to the inability of the film's gay characters to shun social convention and become a couple.

Cantonese is famous for soaking up all kinds of slang. The language is spoken in Hong Kong, China's southern province of Guangzhou _ formerly known as Canton _ and in Chinatowns all over the world.

Gay activists are divided on whether the new term is helpful or harmful.

Gay activist Cho Man-kit said Hong Kong media snapped up the word ''Brokeback'' because it provided a vehicle to discuss homosexuality.

''Everyone wanted a means by which to discuss the homosexual issue without restraint, but there never was one,'' Cho said. ''Once 'Brokeback' emerged, the intense desire to talk about gays was released.'' But Roddy Shaw, another gay activist, said he considered most of Hong Kong media's usage of ''Brokeback'' to be negative because itappeared aimed to exoticize gays.

The term was rarely used in a serious context, such as in stories about gay rights.

''It's devolved into a derogatory term that doesn't sound as bad,'' Shaw said.

Cho hoped that ''Brokeback'' would eventually have a positive influence.

''This word is very powerful. The movie is about breaking taboos, about the fluidity of sexual identity and physical love,'' he said.

''It's about the high malleability of human sexuality and how a heterosexual and homosexual relationship can be equally deep.'' It's not the first time a movie title has become part of the popular lexicon, often in English.

The 1987 thriller ''Fatal Attraction'' about how a fling turns into a nightmare for a married man became synonymous with an obsessive affair.

''Sophie's Choice,'' a 1982 movie about a woman forced to abandon one of her two children as she's sent to a Nazi concentration camp, is often used to describe a hard decision.

After the 1977 aliens-visit-Earth film ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind'' hit theaters, people started to have ''close encounters'' with all kinds of things.

The terrorist thriller ''Snakes on a Plane'' hasn't even been released yet and it has already wriggled into the lexicon, according to the Urban Dictionary on the Internet. The Web site says the phrase can be used for simple existential observations, like ''Whaddya gonna do?''
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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