Image: The Sword of Orion from NASA

Finalized: December 31, 2017

Posted: January 3, 2018


Chinese character: 狂Good Characters, the California-based naming consultancy that specializes in Chinese languages, announced 狂 (kuáng) to be the Chinese Character of the Year 2017.


A Brief History


Back in 1995, the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society began its annual announcement of the kanji of the year. Kanji are the adopted Chinese characters in the Japanese language. Kanji quite literally translates to—kan: Han Chinese and –ji: characters.


Eleven years down the road, in 2006, the Chinese character of the year began to be announced annually in China. A few years later, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Macao, and finally, Hong Kong also started to choose their own Chinese character of the year.


Another 11 years has passed, and we as Chinese language brand naming specialists, thought it would be fitting that there should be a Chinese character of the year from the American perspective. After all, Chinese is the third most-spoken language in the United States.


So here we go! The first Good Characters Chinese Character of the Year 2017 for America is . . . 狂 (kuáng).


Why was 狂 (kuáng) chosen?


Chinese character: 狂If we look at the construction of the character, the character 狂 consists of 犭on the left and 王 on the right. 犭, the radical form of 犬, is dog or indicates an animal. 王 is king.


For left-leaning Americans, 2017 was a dog’s life politically in many respects.


Right-leaning Americans saw a president who broke away from past political correctness and commanded like a king, though not without fierce resistance.


And together, we experienced a reality TV presidency that has been kind of “crazy” — one of the meanings of 狂.


So 狂 has many meanings and associations, including mad, crazy, wild, violent, unrestrained, and eccentric. It is a character with meanings that can be positive or negative, depending on your perspective.


Chinese character: 狂
Chinese character: 熱Simplified Chinese: 热
Chinese character: 狂
Chinese character: 言


Chinese character: 欣
Chinese character: 喜
Chinese character: 若
Chinese character: 狂
President Trump has a group of extremely devoted supporters: supporters who are 狂熱 (kuáng rè), frantically enthusiastic about him. His 狂言 (kuáng yán), ravings, to the supporters’ ears are honest and simple statements that they value. Trump is a bit of a 工作狂 (gōng zuò kuáng), workaholic (or at least a Twitter-holic). For him and his supporters, Make America Great Again is not a 狂想 (kuáng xiǎng), beyond the reality fantasy, but an obtainable goal. Thus supporters all 欣喜若狂 (xīn xǐ ruò kuáng), ecstatically, celebrated President Trump’s first year and his major pro-business accomplishments.


Chinese character: 狂
Chinese character: 風Simplified Chinese: 风
Chinese character: 暴
Chinese character: 雨


President Trump’s opponents, on the other hand, worried about him being 狂妄自大 (kuáng wàng zì dà), reckless and arrogant. Is he a 自戀狂 (zì liàn kuáng), narcissist? Some also wondered about his mental state, whether he is 瘋狂 (fēng kuáng), crazy, or not. Many extreme weather disaster events such as 狂風暴雨 (kuáng fēng bào yǔ), fierce wind and heavy rain storms, namely Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, were viewed as the result of climate change. We have seen activists trying their hardest to 力挽狂瀾 (lì wǎn kuáng lán), turn the tide. Oh, how fitting for the sea-level rising, on political and environmental issues.


Chinese character: 力
Chinese character: 挽
Chinese character: 狂
Chinese character: 瀾Simplified Chinese: 澜


President Trump acted 狂 (kuáng), meaning unrestrained (it can be associated with being forceful and break away from old ways of doing things in a positive sense) or crazy (mostly negative) depending on your view, but he is most likely not a 狂人 (kuáng rén), meaning madman. Most Americans are not so sure about that leader of a country in the north who has been ordering missile tests, however.


In 2017, we had also seen many seemly untouchable “kings” in their fields finally exposed of sexual assault and harassments toward women and became “dogs” with tails between their legs.


In conclusion, 2017 had been a dramatic year full of wild, 狂, rides. And 狂 is a character that can be used by everyone whether they think the country is going in the right or wrong direction.


Added December 12, 2018: I didn’t research this at the time, but I just recently realized that President Trump was born in 1946, the year of the dog.


Chinese character: 狂


Good Characters, the California-based naming consultancy that specializes in Chinese languages, announced 狂 (kuáng) to be the Chinese Character of the Year 2017.

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