My Take

Good luck with the new political party, Joshua, but shame about the name

First we had Scholarism, now we have Demosisto – what are our young wannabe politicians thinking?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2016, 1:34am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:36pm

In keeping with their tradition of picking the worst possible name for themselves, the young activists who previously formed Scholarism have now launched a political party called Demosisto.

Way back then, I thought “scholarism” was a neologism. No doubt its co-founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung, then a secondary school student, thought so too.

It’s “scholar” followed by “ism”, something like a system of thought or belief that is scholarly and thoughtful, perhaps?

The word turned out to be just an ugly word that fell into disuse after the late 1980s. A 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “pedantic learning”. An earlier edition even offers a helpful example: the word means pedantic methods bordering on plagiarism to advance one’s academic career.

Some recent editions no longer consider “scholarism” a proper word, recommending instead the word scholastic.

If there is one good thing about Scholarism being disbanded, it is that English writers can now put this non-word out of its misery.

Hong Kong independence not feasible ... for now, says new pro-democracy group Demosisto

Alas, young Joshua wouldn’t let up and has come back with another made-up word.

I had no idea what Demosisto meant, so I looked it up.

A Wikipedia page, probably written by Wong and his friends, helpfully offers the following explanation, which I have not edited: “The name is derived from the Greek ‘demo’ (meaning ‘people’ in which English word ‘democracy’ derived from) and Latin ‘sisto’ (meaning ‘to stand’ in which English words such as ‘insist’, ‘persist’ and ‘resist’ derived from).”

Wow, you need Greek and Latin to know what it means. So much for populism. Shouldn’t the name of a political party be easy to say and remember, and be immediately identifiable as to its political agenda for its supporters and potential voters? I doubt many of them have had a Western classical education. The group’s Chinese name is a little better. At least it has “Hong Kong” in it, and means, roughly, the people’s will.

While I don’t share the politics of Wong and his gang, I wish them well. They have taken a more moderate stance than the radical localists who call for Hong Kong’s independence, and accept that Hong Kong people may legitimately choose to remain part of China.

If only they would pick a more user-friendly name for themselves.