Bryan Van Norden is a Visiting Professor at Wuhan University this semester, and he ran across an interesting bit of language play. Below is a still (taken with his cell phone) of a television commercial currently running in the PRC. It is for a watermelon juice drink. As you can see, the tag line is a bilingual pun, substituting guā 瓜 ("melon") for "God."
Archive for Puns
Everyone knows that the Chinese government goes to extraordinary lengths to police the internet (see: "Blocked on Weibo").
And most sentient beings are aware of the awesome fame of the Grass-Mud Horse, the notorious Franco-Croatian Squid, and and the mysterious River Crab. You can find all of them in "Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon Classics".
Sometimes, the censors begin to look pretty ridiculous, as when they outlawed the word "jasmine" in 2011, particularly since it refers not just to the Jasmine Revolution, but also to a favorite flower, tea, and folk song.
mòlì 茉莉 ("jasmine")
mòlì chá 茉莉茶 ("jasmine tea") OR mòlìhuā chá 茉莉花茶 ("jasmine tea") OR xiāngpiàn 香片 ("scented [usually with jasmine] tea")
mòlìhuā 茉莉花 ("jasmine flower", name of a popular folk song; presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were both excessively fond of this song, and there are videos of them singing it, so it becomes especially awkward to try to forbid citizens to use the word mòlì 茉莉 ("jasmine")
In celebration of Valentine's Day, special commemorative train tickets for a trip between Dàlín (大林) and Guīlái (歸來) were a big hit in Taiwan this morning. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Well, it's not quite as complex as the mixture of languages and scripts that we addressed in "A trilingual, triscriptal ad in the Taipei subway", but the following group of four characters and four phonetic symbols on the container of a fish-based food flavoring (here's the company's web page for this project) raises plenty enough interesting issues to merit its own post.
As spectacularly demonstrated by this YouTube video, it is amazing how much one can say in Mandarin simply by punning with numbers alone:
Michael Robinson sent in this photograph of a strip mall in Flushing Meadows taken by Spencer Kiser and posted on Flickr:
Thomas Lumley sent in this nice multilingual pun from Sydney, Australia: