Archive for Language and advertising

Preserved wife plum

No, these are not plums consisting of preserved wives, nor are they plums made by preserved wives, nor are they anything else you are likely to think of based on the English name.

Why am I even talking about this?  How did this bizarre subject come up?

In a comment to "Vegetable students" (7/11/17), David Morris asked about the name of a Chinese snack called "Preserved Wife Plum" that a colleague offered to him.  He said that "three Chinese speaking ESL or translating teachers couldn't explain" the name.  I made some preliminary attempts to describe what this snack was like, but David and John Swindle repeated the request for an explanation of the name.

I was snared.

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Vegetable students

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Katakana in Australia

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From "reach out" to "outreach"

In response to "May I ask you a question?" (6/12/17), we've been having an energetic discussion about the origins and meaning of the expression "reach out", culminating (as of this moment) in Nick Kaldis' good question:

This topic causes an interesting related neologism to come to mind: when did “outreach” come into currency? Our campus has, for instance, a “Community Outreach” office.

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Don't forget to pay pay pay pay pay the rent

Recently, signs like this one showed up in the Shanghai subway:

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PaPaPa

My, my! What does the signage on this van in Chengdu, Sichuan Province (China) say?

From: "Chinese firm ordered to remove sexually suggestive Valentine’s Day advertisements" (SCMP, 2/15/17).

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Portable air filter for North China smog

Ad in the Beijing subway:

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Multiculturalism meets international trade

From Bill Thomas via John Rohsenow:

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He comfortable! He quickly dry!

A neighbor of mine, a respectable woman retired from medical practice, set a number of friends of hers a one-question quiz this week. The puzzle was to identify an item she recently purchased, based solely on what was stated on the tag attached to it. The tag said this (I reproduce it carefully, preserving the strange punctuation, line breaks, capitalization, and grammar, but replacing two searchable proper nouns by xxxxxxxx because they might provide clues):

ABOUT xxxxxxxx
He comfortable
He elastic
He quickly dry
He let you unfettered experience and indulgence. Please! Hurry up
No matter where you are. No matter what you do.
Let xxxxxxxx Change your life,
Become your friends, Partner,
Part of life

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Free Tea

Advertisement for a beverage that is available in Japanese convenience stores:

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Phono-semantic rebranding

There's a new article on linguistic borrowing by Jane C. Hu in Quartz (10/23/16):  "The genius and stupidity of corporate America are on display when companies rebrand for new countries".  The article originally had a better title:  "Phono-semantic matching is corporate America's best option when trying to rebrand for new countries".

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iPhone in China

Q:  How do you say "iPhone 7" and "iPhone 7 Plus" in Chinese?

A:  "iPhone 7" and "iPhone 7 Plus".

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Pick a word, any word

To access an article in the Financial Times yesterday I found myself confronted with a short market-research survey about laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Answer three our four layers of click-the-box questions, and I could get free access to the article I wanted to look at. A reasonable bargain: clearly some company was prepared to pay the FT for access to its online readers' opinions. And at the fourth layer down I faced a question which asked me to choose a single word that comes into my mind when I think of a certain Microsoft product.

My choice, from all the tens of thousands of words at my disposal, and the word I picked would go straight into the market research department of the one corporation, above all others, for whose products I have the greatest degree of contempt. Just choose that one evocative word and type it in, and I would be through to my article. A free choice. Which word to pick?

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