Archive for Language and advertising

Inspirational PLA Video

[The following is a guest post by Mark Metcalf, a retired Naval officer and adjunct Lecturer in Chinese Literature at the University of Virginia.]

One of the joys of being semi-retired is having the luxury of being able to chase the occasional squirrel that appears in my field of view. This morning one of those squirrels appeared in the form of a South China Morning Post article:

"‘Just waiting for the order to kill, kill, kill’: China’s military tries to woo young recruits with slick video featuring rock and rap soundtrack" (5/4/16)

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Candidate for President

ICYMI, the median presidential candidate TV ad:

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The mostest and the bestest

Photograph of a sign in Hangzhou:

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Fruity bar

One of the items in the gift box handed out to the thousands of runners in the Qingyuan marathon in Guangdong province last Sunday:

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Poetic Vienna

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Allstate in Chinese hands

In "Our hands, your mystification" (3/12/16), Mark Liberman found an English translation of the Chinese version of the iconic Allstate slogan, "You're in good hands with Allstate", in a 2003 Chicago Tribune article, and it comes out as "Turn to our hands to be worry-free."

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Our hands, your mystification

This morning, a site that I often visit displayed in the upper right of the front page a small Allstate Insurance ad featuring the slogan "Hamare haath, aapke saath." This caught my linguistic attention, and since there was a vivid purple button reading  LEARN MORE , I dutifully clicked on it.

But the result was just a larger Allstate page displaying the same slogan:

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Tell the truth!

It was a linguistic maneuver that had possibly never been tried before in the history of real estate: tell the straight truth about the property, no varnishing, no slathering with adjectives like "stunning". Just tell it like it is. One brave firm of real estate agents, Scott & Stapleton in England, tried it as a way of getting rid of a run-down apartment in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. The manager, Rob Kahl, wrote the copy:

Not for the faint hearted this first floor flat is being sold as seen, rubbish and all!

Having recently just had to evict some charming (not) tenants the vendors of this property have had enough and can't even face setting foot in what used to be their sweet and charming home.

I can't flower this one up or use my normal estate agent jargon to make this sound any better.

The property is full of rubbish, there is mould on the walls and I think there may even be some fleas there to keep me company when I carry out the viewings.

To conclude, the advertisement advised those viewing the property to "wipe your feet on the way out".

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Both Chinese and Japanese; neither Japanese nor Chinese

An ad for a new product of a Hong Kong cake shop went viral for taking pseudo-Japanese to the extreme:

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Technical Sauna at Buddy Hair

Another intriguing sign from Nagoya, Japan sent in by Nathan Hopson:

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Clogged drains and "Uncle Hanzi"

I spotted this photograph in an article that I'll describe below:

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The mysteries of 13.5

China is in the throes of hammering out its next five-year plan, on the model of the USSR.  For China, the current one they're working on is the thirteenth, so they refer to it as 13.5.  In Mandarin, that would be shísānwǔ 十三五.  Although the Communist bureaucrats think these five-year plans are hugely important, for the common citizen they are dreadfully boring.  For non-Chinese looking on, they are worse than boring, so — in an effort to explain and hype 13.5 to English speakers around the world, the Chinese Communist Party has sponsored the making of a glitzy-cutesy video that enjoins viewers to "pay attention to the shisanwu!"

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Charged with prejudice and paranoia

Peculiar ad for a portable charger from AliExpress:

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