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Joshua Harwood sent in the following photograph taken at a Samsung display in the major shopping center of Xinyi District, Taipei:

The main slogan says:

xiànshí mǎi E sòng E 限時買E送E
("for a limited time buy E / one get E / one")

The usual way to write the offer of "buy one get one" in Chinese is mǎi yī sòng yī 買一送一, but here they're punning with yi 一 ("one") sounding like the "E" of Galaxy E7, the Samsung smartphone that has just gone on sale.This is not the ubiquitous Taiwanese grammatical particle ê [e] that I have written about many times on Language Log, e.g., "No character for the most frequent morpheme in Taiwanese " (12/10/13). That ê [e], when written in romanization, as often happens, usually appears in lowercase as "e".

Going back to the slogan under discussion, Joshua says that he is "left wondering whether they thought up the pun first, then promoted the discount; or already had the discount promotion planned, then thought up the pun for it."

For those who are wondering about the title of this post, "BOGO", it's the marketing industry acronym for "buy one get one".  Cf. BOGOF ("buy one get one free") and BOGOHO ("buy one get one half off").

Notice that there is a slight twist in the way the Chinese version of the slogan is worded.  It's not "[you] buy one [you] get one", but "[you] buy one [we — the merchant] send / give away / present (sòng 送) one".


  1. Bathrobe said,

    February 15, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

    BOGOF, which looks like 'bog off', does not sound very friendly in English.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    February 15, 2015 @ 8:38 pm

    They're probably variants of the same expression (I'm guessing here), but "bug off" sounds even worse to my ear.

  3. Fluxor said,

    February 16, 2015 @ 10:57 am

    The "E" pun is repeated at the bottom of the display, 唯E首選,享樂旗艦, which tries to tell the reader that only "E" is the preferred choice.

  4. Jim said,

    February 17, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

    Every time I see "BOGO", my brain parses it as a variant of "bogus".

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