## Printing error on a Chinese lunch delivery bag

Eric Pelzl sent in this photograph of a bag from a lunch delivery that contains an interesting printing error:

The Chinese characters on the bag read:

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù huánjìng 珍爱地球 保护环境
("treasure the earth, protect the environment")

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù jiāyuán 珍爱地球 保护家園
("Treasure the earth, protect your home")

So we find a discrepancy in the last words (the last two syllables) of the Pinyin and the character versions.  Otherwise they are identical.

Incidentally, the word jiāyuán 家園 may be translated as "home", but it also connotes "home and its surroundings".

What's the most likely explanation for how this happened?

bǎohù huánjìng 保护环境
("protect the environment")
1,500,000 ghits

bǎohù jiāyuán 保护家園
285,000 ghits

As a four-character expression, the first is over five times more frequent than the second.

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù huánjìng 珍爱地球 保护环境
("treasure the earth, protect the environment")
10,800 ghits

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù jiāyuán 珍爱地球 保护家園
("treasure the earth, protect your home")
4,810 ghits

As an eight-character, two-clause expression, the first is 2.25 times more frequent than the second.

There is, however, a completely homophonous, and very nearly synonymous, formulation:

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù huánjìng 真愛地球 保护环境
("love the earth, protect the environment")
6 ghits

zhēn'ài dìqiú bǎohù jiāyuán 真愛地球 保护家園
("love the earth, protect your home")
803 ghits

The latter is over 133 times more frequent than the former.  Maybe that's what was in the mind of the person who was responsible for the Pinyin, and that may have been what triggered the error.

1. ### Stephen Hart said,

August 15, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

Could this have arisen in some way from the common phrase "the ecology" to mean "the environment"? Add the Greek "house" origin and you have "protect your house."

2. ### Gnoey said,

August 16, 2015 @ 1:26 am

As a native Chinese speaker, personally I find 真爱地球 a slightly awkward expression. Why the need to use 真 ("true")? So there is 假爱地球 ("love the Earth in a false way")? I would even venture to suggest that 真爱 in this case is a typo of 珍爱 (since both are typed as "zhen ai" using Pinyin), which probably explains the relatively low frequency of the former.

There might be a very prosaic explanation for the discrepancy between the Chinese characters and the Pinyin in the photo. The designer probably had in mind one version (家园 jiayuan/ 环境 huanjing) first and used the characters and Pinyin correctly. But later for some reason, someone changed the characters but forgot to change the Pinyin (or maybe vice versa).

Incidentally, I think 保护环境 ("protect the environment") gels better with 珍爱地球, compared to 保护家园 ("protect your home"). Maybe it's the environment I grew up in, but I associate 保护家园 with something more along the lines of "protect your home from invaders / crime / disaster" etc. Of course it is not wrong to use it in the context of protecting the natural environment either.