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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).

Qíngrén jié yídòng chē 情人节移动PaPa车 ("Valentine's Day Mobile PaPa Van")

zhāoshǒu jí tíng 招手即停 ("stops when hailed")

You're probably wondering what "PaPa" (or "PaPaPa", as at the top of the van in the middle) means.  To be blunt, it's internet slang for "having sex".

The Chengdu Bureau for Industry and Commerce, upon receiving complaints about the signage on the vans (there were two of them roaming the city streets like ice cream trucks) ordered the start-up that operated the vans to remove the advertisements, whereupon the owners covered up the objectionable parts with cardboard.

BTW, this is another in our long series of posts featuring multiscriptal signs.

[h.t. Mark Metcalf]


  1. Lai Ka Yau said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 9:32 am

    Interesting that it's written in letters in the Mainland. In Hong Kong, the slang term is always written in characters (啪啪啪), and it's always trisyllabic, not disyllabic.

  2. languagehat said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 9:38 am

    Is anything known about where and when this bit of slang originated?

  3. John said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 9:50 am

    To add to what Lai Ka Yau said, in Taiwan it's often written as %%%, due to the colloquial habit of referring to X percent as "X-pa" (pa being the closest approximation Mandarin has to the first syllable of "percent.") I'm actually surprised it's not written that way in HK, because I thought that was where pronouncing % as pa came from.

  4. Dan Lufkin said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 11:24 am

    Is anything known about the actual function of the truck? Aside from not being ice cream?

  5. Chandra said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

    I'm rather unpleasantly reminded of "fap fap fap", which is English Internet slang for masturbation.

  6. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 4:25 pm

    What were the vans selling?

  7. Deborah said,

    February 16, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

    Actually in the Mainland people also use it in a trisyllabic way "啪啪啪". It is a kind of onomatopoeic word describing the sound could be made during having sex. Imagine it :) Now it becomes a slang for “having sex”.

  8. Graeme said,

    February 18, 2017 @ 8:20 am

    Perhaps these are rental vans pitched at blokes?

    Tame compared to what a company called 'Wicked' did for years in Australia to attract attention:

  9. エリック・ビニール said,

    February 20, 2017 @ 10:34 pm


    FWIW, “percent” in Japanese is paasento.

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