Please stoop

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Photograph from Paul M in Taipei:

You can read the English for yourself.

The Chinese says:

Rén duō dìfāng
人多地方
"Crowded place"

Qǐng xiàchē qiān xíng zìxíngchē
Màn xià jiǎobù, gǎnshòu zhōuwéi de nǐ wǒ wēndù
請下車牽行自行車
慢下腳步,感受周圍的你我溫度
"Please dismount and walk your bicycle
Slow your steps and feel the temperature of the people around you."

That's a pretty good gauge of how close you are to others!

Since the language struck me as rather unusual, I asked Melvin Lee (a native of Taipei) what he thought of it.  His reply:

I would say this is the typical "wén qīng 文青" ("literary youth"; short for wényì qīngnián 文藝青年 ["youth who are devoted to literature and art"], sometimes referred to by others as "hipsters") language which is very popular in Taiwan among the young generation.

The characteristics of this style of language include using rhymes (in this case, jiǎobù 脚步 ["steps"] and wēndù 溫度 ["literature"]) and a sentimental tone. The message of this sign is to ask the cyclists to walk their bikes in crowded areas. Therefore, it uses very sentimental language to ask cyclists to get off their bikes and slow down their steps to feel the body temperature of "you and me", as if we are all good friends or something. To be honest, sometimes I really can't stand this kind of language, as I feel it is a little bit "ròumá 肉麻" ("creepy").

Considering the mix of Mandarin, Taiwanese, English, Japanese, and other elements in contemporary discourse in Taiwan, the language of the Beautiful Isle is among the most vibrant and varied that can be found anywhere.

[Thanks to Grace Wu]



4 Comments

  1. Jerry Friedman said,

    December 12, 2019 @ 10:46 am

    So where did "stoop" come from? Was the author thinking of "stoop" for "get down (from the bike)"? Or of "stop", and possibly seduced by the opportunity of making the "oo" look like a bicycle, so they didn't check the spelling?

  2. Keith said,

    December 12, 2019 @ 11:30 am

    @Jerry

    I read it as being the word "stop" with a comically long O vowel in the middle, nicely represented by the two bicycle wheels.

  3. JPL said,

    December 12, 2019 @ 4:01 pm

    "… feel the temperature of the people around you": an interesting thing to say right there. An idiomatic English equivalent might focus on the positive value, as in "feel the heat", but a more "hipster" way of expressing that sentiment in English might be "… feel the warmth of the people around you". (I can't say anything about the translation of the Chinese expression, but 'temperature' as a notion is neutral wrt the warm/cool (pos,/neg.) scale.)

  4. cherly said,

    December 15, 2019 @ 8:26 am

    Compared with "slow down and avoid traffic safety", this statement may be more humane and less rigid. I think it's a kind of charm that goes straight to our hearts. It makes us feel that slowing down is not only for protecting ourselves from harm, but also for the good of others.
    In fact, it's also like the advertising language of Dove chocolate: "Milk fragrant, silky feel"which may make people feel like sickening and exaggeration. On the contrary it's better to use silk to describe chocolate's delicacy and smoothness, so as to stimulate people's imagination and desire.
    In a word,a touching and tender sentence is very useful

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