CCP scamming with a Taiwanese-like accent

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Topolects matter:

Taiwanese buys anti-CCP book, gets scam call from Chinese propagandist:

Caller posing as Eslite Bookstore’s ‘marketing department’ tells consumer book content inappropriate

By Stephanie Chiang, Taiwan News, Staff Reporter (5/14/23)

Before delving into the substance of this report, I should mention that Eslite is a huge, and hugely influential, bookstore in Taiwan.

AntC, who called this article to my attention, remarks:

A 'scammer' (not sure that's the right term here) called someone who'd bought a book at Eslite book store, Taipei. Then proceeded with a fake 'customer survey' about the purchase. The customer's facebook post (in Chinese) relating the interaction is here.

The linguistic interest: "despite the caller’s Taiwanese-like accent, it became apparent to her that she was not truly a Taiwanese native."

The episode seems to have been picked up by the Taiwan Statebuilding Party, who gave a press conference — so this might be a media beat-up.
Eslite has come under repeated fire for breaches of customer data security.  They're in trouble again ('please explain') over this incident.
The scam call's International code +28 is unused, according to wp; first digit +2x in general denotes Africa.

One wonders what the "scammer" hoped to accomplish by this clumsy fakery.  Sheer intimidation?


Selected readings


  1. AntC said,

    May 16, 2023 @ 4:55 pm

    Other book-related recent news in the Sinosphere 'Tiananmen Square books removed from Hong Kong libraries in run-up to anniversary'.

    Eslite books HK has already been practicing self-censorship over many years [see their wp page, recent media reports]. You've got to admire anybody even trying to run a bookstore in PRC.

  2. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    May 17, 2023 @ 7:43 am

    Wondering if anyone who actually knows some Chinese can lend a hand. Why does Bing translate: "《阿共打來怎麼辦》 誠品書店 eslite bookstore個資外洩,阿共真的打來了啦!!!​" as: "What to do when the Albanian Communist Party called" Eslite Bookstore personal assets leaked, the Albanian Communist Party really called!!!"?

  3. Jonathan Smith said,

    May 17, 2023 @ 10:09 pm

    @ Benjamin E. Orsatti
    da3 打 polysemy + Bing is crap —
    the book in question's Chinese title is
    《阿共打來怎麼辦》"What if the Commies [da3 lai2 =] attack (here/us)?"
    So the Youtube video is named
    (After) the Eslite Bookstore customer data leak, the Commies really [da3 lai2 le] = called (me on the phone)!"

  4. AntC said,

    May 18, 2023 @ 12:15 am

    @B.E.O. (@JS thanks Bing is c*** — yes I avoid)

    I can't claim to actually know some Chinese, but both G.Translate and DeepL manage better than Bing — at least no Albanian anything.

    誠品書店 is the Chinese name for eslite bookstore [see their wp entry]; the translate tools seem to be getting thrown by mixing languages and repeating stuff — where the actual comment is playing on the title of the book quoted in 《…》. (I'm surprised at DeepL: that's not uncommon.)

    阿共 pronounced 'Ā gòng' seems to amount to '(Chinese) Communist Party', but I can't exactly match that to the renderings on wp. I wonder if it's some sort of abbreviation/pet name? (JS gives 'Commies') If I split up the original phrasing and give it to the engines piecemeal, the final phrase (after the comma) 阿共真的打來了啦 GTranslate gives 'Ah Gong is really calling. If I give it the whole text: '…, the A Communist Party really called'. I guess Bing dealt with the 'A' as 'Albania' (?).

    《阿共打來怎麼辦》= 《Book title》 'What should I do if the Communist Party calls?' [GT]; 'What to do when the Communist Party calls' [DeepL]

    個資外洩 = 'personal data leakage' [GT]; 'Personal Information Leak' [DeepL]

    阿共真的打來了啦 = 'Ah Gong is really calling' [GT]; 'The Communist Party is really coming!' [DeepL]

    (And I really don't understand why so many people on LLog are impressed by machine translation 'progress'. This need for creative re-interpretation is what I experience all the time with the engines. Pretty much: if I didn't already know what the message says, the translation would be just perplexing.)

  5. Vincent C said,

    May 19, 2023 @ 8:43 pm


    That's right. "a-" is a common prefix in southern China (and Taiwanese, of course) denoting familiarity, comparable to "xiao-" in Mandarin (e.g., a-bîng 阿明 vs. xiaoming 小明). Of course, the sense of familiarity here is meant to be belittling as if one is calling a child. "The Commies" is indeed a good equivalent in translation.

    When referring to the Communist Parties in different countries, it is not uncommon (although now sometimes considered derogative) to abbreviate the name as "country (one-character abbreviation) + 共." For instance, CCP is often referred to as Zhonggong 中共, Malayan Communist Party as Magong 馬共, Japanese Communist Party as 日共, etc. Thus, it is not entirely unreasonable (at least syntactically rather than contextually) for Bing to parse "阿共" as an abbreviation for the Albanian (A'erba'niya 阿爾巴尼亞) Communist Party.

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