Concoction and elaboration

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Notice in a men's room at National Central University (NCU) in Taoyuan, Taiwan:


First of all, let me say that I don't believe this notice gives a true account of something that really happened at NCU, namely, that the male students were peeing upward toward the ceiling.  Below I'll explain what I think really happened.

Here are the romanization, transcription, and translation of the text:

Zhòngyào gōnggào 
cháo tiānhuābǎn pēnsǎ niàoyè 
shì wéifǎn Guólì Zhōngyāng Dàxué xuézé de xíngwéi 
běnxiào cǎiyòng zhī tiānhuābǎn bìngfēi wéi xīshōu niàoyè suǒ shèjì! 
mùqián shènrù de dàliàng shuǐfèn jí yánfèn zǎoyǐ bǎohé bìng jiāng kāishǐ dīluò. 
hòuxù gēnghuàn jí wéihù de fèiyòng zhīchū jiàng fǎnyìng zài gèwèi tóngxué xià xuéqí de xué záfèi zhōng. 
rúcè shí qǐng duìzhǔn xiǎobiàn dòu bìng jǐnjì NCU sānzì kǒujué
kàojìn xiǎobiàn dòu –> quèrèn bù huì pēn dào tiānhuābǎn –> rúcè
rú yǒu yíwèn qǐng zhìdiàn 03-4227151, xièxiè gèwèi tóngxué de pèihé
Guólì zhōngyāng dàxué

靠近小便斗 –> 確認不會噴到天花板 –> 如廁
如有疑問請致電 03-4227151謝謝各位同學的配合

Important Public Notice
Spraying your urine towards the ceiling
is against the rules of the National Central University!
The ceiling (material) that this university utilizes is NOT designed for absorbing urine!
Presently, the immense amount of water and salt has already saturated (the ceiling) and is beginning to drip down from it.
The subsequent replacement and maintenance fees will be reflected in each of your tuition and fees next semester.
When you go to the toilet, please aim at the urinal and be careful to remember the "NCU" triliteral formula:
Near –> Check –> Urinate.
(Near the urinal –> Check to make sure not to spray (your urine) against the ceiling –> Urinate)

I don't think this was spontaneous, that the boys at NCU just thought it up in their own devious minds to urinate upwards en masse.  It turns out that urinating on the ceiling is actually a thing, a thing that is mentioned and depicted on Reddit, YouTube, and other websites, and it's been out there for at least five years (for examples of this disgusting, degraded behavior [and worse], see here).

In the infinite surfing of the web that university students are addicted to, sooner or later they are bound to happen upon just about everything that exists in the cyberverse, and some of them will give it a try.

Undoubtedly, the genesis of the notice on the bathroom wall at NCU was due to men using the urinals and not being careful about where they aimed (a topic of many a post on Language Log [see selected readings below]).  This is a universal problem, not just for Taiwan!

One or two of the male students may have tried out the "ceiling" thing — perhaps on a dare from another student.  This, coupled with the perennial problem of the custodial staff with sloppy, flagrant pissers (the Manneken Pis syndrome), led some frustrated humorist on the administrative staff to exaggerate what was truly going on in the men's room.

When I first read this notice in Chinese, I thought it was so improbable and ridiculous that some AI machine created this text at the request of a deviant client.  Upon research and reflection, I came to the conclusion that SLMs (i.e., Small Language Models [human beings — my nonce definition]) could come up with such freakish scenarios by themselves.

Selected readings


  1. thunkii said,

    March 5, 2024 @ 10:18 pm

    This reminds me of the Big Bill Hell's parody ads, where the narrator proclaims 'If you can piss six feet in the air without getting wet, you get no down payment!'

  2. KeithB said,

    March 6, 2024 @ 9:22 am

    I wonder if NCU wants Near.Check. Urinate. to be the new slogan or fight song.

    What is a "trilateral formula"?

  3. David Marjanović said,

    March 6, 2024 @ 9:35 am

    the new slogan or fight song

    Are university sports teams a thing in Taiwan? I'm not aware of any outside the US.

  4. David Marjanović said,

    March 6, 2024 @ 9:37 am

    What is a "trilateral formula"?

    The post quite correctly says "triliteral formula", a formula of three letters.

    (Early Classical Latin lītera > Late Classical Latin littera > French lettre)

  5. Terry Hunt said,

    March 6, 2024 @ 3:44 pm

    From my reading, listening and direct experience, competing for how high one can piss up a wall has been a thing in British male culture for approaching a century if not longer. Usually, however, it was (is?) conducted outdoors in a convenient alleyway, or in the countryside.

  6. David Morris said,

    March 6, 2024 @ 8:50 pm

    Is that even possible? My primary school days are too long ago? We got to about 45 degrees above horizontal and even that didn't reach head-height.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    March 7, 2024 @ 10:02 am

    Some people here claim to have reached quite impressive heights …

  8. David Morris said,

    March 8, 2024 @ 2:22 am

    I may or may not have experimented in the shower and may or may not have got no higher than my navel, about 15 cm (or not).

  9. Stephen l said,

    March 22, 2024 @ 5:52 am

    A friend of mine was once outside and drunk with friends and had a competition who could pee the highest against a wall. He climbed up on top of the wall and peed over it from there, claiming victory.

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