Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clunky Puns

Ah, Taipei district elections.

The Chinese language has a proud history of puns - word play is considered one of the highest forms of comedy and wit, and while I question any "wit" that's based on a pun, since it's more difficult to pun effectively in Chinese (at least for me), I can sort of almost be OK with it. I will even do it sometimes, to which those who have heard my "下很大!" joke on rainy days can attest.

Well, as a friend of mine noted, Presidential candidates have the money for professional staff to come up with their witty lines and groan-worthy puns - that's how we got "馬上改善經濟“ (actually not sure it said "gai shan" - it was years ago during the Ma/Xie election). It means "Immediately improve the economy". For those who don't speak Chinese, "Immediately" is "馬上", which also means "on the horse", and now-President Ma's name is the same "Ma" as "horse". And of course those ads had pictures of President Horse riding...a horse. Ha ha. Oh, you slay me. (Ba-dum ching!)

District candidates...don't have that money. As you can see here:

We've been kind of following the Zhongshan-Datong election because we have a friend who lives in that area, and we haven't seen much happening in Jingmei. The fight seems to be between Yeh Lin-chuan, the KMT candidate above with a penchant for the color scheme of a Pretty Pretty Princess dollhouse, and one A-Yu, whose last name is not that important.

(I do love the super-feminine Yeh Linchuan poster on the ubiquitous blue truck with the ubiquitous undershirt wearing dude driving it).

I originally mistranslated this poster as "(Yeh Lin) Chuan comes out to love" because, as many of you know, I am capable of heroically misusing the "把" construction. I was corrected: his name is used as a pun here. The "chuan" of "Linchuan" is added to the phrase to say "Take the love and send it out".

Aww. Peace, man. Love yer scrolling purple characters. I think you should add a few more flowers, though.

Then there's A-Yu, who, instead of the usual tissues or notepads (I still have my "Ma and Siew" notepad. I drew devil horns on Ma and have him saying "I love China!") has been giving out face masks:

A-Yu's name (餘) is basically the same as pronunciation as 魚 for "fish", so the little card says "With one fish, eat three times" and three reasons why you should vote for him (the usual stuff, like he'll help bring development, he'll speak for you in city government etc.). Under that it says "Plus, get a side dish: Twenty years of experience!" - though that seems to be referencing some other guy also on the ad.

Sigh. I mean, it's cute & all, and Americans do it too, even if our candidates don't do it themselves ("Obama-rama" or "That's my Bush!" anyone?). But I feel like you either need to be truly witty or hire someone who is, or you get kind of clunky puns like the ones above.

(BTW, simply because I lean green with a dash of brown, I'd vote for A-Yu if I could vote here).

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