December’s propaganda

Not all propaganda is bad; here I’m using the word in a more redeemable sense. Full marks to the guy responsible for this:

Now, you might be wondering what the big deal is. You might also be wondering why that sign has picture of a beer bottle and two bleeding wine glasses attacking a car. Tianjin has a lot of bizarre traffic signs, but this one is actually a small stroke of genius.

Behold, at right, the Chinese character for alcohol, pronounced: “jiǔ.” And now, take closer look at the picture on that street sign:

It says:

严禁酒后驾车
yán jìn jiǔ hòu jià chē
“Strictly Prohibited: Driving vehicles after alcohol”

Geniuses. And you, along with thousands of other illiterate lǎo wài, thought it was just a weird-looking street sign. Of course, I did, too, until we made to the Ordering Food lesson.

5 thoughts on “December’s propaganda”

  1. haha, brilliant. :)

    but ditto on the word propaganda as well, in the “West” we see communist and dictatorial connotations but actually propaganda is not necessarily a bad word, it means spreading out a message/information. now, what the information is, and who is spreading it well, thats a different story altogether.

  2. Hi,

    I found your blog from someone else’s. My son is about to take a course so he can come to China and teach English in the spring. Is this what you are doing? I’d love to know how your experience is. (I guess I should just start reading your blog huh?)

    So nice to meet you!

    God bless

  3. ha, i agree. although on second thought, this particular sign may have potential to backfire on account of word association: “Car, alcohol… Car, alcohol… Car, alcohol… Car, alcohol… Hey, I’m in the car, where’s the alcohol?”

  4. Wow. You gotta give it to ’em. You just can’t doing anything of this caliber of genius with the 5000 or so languages that aren’t pictographic. Gotta appreciate that no matter how much you wish they’d go to some phonetic writing system.

  5. There are people out there arguing that Chinese should do away with characters… I’m not sure, but the pinyin.info guy may be one of them. I’ve never thought about the possibility, but with all the homonyms, i think it’d be pretty hard. I mean, in class, I find it easier to understand the meaning of a sentence written is characters than a sentence written in pinyin (given that I’m familiar with all the words involved).

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