(Emphases theirs.) “恩” actually means grace, kindness, favour… For us it’s strongly associated with Chinese church stuff, and Chinese Christians use it in their kids’ names. So seemed kind of funny (and unintentionally ironic?) that the Party would employ the same usage; switch out “Party” for “the Lord” and it’s basically a hymn (and some quick searches for 颂主恩 did turn upsome church songs). But here it’s connected to the slogan’s poetic motif, not intentionally imitating church language.
Anyone remember when hymnals used to have American patriotic songs in the back?But traffic is bad…
For several months, Qingdao has been flooded with propaganda posters and billboards relating to the ongoing “sanitation” 卫生 campaign, encompassing everything from tidying up (or clearing off) street markets and sidewalk BBQs to promoting food safety and healthy eating habits.
But here’s one new anti-gendercide poster from our neighbourhood bulletin board that I hadn’t seen before today, from the “Qingdao City Sanitation, Harmoniousness and Family Planning Committee” (text and overly-literal translation below):
Zònghé zhìlǐ chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ huá fù zhī gēn Comprehensively managing the birth population sex ratio is the ROOT of China’s restoration.
chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ shì guānyú zhōnghuá mínzú fányǎn shēngxī, shèngshuāi xìng bài dàshì Birth population sex ratio concerns the Chinese people’s propagation; it’s a matter of prosperity or decline, flourishing or withering.
Chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ, shì zhǐ yīdìng dìyù rénkǒu mǒu yī shíqí (tōngcháng yī nián) nèi chūshēng de nán yīng zǒngshù yǔ nǚ yīng zǒng shǔ de bǐzhí, yòng 100 míng chūshēng nǚ yīng shù xiāng duìyìng de chūshēng nán yīng shù biǎoshì. Zhèngcháng fànwéi shì měi chūshēng 100 míng nǚ yīng, nán yīng chūshēng shù zài 103-107 míng zhī jiān. Birth population sex ratio refers to the population ratio of total male babies born to total female babies born within a certain time period (usually one year), and is expressed using the figure of 100 female babies born to correspond to the number of male babies born. The normal range is within 103-107 male babies born for every 100 female babies born.
Rúguǒ chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ chíxù chāochū zhèngcháng bǐ liè fànwéi, jiāng dǎozhì rénkǒu xìngbié jiégòu shīhéng, duì jiānglái de hūnyīn hé jiātíng xíngchéng chōngjí, jìn’ér yǐngxiǎng shèhuì wěndìng yǔ héxié. If the birth population sex ratio continues to exceed normal parameters, this will lead to population sex composition unbalance, seriously affecting the future formation of marriage and family, and from that influence social stability and harmoniousness.
zhuǎnbiàn jiù de shēngyù guānniàn, ràng quán shèhuì bù zài yǒu xìngbié qíshì Transform the old childbearing notions, make the whole society no longer have gender discrimination.
Qīngdǎo shì wèishēng héxié jìhuà shēngyù wěiyuánhuì Qingdao City Health, Harmoniousness and Family Planning Committee
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The background of the poster has an iconic Qingdao landmark (May 4th Square) and the Chinese character 女 in various styles.
Books like Leftover Women: the Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China by Leta Hong Fincher demonstrate that social stability is the government’s priority, and authorities willingly exacerbate gender inequality in pursuit of that goal, particularly through the promotion of the “leftover women” concept, which is designed to push “high-quality” women out of the workplace and into the nursery. From their perspective, skewed gender ratios and a large population of hopeless bachelors threaten social stability; gender inequality per se, not so much.
Reporters asked the company why it had chosen to advertise its eyeglasses with the world’s most famous blind person. The company replied that Chinese schools teach the story of Helen Keller primarily as an icon of fortitude, and sure enough, sales of the frames were brisk. Helen Keller glasses were selling under the slogan “You see the world, and the world sees you.”
Prepare to flinch. This ‘Rent-a-Foreigner’ 7-minute opinion-documentary from the New York Times may seem unbelievable, but as someone once said: April Fool’s Day is really hard in China because so much is so plausible. And I’m telling you as someone who’s lived in 2nd and 3rd-tier Chinese cities for six years: they aren’t making this stuff up.
Mainland Chinese have this incredible capacity, on occasion, to tell it straight, to just name a thing or situation for what it is:
The real value of a house or any product doesn’t really matter. As long as there is a good image, people will be willing to buy. For the time being, the image has become the reality.
It’s painful, but oddly refreshing — like picking off a big scab that you should have left alone when you were in elementary school.
I can’t embed the video so you’ll have to click here. My favourite bits are the dialogue with a potential client at 1:53:
“We have high-, middle- and low-grade ones. Now it is true that the price of white people is expensive, but it makes the place feel classier. If you truly can’t squeeze out the funds but still want to project an international atmosphere, I suggest using black people. They have a very open personality, yet are quite cheap.”
“Do you have any Indians?”
“We would need to look for them… we use them very rarely.”
“If we use them would they be cheaper?”
“About the same as blacks.”
And then the woman’s glance at 6:14 — I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
You might wonder: Who are these white boy expats doing these “jobs”? The expat scene is China is kind of… special, especially among the “English teacher” crowd. I’m not saying all English teachers are… a certain way… but I’ve certainly met a few who fit the stereotype. And sometimes, the line between being an “English teacher” and being a “rent-a-foreigner” is very difficult to find.
In the same vein is Mamahuhu’s Being Black in China (Youku / YouTube):
To find out what “democracy is a belief” is maybe intended to mean, and how Chinese communists have the gall to promote “rule of law” and “democracy”, see Joann Pittman’s In Democracy We Trust. (She blogs faster than me, and beat me to the punch with the Princess Bride video.)
It’s only February, but here’s my submission for Chinglish of the Year — Shangdong Art Institute Media College students’ “I Speak for Socialist Core Values” posters. Click each Chinese word to view its poster, mouseover for pronunciation:
I hope it’s abundantly clear that in Chinese Communist Party-land, these words — freedom, democracy, rule of law — don’t mean the same thing that they do in the West. It has nothing to do with Chinglish or mistranslation; they’re using different definitions.
Below are two current propaganda posters from our neighbourhood bulletin boards. Mouseover the Chinese for translation and pronunciation:
社会主义核心价值观 社会主义核心价值观是当代中国价值追求的精神之纲 Socialism Core Values
Socialism Core Values are the guiding principle of the spirit that contemporary Chinese values are seeking.