I went to the China Art Gallery at the weekend. There were some pretty pictures there.
Between the gallery and dinner, I managed to get a few photos of something I’ve seen quite often before, but never with my camera handy. It’s one of the few things I could sit and watch all day. Basically, you get a bunch of old Chinese men, some massive brushes (I thought they were mops first time I saw them), some water and a pavement. And then you watch them write Chinese calligraphy on the pavement, in big watery characters.
I like this for a number of reasons. One is that old Chinese people are cool, and have a never ending variety of ways to amuse themselves outside. There’s also something I like about the simplicity of it. Brush, water, pavement. I especially like the special brushes they sometimes have, where you screw a bottle of water into the top, and the water gurgles its way down to the brush proper. It’s also beautiful – calligraphy’s pretty to look at anyway, but when you get the old guy walking backwards, tracing new characters onto the paving stones as the ones he did 10 minutes ago evaporate off into the air 6 feet away. Ephemeral.
I wonder how the physics of this work in winter. Maybe they use thermos flasks. . .
When I studied at university I read a bit about theories of hostage negotiation (I read quite a lot of other stuff that wasn’t actually on the reading lists, and none of that turned up in exams either), and I found this article on Chinese first batch of trained hostage negotiators and the man doing the training interesting.
The difference between ‘Chinese style negotiations’ (中国式谈判) seems to stem from the nature of ‘Chinese style hostage situations’ (中国式人质事件) . Knives are the weapons of choice, and this allows ‘close-up negotiation’ (近距离谈判) – according to the article, an American negotiator will be 2km away from the hardened hostage-taker and his AK47, while his Chinese counterpart will be only a few meters away from the young, uneducated guy from the countryside who’s fallen on hard times in the big city and his blade. This leads to a greater focus on body language and facial expression rather than purely verbal communication.
The article’s advice for the hostage is worth noting – keep your mouth shut. It’s always the mouthy folks that get done away with first (话语多者往往最先被杀死).
From the top left, going clockwise.
1) 这根竹子不错， 有滋味有嚼头 还不塞牙， 俺很喜欢
Zhè gēn zhúzi bùcuò， yǒu zīwèi yǒu jiáotou， hái bù sāiyá， ǎn hěn xǐhuan
This bamboo’s great, it’s got flavour and it’s tasty, and it doesn’t get stuck between your teeth. I like it.
Wǒ cool ma？ méiyǒu yǎn dài ma？
Am I cool? Any bags under my eyes?
Yǒu shuí dài zhǐjīn ma？
Has anyone got a tissue? (Kleenex, of course, translate ’tissue’ as ‘Kleenex’)
and finally and favouritely
4)这就叫‘个性‘，我特意把头发弄成白色的， 怎么样， 够朋克吧？
Zhè jiù jiào ‘gèxìng‘，wǒ tèyì bǎ tóufa nòngchéng báisè de， zěnmeyàng？ gòu péngkè ba？
Now this is ‘style’ – I dyed my hair white, what do you think. Punk enough for you?
I’m not too sure about the translation of the last one, particularly the bit about dyed hair, as 特意 just didn’t make it into the translation, and 弄成 and dyed aren’t the same thing. Still pretty punk though . . .
The image is from one of those free postcard / ad things you find round and about. I hereby promise to stamp, address and post the postcard to anyone who can come up with the best alternative translation to my above efforts . . .
Advertisers are always going to inflate their products ability a little bit. I’ve seen TV spots for some kind of growth formula which claimed to be able to add 6 inches to the spine of any tiny teenager, and drunk green tea that cured radiation sickness (which, to be fair, I haven’t yet suffered from.)
You’d expect manufacturers to stick within the expected limits of their products though. Instant noodles – taste good. Pens – write smoothly. Cars – keep you comfortable when stuck in traffic jams.
So how to build up Maotai, China’s top brand of baijiu? Tastes good? A smooth and sophisticated fragrance? Leaves the glasses cleaner than when you poured it in, and possibly thinner too? No. They decided to claim it protects the liver. A product consisting mainly of pure alcohol and a nice bottle. Protects the liver.
The best bit is, somebody felt it necessary to disprove this.
The research group selected 56 male rats, divided them randomly into 7 groups and carried out a stomach-pouring experiment. Of these, 5 groups were given either Maotai, XO . . .
Happiest rats in China, though it didn’t do their liver any good. Article is here, and it does actually make some real points about fake academic results being used in advertising to go along with the images of drunk rats.
I’ve just converted the wordpress system for 出语不俗 to Chinese. It was very easy, the only problem was that the instructions I found online made it sound more complicated that it was, and tells you a lot about the localization process which basically you don’t need to know. So . . .
1) Get the zh_CN.mo file from the incredibly helpful Chinese WordPress folk. Unzip it.
2) Create a ‘languages’ directory in the wp-includes directory, and upload the .mo file there.
3) In your wp-config file, change define (‘WPLANG’, ”); to define (‘WPLANG’, ‘zh_CN’);
4) Sit back and be amazed at how easy it was
The only problem is that I couldn’t figure out how to edit the .mo file – whatever I try to open it with, it comes out as garbage, but if you have a look at the WordPress Localization page you should be able to figure it out. You would only need to edit it if you’ve customized things.
Breakfast, 2Y from the breakfast-selling lady down the street.