Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shanghai as a Simpleton

I dreamed that Shanghai was a simpleton

Who ate glass bottles,

And picked the shards out

From his teeth with a rusty coathanger.


Though many said he would die

From hemorrhaging or tetanus

Coughing his last breaths

In pools of blood and vomit,

He came into his own all too well.


His breath full of fire,

He spat diamonds.

And when he spoke,

The people listened.

posted by ferret at 3:32 pm  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Words: Stevedore and Omnific



posted by ferret at 6:53 pm  

Friday, June 11, 2010

It’s a Qingdao in any language, right?

I saw the following two ads on the subway in Shanghai (I apologize for the poor photography):

The ads were interesting for two reasons. First, the prominence of English in the advertisements was clearly directed at a very particular market, foreigners in Shanghai. I guess Qingdao has finally reconciled itself as the “beer of expats.” Second, the relationship between the message given in English and Chinese was markedly different.

Here’s the Chinese from the first ad:

The Chinese loosely translates: “In China, if you’re late drink three glasses [of beer]. The punishment is a form of politeness; The taste is a form of refreshment.”

The commentary on the custom in the Chinese is conspicuously absent from the English version.

Rewritten: 在中国喝酒,会说“青岛啤酒”,可能比会说“你好”更重要

The Chinese loosely translates: “When going out for drinks in China, being able to say “Qingdao Beer” could be more important than being able to say “hello.”

Here the Chinese emphasizes the importance of “Qingdao Beer,” instead of suggesting how much fun it is to learn to say “Qingdao Beer” in Chinese.

In English the ads target a market seen as wanting to learn Chinese and improve understanding of Chinese culture. In Chinese, the ads target a market where it is trying justify itself as a brand important in social interactions, especially interactions with those who might find “青岛啤酒“ more important than “你好”.

posted by ferret at 6:53 pm  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

False Start #44

I laugh at anyone who says the age of kings is over.

What man doesn’t want to be a king? What woman doesn’t want to be a queen?

This is the basis of our age; the madness that binds us.

The vision that everyone should live like a king, that everyone can live like a king.

posted by ferret at 4:47 pm  

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hey, good looking

[Ferret is sitting at a take-out burrito joint, enjoying a meal at the small counter for patrons who just can’t wait to take their food home. Two Chinese Girls walk in, chattering. They walk up to the Waitress and order.]

Chinese Girl #1






Chinese Girl #1


We want to buy the yogurt with honey. How much is it?



Eight kuai a cup.

Chinese Girl #1


Okay, two cups.

[The Waitress walks over the the refrigerator and takes out two cups, which she then begins to fill with honey. The Chinese Girls begin to talk quickly, and Ferret loses interest as the conversation exceeds his concentration and understanding. Something about school. He figures they probably go to the music college nearby. Due to hunger and the deliciousness of the burrito, he loses himself eating. He lets out a cough while clearing his throat. The Chinese Girls stop talking and notice him sitting there for the first time. Chinese Girl #1 and Ferret exchange a glance. Ferret returns to eating his burrito.]

Chinese Girl #1

[to Chinese Girl #2]


He’s good looking.



You think so?

[There is dead silence. The Chinese Girls give Ferret a look as if he’s made disparaging remarks about a relative. The Waitress is silent, too. Awkwardness floods the room. Ferret has no idea what to do to alleviate the situation.]



Excuse me.

Chinese Girl #1

[turning her back to Ferret, towards Chinese Girl #2, whispering:]


He can speak [Chinese].

posted by ferret at 7:53 pm  

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