sign watching browsing by tag


The Shanghai Mounted Police

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

My anonymous friend N. has sent in this picture recently taken in an underground station in Shanghai Xuhui. It is a poster depicting a (Kazakh?) horseman riding with a baby just at the moment when a Shanghai policeman has engaged him in a vicious exchange of toothiness.

Government slogans are some of the phrases that I find most difficult to translate from Chinese, perhaps because they don’t usually make sense.  Anyway, here is my take:  “Policemen harmoniously build peace”. And the three sub-slogans on top:  “Penetrate the bases”,  “Penetrate reality”, “Penetrate the masses”.

Police PR campaign

Yeah, said like this, it sounds like something out of 1984, but that’s only if you are not used to Chinese government slogans. This is a PR campaign that has been done many times before in China. The objective is to show the police close to the people, as explained in this old article in the Xuhui district website.

We already saw some similar campaigns in late 2008, and more are sure to come this year, as the government takes every possible measure to avert risks of instability.

On the other hand, I am not sure how necessary this is. From my own observations, policemen here don’t have the bad image they have in some places in the West. They tend to be quite humble, they rarely use violence, and they get yelled at by the citizens they are supposed to protect. More than once I’ve had them visit my house at midnight, just to shyly ask us to please turn down the music and try to not let more people in if we don’t mind.

So  I have to say that, at least in Shanghai, the government has done a good job of managing police PR. Even I find it hard to believe that it is this same 公安 (police)  who arrests activists and bloggers,  the same who kicks villagers out of their old houses marked for destruction.

UPDATE: Those that see the glass half full

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Oh, thank you, thank you Xinhua and thank you editor Yan.


Thank you for adding now pictures to your yesterday’s article :  China’s “scientific development” works to counter economic downturn. And thank you for choosing the most beautiful of the slides you published last week, the one which I call:  “La vie en rosy

Now it has the completeness I was looking for. I will keep your article for further reference in my database of Crisis Commentary, and I will look at your slide every time that Shanghai weather makes me feel down.

Chinglish, Signese, Signology?

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Wow, there’s been some activity around here this week. For the first time, the old eyeballs are sore from the limelight in my screen, and I long to get back my status of internet chopped liver.

But no worries, I think I know just how to do that:


Make up your mind: N.1 or N.2?

Everybody knows that serious China bloggers don’t do Chinglish. That’s for newbies, and we are past the “mamma, look what I got” stage. But before you leave, take a look at this a pic I took yesterday on my way to Ningbo . It is now part of my new classified collection of Signology. And there’s more here than meets the eye. Click to continue »

The Rules of the Green Administration

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This is a bit of a silly post, I know, and I’m sure it has been done before. But I had to do it anyway. Yesterday I finally remembered to take a picture of my favourite sign in Shanghai, the Rules of the Green Administration Bureau.

It is the one that prohibits feudal behaviours, expects visitors not to shit, strictly bins comping, gawbling and gombing, and generally limits, with a rich variety of forbidding synonyms - existing or invented-  all the favourite Sunday activities of us mental patients escaped from custody.


You can still find these signs in most parks, even in central locations like People’s Square. Note they are collectable items, each park provididing a new variation on the theme with different combinations of letters. They will probably dissapear sometime in the next 500 days of Expo countdown, so let this be a last tribute.

And since we are at it, I will post some more of the great sign watching session we had yesterday in Luxun Park. This park is absolutely recommended for a Sunday stroll, it contains one of the highest concentrations of culture and local life in the city. It sparkles like pearls from Heaven. Really Splendid.


Around the center of the park there is a little house which, on one of its four sides, has been decorated to look like a romantic Greek Villa. It is a haven of romantic notions.


And one can’t help but wonder: what would nearby poet Petofi have to say of all this?


But you need not worry. If you didn’t like the poem, there are many more to be read on the Greek corner at Luxun. My favourite is the one below: “Romantic Person”. And the best of all is: It is served Daily!


And now, here’s the riddle of the day. The first one to guess it will win an exclusive 6 month VIP membership to Chinayouren:  Name the original greek myth that inspired the poem “Romantic Person”. (No cheating with google!)

Leave your answer below.

Fujian in just 5 Words

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Here is the illustrated report of our Fujian trip. Today I present some clear symptoms of blogorrhea after my 5 day internet abstinence. So we’ll try to keep it ruly and live up to my Bull Year’s resolutions. I am applying the special astringent potion: Max 5 words per picture. The rest in your imagination: 一切尽在不言中.

Every village had a church

热闹 means Hot and Noisy!

The temples were 热闹

The faithful like burning stuff

The mosque was less 热闹

Love Church was not 热闹

Beach of the Grande Jatte

No! Muslims don’t eat porc

We met an electric fisherman

Administration + Participation = Administpation

Hate those noisy cracker vandals

Shooting and Bumpers: Safety first

Ming Walled Chongwu is Magnetic

Let’s get chicken at EFC’s!

No! my chicken at CBC’s!

Ah, finally: it’s a KFC’s!

Macdonalds + Kentucky’s = Mac-Ken-Ji’s !!

Mac-Ken-Ji’s: Children’s playground, Grandpa’s shrine

Fairy houses made of seashells

发展 wave engulfs the past

Model Street Award: Zero Imitations


My polos always at Coddle’s

Model Workers Instruction: Model Street

Google is Drifting

Friday, December 12th, 2008

It is Friday. It’s a beautiful, beautiful day. I’m in an excellent mood this morning, pondering the unexpected turns of Fate and Fortune.

I mean, take the weather in Shanghai, for example. Did you ever imagine we would see these long weeks of clean blue skies? You lose faith in things and then they happen, and it makes you dream. If this is possible, then everything else must be: World Peace, End of Poverty, China winning the soccer World Cup.

On Fridays like this my mind drifts on the world wide web and I end up reading funny bits of information, like this delicious “boat drifting skills” I found over at the Engrish website. I saw it and laughed for a bit, and then I read the comments and I thought I might do something useful for the community.

So I went on Google Translator and I asked it to translate the drifting instructions into English. This is the disappointing message I got:

What! No translation English-English? What kind of service is this? And who said that it was English in the first place?  If there is someone at Google reading this now (other than my friends the bots) please raise the issue immediately to your management:

“You are missing out on the largest market in the World. Develop Chinglish translator ASAP!”

Chinglish is dead, long live Spanish?

Monday, December 8th, 2008

One more from the Bridge Blogger:

Lately I have received by email these pictures that are widely circulating on the Spanish speaking internet. They apparently originated in Colombia, so they are referred by some as Colombianadas.

Colombianadas are the Latin American equivalent of Chinglish: signs and other pieces of writing with a twist of unintended humour. What makes Colombianadas even more amazing is that they are written by people using their own mother tongue!

Chinese toilet keepers and sign translators: you better get moving fast,  watch more Marx brothers movies or revert to using older dictionaries. A whole new continent of talent is on the rise, and your monopoly of world sign humour is going to be seriously challenged.

Someone needs to open a website urgently to collect these gems:

Sexshop and Seafood / Ladies with O please do not use swimming pool / No urinating, fine: machete/ Cold ice available / We paint houses, home delivery service/ Carrefour Supermarket