It’s Art… Don’t Rely on it 「倚靠」跟「依賴」


As I was wandering through the Takashi Ohta Paper Museum Expo (being held at Huashan Creative Park Dec 19- Feb 29) I did a double take, when I saw this sign above many of the pieces of art:

12660271_10102331381795969_290275658_n Although I’ve tired slightly of all but the most bizarre Chinglish signage, I thought this one was of note because it can be read as a covert injunction to aspiring paper artists everywhere – “Don’t rely on this kind of work, man.”

To be fair to the Chinglish offender in question, the word 「倚靠」(yi3kao4/ㄧˇ ㄎㄠˋ) in Chinese can mean both “to lean on” and “to rely on”, in the same sense as in English, “leaning on someone” can be extended to mean “relying on someone” (依賴 yi1lai4/ㄧ ㄌㄞˋ). Having had dealings with the kind of people who run these events in Taiwan, I also know that they have about a billion things to do and very little time and money to do them, so we can’t be too hard on them, and where would we be without something to snigger at.

The exhibition was quite cool, I’ll limit myself to posting the scene from Ximen in Taiwan:


Photo taken at exhibition, will remove on request

The rest you’ll have to explore for yourselves.

Awkwardly Phrased Passive Aggressive Note


此處 禁止
Dear neighbours,
In this place it is forbidden
When walking a dog, for the dog
To shit anywhere here
~Thanks for your attention

The text I’ve marked in bold (thinner characters on the note in the photo) as if it was added on later, which suggests the person who wrote it was inadvertently accusing his or her neighbours of having a sneaky No. 2 in the alley while walking their dogs before realizing their mistake. They do not seem to have been arsed to redo the whole thing after putting a bit of effort into the ornate characters only to realize their mistake, which resulted in the sign being posted with rather odd grammatical structures. The “此處” (this place) makes the “在此” (here) a little unnecessary and the juxtaposition of “在此” (here) and “隨地” (anyplace/wherever one pleases) is a little odd too, as if the author thought that people might not realize that “anyplace” is inclusive of “here”.

There’s also a pseudo-typo, in that 「遛狗」 is the more accepted way of saying “to walk a dog”, as opposed to the 「蹓狗」 written here. The character 「蹓」 comes from 「蹓躂」, a variant of 「遛達」 meaning to stroll, or to walk. Technically 「蹓」 can be seen as a variant, but doesn’t seem to be accepted as correct. When you type 「蹓狗」 into Google for example, you get the following prompt:


The search results that are currently displayed are from: 「遛狗」

You can change back to search for: 「蹓狗」

「遛狗」 fetches 1,060,000 results, whereas 「蹓狗」 only fetches 181,000, which suggests it’s not in standard use. I think these little idiosyncrasies are what make handwritten notes like this so interesting, as they inadvertently reveal certain characteristics of their authors.

After receiving some complaints about my previous post being more “openly aggressive” rather than “passive aggressive”, I think the 「新愛的 (scatological) 鄰居」 line makes this more of a passive aggressive post.

Let me know if you see any passive aggressive (or openly aggressive) notes in your area and feel free to submit anything you want featured!



Comfort Women and Post Election Thoughts

Spotted this sign recently just beside the Zhongzheng Bridge between Yonghe and Taipei:


It reads:

The Japanese government should apologize and provide reparations for coercing comfort women during World War II

Created by Wei-Shyue Chang

The subtext of this sign is the recent Taiwanese history textbook controversy over proposed changes to the high school curriculum which pushed for a (slightly) less rosy view of the period of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, including using the term coercion when it came to the comfort women issue, Continue reading