The curious case of 「開嘜」

I was at my bus stop this morning when I saw this sign on a shop that pricked my curiosity:

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The first bit is the classic shaven ice dish that’s very popular in Taiwan 「剉冰」(Mandarin cuo4bing1), almost always referred to by its Taiwanese pronunciation: chhoah冰

(Side note, you should definitely try this place if you want some pretty stylized shaven ice – 路地 氷の怪物 (Street Ice Monsters) – there are two in Taichung and one in Taipei)

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)

Anyway, it was the second two characters that intrigued me more: 「開嘜」.

Looking online I found several examples of its usage, but they all seemed to point to a different meaning, referring to starting filming or broadcasting. One of my friends suggested that 「嘜」 is short for 「麥克風」, a borrowing from the English microphone, with an additional mouth radical to emphasize the difference from the original meaning of 「麥」, “wheat”. So in this sense it would be something similar to where the director shouts “rolling” on a film shoot, referring to when the sound starts getting recorded.

This meaning is suggested by the Executive Yuan’s Youtube channel, titled 「行政院開麥啦」 (notice the 口 in front of 麥 isn’t included), translating roughly to “The Executive Yuan start broadcasting”.

Likewise with this article on the broadcasting of judicial proceedings: 「司法,開嘜啦!」.

This doesn’t really help us with the sign at the bus stop, however, and it’s most likely that the character 「嘜」 `(mai4 ㄇㄞˋ) is just standing in for its homonym 「賣」(mai4 ㄇㄞˋ), although I’m not exactly sure why. It could just be to attract attention or for comedic effect. If anyone has a better suggestion, feel free to put it out there in the comments section.

 

Flowery Wordplay 「我想要兩朵花」

My manager at work brought me back a little souvenir from her holiday in Singapore – a coin purse with a joke on it:

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The joke plays on the two meanings of 「花」 which means “flower” when used as a noun and “to spend” when used as a verb. As Singapore uses simplified characters, you’ll notice the characters are all in simplified form:

我想要两朵花:
有钱花,随便花!

This literally translates to

“I want two flowers: to have money to spend, and to be able to spend it however I want!”

So 「有銭花」 and 「随便花」 are jokingly posited as the two kinds of flowers referred to in the first sentence, while they actually mean “having money to spend” and “being able to spend it how one likes”.

Everyday Variants: 垃圾「乱」丟

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I walked past this sign the other day near Dingxi MRT station and was reminded of how often Taiwanese people use simpler variants of some characters when writing some of the more complex Chinese characters, many of which were adopted in China as the standard simplified version of the character:

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It reads:

乱丟

6千元

袋子不行丟到裡面

Dumping rubbish
[Incurs a] fine [of]
NT$6000

It’s not OK to throw bags inside

Here 「亂」, meaning here “carelessly” or “against the rules”, is written using the variant 「乱」, which is identical to its simplified form.

This variant form is listed in the MOE’s Variant dictionary:

001

Church Leaflet Fancy Talk:「纔」vs 「才」

I got this leaflet through the letterbox the other night (the people called up to ask if they could put it inside) from a group called “The Church in Taipei”.

RealTRUTH

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Leaflet from The Church in Taipei (highlights mine)

Although the content of the leaflet was largely unremarkable (we will help you find meaning for your life/true freedom), a few things about it did catch my eye.

The first was a detail of the story:

一個在美國讀過小學,隨父母回來臺灣的小孩,直吵着要回美國。問他爲甚麼,他振振有辭的說,『因爲美國的學生比較自由阿!』這是小孩所要的自由-不用穿制服,不用背書包,不用讀太多書,也不必被體罰!

A child who had gone to elementary school in the US and returned to Taiwan with their parents was going on and on asking to go back to the US. When you asked him why, he said precociously “Because American students have more freedom!”. This is freedom for a child – not having to wear a uniform, not having to carry a schoolbag, not having to read too many books  and not having to undergo corporal punishment.

Leaving aside the suggestion that American kids don’t have to read or carry school bags, I thought it interesting that the author was unaware that corporal punishment is illegal in Taiwan.

The other aspect of the leaflet that I found interesting was the choice of characters, which suggested the author wasn’t using the most common input system Zhuyin (Bopomofo), and that they were trying to some extent to sound authoritative through the use of more traditional variants. Some can be, perhaps, be ascribed to font choices, but I’m inclined to believe it is more of a stylistic choice. Examples are as below:

爲 vs 為

「爲」 is used in all cases in the leaflet above, rather than the more commonly seen 「為」, including together with the more  formal 「甚麼」 in place of 「什麼」. If you’re typing in zhuyin you have to scroll to access the character 「爲」 whereas 為 will come out in combination with 什麼 and 甚麼 automatically:

wei

Perhaps the author uses Cangjie or Sucheng, more popular input methods among older people in Taiwan.

着 vs 著

The character 「着」 is a variant of the character 「著」 and it’s also listed the standard simplified character, but it’s not often used in Taiwan:

纔 vs 才

I remember at university we had to learn to read texts in traditional Chinese. Many of the pre-Revolutionary texts from China used the traditional form 「纔 」 as opposed to 「才」 to mean “only then”. At several points in the text the author uses this more traditional form, however, both are listed in the Ministry of Education dictionary in separate listings, 「才」 has the additional meaning of talent or ability, but in this context they have similar meanings and 「才」is also the simplified version of 「纔」.

群 vs 羣

「羣」 is a variant of 「群」 and also suggests a stylistic choice made, rather than an accident.

This perhaps all makes sense when you think of the language used in the Bible in English and its surrounding literature, so this is perhaps an attempt to echo this kind of usage in Chinese.

Passive Aggressive Notes – Raincoat Thief 雨衣小偷

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A note posted by a busy intersection in Dingxi

你拿走義交  You took away the volunteer transport guard’s
雨衣 raincoat
請還回來吧 Please return it, OK?

I saw this note a while ago, and it remained there for a good few days during the early summer rains. It conjured up an image in my mind of the poor transport guard’s face when he discovered it missing just as the rain was coming on but you have to admire his trust in his fellow citizens that it would be returned if he stuck this note up.

Pro-unification Signs in Ximen 西門町統一分子

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This old man holding a People’s Republic of China flag is standing next to a sign reading:

「打倒日本侵略者,南京大屠殺罪惡」 “Overturn the Japanese invaders, and the evil of the Nanjing Massacre”

This video features several posters featuring the following messages:
「反對台獨,反對戰爭,台灣要和平,不願子女當炮灰」 “Oppose Taiwanese Independence, Oppose War. Taiwan should be in peace, so that our sons and daughters don’t become cannon fodder”
「什麼叫作92共識?92共識便是体現咱們都是中國人的意思。蔡英文是日本人嗎?蔡英文為什麼不承認92共識拖累我們?」
What is the 1992 Consensus? The 1992 Consensus embodies the idea that we are all Chinese. Is Tsai Ing-wen Japanese? Why does Tsai Ing-wen hold us back by not acknowledging the 1992 Consensus.
This is the spot where Taiwanese Independence activists gathered each week when the Kuomintang were in power.
Nearby here were the Falungong protesters, with posters and broadcasts calling for the arrest of former People’s Republic of China president Jiang Zemin for presiding over policies which purportedly allow for the harvesting of organs from political prisoners whilst still alive:
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These guys have invested in an English translation however:
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The sign on the left says “Bring Jiang Zemin to Justice” and on the right you can see
“Stop the Chinese Communist Party from violently harvesting organs from live donors”.

Messianic Jewish Endtime Ministries in Taiwan: On Gays, Abortion and the Sabbath

I’m always interested to see religious pamphlets when they come through my door, especially given the recent protests held by Taiwan’s Christian minority against the gay marriage bill.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has treated these religious groups on the same footing as pro-gay marriage groups, despite a lot of misinformation spread by the former on the actual content on the bill (lots of talk of men marrying Ferris wheels and dogs).

Anyway, I got this leaflet through the door this week, which appears to be associated with or enamoured with the “Aleph & Tav Prophetic Endtime Ministries“, a sect of Messianic Judaism, and have translated selections of it that I thought were interesting as they relate to gay rights and abortion.

The first page is slightly odd, in that it first suggests that there has been an uptick in “earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, heat waves, damage to crops from cold spells, epidemics and terrorist attacks” and then states that most of these are the result of how humanity has destroyed the earth’s environment. He then points out, that actually earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not related to global warming, but are rather a sign of god’s anger. He goes on to state that effects of global warming are far beyond what many scientists predicted, so god’s probably making global warming worse for us too.

After this the author goes into a rant about the Sabbath being from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, not Sunday as some Christians would have it. One line of this rant stood out to me:

不要再讓外邦人嘲笑我們不遵守十誡。

Don’t allow the people of foreign countries to continue to mock us for not observing the 10 Commandments.

This is interesting because it conflicts with statements made later on in the text, in which he criticizes Taiwanese people for blindly following Western conventions on the issue of abortion.

The second page is a little more interesting, and I’ve translated it in two parts. The first excerpt is as follows:

WarningWarning

Warning! Warning!

The creator clearly tells humanity in the bible “Homosexuality is sin”, but nowadays, people with ulterior motives use “respect for human rights” as a shield to promote such evil behaviour among humanity. Their motive is to destroy and obliterate our next generation! Over recent years the number of homosexuals, drug users and even people infected with AIDS [sic.] on school campuses has clearly risen, which is closely related to the evil education policies (gender equality education, today in schools they no longer emphasize the idea of one man and one woman, but they advocate to allow for diverse genders)! There are even massive parades by homosexual groups in Taiwan every year, with singers launching concerts to support the cause and the media writing favourable reports about them, which has led to an intangible brainwashing and warping of the value systems of Taiwan’s young people so that they can no longer tell right from wrong!

The creator tells us in the bible that “homosexuals” are an object of his scorn, and are accursed! (The city of Sodom was destroyed because of the sin of homosexuality). What is most regrettable is that during the presidential election we chose a political party that supports diverse families and we chose a leader who supports homosexuals. This choice has led our country to be cursed! As all the people of Taiwan must take responsibility for their decision! Do you still remember? The day after the election (January 17, 2016) their were dark clouds in the skies all over Taiwan, and it rained everywhere! This is a sign that the heavens were weeping for this accursed piece of land, from that time onward there has been natural disaster after natural disaster, with frequent news of accidents, but this is just punishment and discipline, in the hope that our compatriots can wake up to this as soon as possible, and be cheated by this disingenuous rhetoric no longer, to prevent an even bigger disaster befalling us!

Dear compatriots, we hereby implore you to save our country’s next generation, to clearly express your opposition while we still have freedom of speech, otherwise when a disaster befalls us and we will be left with nothing but regret! We ask that Christians not remain silent, as silence is tacit agreement in the eyes of the lord!

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Variant radicals on parade with the Tudigong: 「蹺境/遶境/繞境」

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I saw this notice stuck on a traffic light from the bus this morning.

These notices are stuck along lamp posts and walls when a temple parade is going to pass by this area. As well as including the blessings 「國泰民安」(a secure country and safety for the people), 「合境平安」(Peace for everyone and everything), 「風調雨順」(No rain or wind) and a fourth I can’t quite make out 「? 去? 千 ?」, the basic information is listed:

「店仔街福德宮

福德正神謹訂於

農曆106年2月2日9時

國曆106年2月27日9時

境、出巡 」

Dianzai Street (lit. Vendor Street) God of the Earth Temple Notice

The God of the Earth (also known by the name Tudigong, but here Fudezhengshen) is set

on the 2nd day of the 2nd month of the 106th year (sic.) of the lunar calendar

on the 2nd day of the 2nd month of the 106th year of the Republic of China

to tour the streets on inspection.

What should be noted here, is that according to the lunar calendar, this is the 丁酉 year, not the 106th year (a borrowing from the National calendar).

There’s also what I think is probably either a mistake, or an attempt to render the notice in Taiwanese, with the use of the character 「蹺」 (qiao1) instead of 「遶」 or 「繞」 (both variants of each other) in the phrase 「繞境」。

A quick Google search can confirm that it was probably a mistake, as there are only 1,390 results for 「蹺境」 overall, and only one result in a news search. Whereas 「遶境」 produces 515,000 results overall, and 85,200 results in a news search, and 「繞境」 produces 423,000 results overall, and 17,700 results in a news search.

Stealing power from the New Power Party – trademark battle

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New Power Party chair Huang Kuo-chang marching on Ketagalan Boulevard in protest against a meeting between former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jin-ping; NPP legislator and rock star Freddy Lim can be holding the banner behind him; Licensed under Creative Commons by 蕭長展 – https://musou.tw/focuses/1040

An article in the Oriental Daily News drew my attention to something I thought was quite amusing – a man called Wang Chao-an (王朝安), who reportedly has no relation to the New Power Party has trademarked their party emblem for use on a whole range of products, including clothing, backpacks, stationary and jewelry products, such as earrings, necktie pins and key-rings. He applied for the registration in May of 2016.

The registration with the trademark office is as below:

shidaililiang

While the party emblem is a strikingly similar rendering of the character “力” meaning “power” or “strength”

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The party intend to make a request for the registration to be cancelled with the trademark office through their lawyer, according to the report.

Earthquake Man and Pokemon Go 地震奇人

I went to Xinbeitou today to check out all the Pokemon Go fun. Loads of people and really nice atmosphere, although drivers weren’t seeing the fun side.

Every time there was a rare pokemon found in the park, there were whispers and a rising bubble of excitement followed by a stampede.

While I was waiting for my friend to finish up (as my battery had died), I got approached by a man with a National Taiwan Ocean University cap on his head, with the words 「地震奇人」(earthquake whisperer) along the side. He did the standard awkward stranger approach and after asking where we were from we continued to talk in a mixture of Chinese and English. He said that he didn’t understand why everyone had gone mad for the game, and said that he’d been coming to Xinbeitou for the hot springs for quite some time but it had never been so crowded before. After this things got a bit weird. He pointed to the「地震奇人」on his cap, which he said is someone who can hear earthquakes before they happen. He said he was working for free at the university as a postdoctoral researcher and that he was approaching 70 years of age. He said he was able to predict typhoons at least 8 days before they hit too. Then he took out this advertisement:

angelina-jolie

He asked me what I thought of the picture. Then started to describe how the different shapes represented different things. Like the mountain in the background is important because it represents a goal, and something about how it has its inverse in the neckline of Angelina Jolie’s top. The arm making an “L” shape and her leg an inverted “V” also featured. Then he started talking about the mangroves and what they represented. He then took out several other pictures. One was of a Fendi Karl Lagerfeld campaign as below:

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He said he was a structural engineer and had also studied economics, so he had created his own field which he calls “economic/financial architecture” or something similar. He took out a graph showing the stock price fluctuations of 東鋼 (Tungho Steel), when I asked him why Tungho Steel, he said it wasn’t important, that it was just about the shape of the fluctuations on the graph. He took out picture of two nearby buildings, which were visible from where we were standing. The first was the Radium Kagaya, pictured below:

radium_kagaya

He kept stressing the importance of threes, in particular, how the building moves out in three blocks from the right. He also had a picture of the building below, which neighbours it:

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It’s slightly harder to see, but he had another theory about the shape of the medium bit of this building, as the three parts towards the top have a different shape than the ones below.

He said his method of analysis was based on the discoveries of Robert F. Engle III and Clive W.J. Granger, who won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2003, the former for “methods of analyzing economic time series with time-varying volatility” and the latter for “for methods of analyzing economic time series with common trends (cointegration)”. It was slightly odd, because he kept mentioning the concept of qi (氣) too. I’m not sure how his interest in economic trends in the real estate market related to the shapes of the buildings. But I thought it was an interesting encounter I’d never have had if not for Pokemon Go.