My note-writing neighbour (you can see their doctoral thesis here) has been at it again, although, to be fair, this doesn’t rank up there with their more passive-aggressive notes (although I would have appreciated a 「請」 thrown in there somewhere). I almost identified with them on this note, as it represents a phenomenon I often encounter when learning other languages, the tendency to assume that a specific usage of a multipurpose verb in your language can apply to all the usages of the verb in your target language, illustrated brilliantly below:
壞了，一直在閃、很危險、不要開。 Don’t drive.
Broken, it keeps flashing, it’s dangerous, don’t turn it on.
「開」 in Chinese means “to start” or “to turn on”, in conjunction with 「車」 it can also mean “to drive”. So I’m guessing they googled “不要開” and got “Don’t drive.” I guess the solution is to always search for the terms you Google translate to see if it matches the idea you were going for and is used commonly in the target language. The only example I can think of going the other way is the tendency of foreigners to use 「是」 for adjectival phrases in Chinese, 「我是熱」, for example, as an overly literal translation of “I am hot.” Can you think of any examples that fit the brief more accurately?
My neighbour clearly hasn’t been taking notes since I corrected their previous note which was either on door closures or dog euthanasia:
你拿走義交 You took away the volunteer transport guard’s
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.
It’s now well-documented how voracious my neighbours are in their appetite for note-writing, but they’ve outdone themselves once again with this in-depth study on the consequences of not closing the door and the art of door-closing itself:
Recently con artists have been running rampant. They pretend to be express delivery men and come to your door with fake cigarettes and fake alcohol. As soon as you sign in receipt for the goods, later [sic.] people will come to collect money, asking for several tens of thousand of NT. If you don’t agree to give it to them, debt collectors or the mafia will come to your door and stick an axe in your face. Please be sure to close the door.
Don’t worry, this literary masterpiece is not complete yet, the author, having exhausted their veiled threats of mafia men and axe-chucking debt collectors, is fetching a new page to instruct us mere mortals on the true art of door closing:
Please close the door more lightly. Don’t do it so forcefully. Given that you don’t have anything against the door personally, you don’t need to bring the entire building down.
What I don’t understand is why would having the door closed fend off these roving hordes of axe-wielding con-artist delivery men. In case you are wondering… I do close the door, and try to close it lightly (even though it’s a natural slammer). I wonder when the English version will come out.
Is your building being peppered with notes? Have you been attacked by axe-wielding con-men and lived to tell the tale? Comment below or contact me!
Following on from my past post on the passive aggression that results from the limited parking spaces in Taipei, I thought I’d follow up with a similar post about rubbish, after seeing this sign, on a street in the Daan district of Taipei:
If you live in Taipei you’ve probably seen a whole heap of signs similar to this, but the hysterical tone and the interesting use of punctuation of this particular one made it stand out for me. It reads:
Can’t you have the least shred of decency? Don’t pile rubbish up here!!?? Dogs come here to eat it every day and there is shit everywhere.
If you don’t live in Taiwan you may be unfamiliar with the system. Basically you have to buy special bags at convenience stores to put rubbish in, then at a certain time every day the rubbish trucks will come to the end of your street. Unlike in the UK, you Continue reading →