I heard the phrase 「有紅花也要有綠葉」 in a conversation between two colleagues in the tea room about a prospective KTV session. The guy was singing as he made his coffee, and the other colleague asked why he was so happy. He replied that it’s not that he’s super happy but that given the arrival of a new colleague, he’s looking forward to a KTV sesh. The colleague replied modestly that she is silent as the grave in KTV sessions. The guy then said in jest 「有紅花也要有綠葉」 (lit. You can be the green leaves that set off the red flower). This is used as a metaphor for how a great musician/great actor needs supporting musicians/actors for their performance to be carried off, which made me think of the microaggression that is Bette Middler’s song “The Wind Beneath My Wings”. Of course, he followed it up with a 「沒有啦」 to ensure his modesty was in tact, before blasting another view verses of the song he’d been rehearsing.
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:
Classic example here of tearing up a note, but leaving it up to show the person what you think of their message (there was a trash can just beside the elevator).
We’ve used the latest digital methods to enhance and reconstruct the original note as below:
The note reads:
「請不要將廚餘、垃圾放在地上」 (Please don’t put kitchen waste or rubbish on the ground)
Note: I did not take any part in the writing or tearing of this note
Another passive aggressive note that reads as follows:
- 這附近很少有流浪犬，卻常在巷口這一帶見到狗狗的[drawing of pool of dog piss]和 💩。
非常感謝！ Thanks a lot!!
Dear block neighbours:
- There are very few stray dogs around here, but I often find doggy and [drawing of pool of dog piss] and 💩 around the mouth of the alley.
- Think of how this affects the mood of people who step on it when they come in or out… 😞
- Please have some common decency & take responsibility as a pet owner, don’t let your pet dog defecate and urinate without cleaning it up!
THANKS A LOT!
The friendly tone of the note, but insistent use of emojis qualify it as passive aggressive.
Also interesting is the use of the character 「溺」(here niao4/ㄋㄧㄠˋ) as a variant for 「尿」
I previously posted about passive aggressive notes in Taipei related to parking. But this post couldn’t really be described as “passive aggressive” as it is pure aggression from start to finish:
You can see the shutter of a shop in the reflection of the car window, which reads 「請勿停車」, which means “Please do not park”. And here’s a close-up of the note:
The note reads:
Or in English:
By puncturing my tires you’ve already broken the law! Today I already went to report it as a crime and we’ve gone through the CCTV footage. I’ll give you three days to own up and come to an agreement, otherwise I’ll proceed through legal means. If you had the guts to do it, have the guts to behave like a gentleman about it. If you don’t deal with this honestly don’t regret the unpleasantness that comes!
We’ve got witnesses and evidence
It’s interesting that the author used the shorthand 「当」 for the character 「當」, which is the same as the simplified version of the character used in China. They also use the shorthand 「処」chu3, which is a variant which differs from both the standard version of the simplified (处）and traditional character (處）:
This explains that 「処」 is a variant of 「處」（as is the simplified character）.
I don’t know what the situation is exactly and if the car belongs to the person who put the “no parking” sign on their shutter or someone else. I’m also not sure what the 「85-7-留」 means, thought it might be a license plate or a reference to a law, but it doesn’t seem to be the latter. Let me know if you know!
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!
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!
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