泊車 paak3 che1 English interpreted through Cantonese to Mandarin – Parking

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Parking Lot APP CEO Ronald Yu (second from left)

I recently attended a conference in Taipei at which the CEO of parking app 「停車大聲公」 (ParkingLotApp) Roland Yu (余致緯) described his company’s transition from a mobile-based valet parking application to an app that provides information to drivers on cheap and convenient parking spots near their destination where they can park themselves, allowing them to pre-book times and check availability. It was an interesting question and answer session and I’ll go into it in more depth in the IP Observer later this month.

What interested me in terms of language, however, was that although his app bears the word 「停車」 (ting2che1), meaning “to park”, Ronald kept using the word “pa車” during his speech.

During his brief introduction to his business, he mentioned that he’d written an article online detailing his company’s transition. On inspection of this, I found that he’s used the term 「泊車」, which although looks temptingly like 「怕」 is pronounced “bo2che1”. So why was he pronouncing it “pa”?

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Taiwan’s Receipt Lottery: Get Virtual Receipts and Connect to your Bank Account

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The receipt lottery in Taiwan – whereby you can win varying amounts of money if the invoice number of your receipt matches certain numbers announced every two months – is great. However, I firmly believe that many of my winning NT$10 million winning receipts have been victim to my washing machine, to sun damage or to falling down the back of the sofa until they’re out of date. There’s also the minor hassle of going through receipts for everything you’ve bought in the past two months receipt by receipt with the risk that you’ll not actually have won anything.

E-Receipts vs Traditional Receipts

There’s nothing you can do about the older receipts – the ones that change colour every two months, like the one below. You just have to check them every two months with that dwindling sense of dread that you haven’t won anything again and you’ve just wasted an hour of your life.

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The receipts issued by convenience stores, chain stores and an increasing number of other retailers that have two QR codes on the bottom, however, you can do something about.

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Scooter Equality Before Marriage Equality? – 「多元回家」

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I had quite a good time at the December 10 rally in support of the gay marriage bill. While I was gearing up to head home, however, I saw this (rather cheeky) attempt at hijacking the rally by an organization lobbying for the rights of scooter and motorcycle drivers on the road. They were riffing on the slogan from the “Diverse Families” draft bill — a previous and more wide-reaching proposal that had included gay marriage that had failed to gain approval — 「多元成家」 (Diverse Families) and swapped out the 「成家」 meaning “to form families” for 「回家」, meaning “to go home”. So the altered slogan reads “return home by diverse means”. Maybe they were just showing their support for the cause, and racking up some publicity on the side, anyway, you’ve got to respect a pun at the end of the day.

MRT Poetry: ‘Better a Song’ by Bai Ling 捷運詩:白靈的〈不如歌〉

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This time it’s a reader contribution. My former co-worker snapped this poem on the MRT and sent it to me. The poem was written by Chuang Tsu-huang (莊祖煌 pinyin: Zhuang Zuhuang) who goes under the pen-name Bai Ling (白靈). He was born in Taipei’s Wanhua District in 1951 to a family from Fujian in China. After studying chemistry in Taiwan and teaching for a while, he went to the US to study a master’s at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He is currently a professor at National Taipei University of Technology and at one time took part in a grassroots poetry collective, including a period as the editor of a grassroots poetry publication. He has won a plethora of prizes for his poetry.

不如歌 Better a Song

平靜的無,不如抓狂的有
Better a manic something over a tranquil nothing
坐等升溫的露珠,不如捲熱而逃的淚水
Better a tear bubbled up in heat over a dewdrop awaiting the warmth
猛射亂放的箭矢,不如挺出紅心的箭靶
Better to land the bullseye than to loose an arrow in haste
養鴿子三千,不如擁老鷹一隻
Better a single eagle than to raise three thousand doves
被吻,不如被啄
Better to be pecked, than to be kissed

Mixing Taiwanese Proverbs?: 「相罵無好話,打架恨無力」 sio-mē bô hó-ōe, sio-phah hīn bô-la̍t

So by now everyone’s quite likely seen the photo below of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) choking Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Chen Yi-min (陳宜民) over the latter’s attempt to disrupt the DPP’s passing of a holiday bill. The bill is an altered version of a KMT bill that the DPP had opposed while in opposition. The KMT reportedly has little opposition to the bill itself, but were objecting to what they see as DPP partisan hypocrisy in trying to pass a bill they had previously opposed and in passing the bill without allowing any time for debate. The KMT are not necessarily opposed to the practice of passing a bill without debate, but are rather a little miffed that the DPP is doing this despite praising and visiting students taking part in the Student Sunflower Movement, who were protesting the very same method of passing bills when the KMT was trying to pass a cross-strait trade-in-services act in 2014. Despite more publicity being given to the photo below, the KMT reportedly stuck the proverbial boot into a few DPP legislators too, but less conspicuously.

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Photo source: Wild East Magazine

Anyway, this post is not primarily concerned with politics, but rather with a Taiwanese phrase used by former New Party legislator Li Sheng-feng (李勝峰) when commentating on the scuffle on TVBS’s political chat show ‘The Situation Room’:

 

「相罵無好話,打架恨無力」 sio-mē    hó-ōe,  sio-phah  hīn bô-la̍t

Nothing good or auspicious is said when people are cursing at each other; people hate themselves for not being able to hit each other harder in a fight.

I originally thought that this was a mixture of two phrases in Taiwanese:

1. 「相罵無好話  相打無揀位」sio-mē     hó-ōesio-phah  kéng ūi which means “It’s easy to say awful things when arguing and to underestimate your strength in a fight”.

2. 「相罵恨無聲,相拍恨無力」sio-mē  hīn  bô-siaⁿ , sio-phah  hīn bô-la̍t which means “When in an argument, you hate yourself for not being able to shout them down louder, and in a fight you’ll hate yourself for not being able to hit them harder”, or, you’ll always try and find a way to bring the other person down.

But my (very gracious) Taiwanese friend called his mother in the south and she said that the phrase that the guy says on the TV program does actually exist and that it is the same as the meaning of No. 2 listed above. But she also pointed out that people in southern Taiwan say “hūn” instead of “hīn”.

Feel free to share your opinion or any similar phrases you have in the comments section.

 

Protests in Taipei: Uber vs Taxis; Land Rights and Illegal Buildings

Last week I saw taxis besieging the Executive Yuan (between Shandao Temple and Taipei Main MRT) over the government’s failure to crackdown on Uber quickly enough.  Taxi drivers were protesting because of Uber’s refusal to be subject to taxi regulations in Taiwan‬ and it’s refusal to clarify its tax status. My colleagues at work had a related discussion last week over whether existing (over?) regulation is strangling disruptors in the interest of maintaining the status quo. While there were a wide range of opinions as to whether Uber‬ is, in fact, bringing anything new to the Taiwanese industry as a disruptor or whether it’s just trying to dodge consumer protection regulations and tax, the conversation can be extended beyond Uber to the financial sector and further afield. Some of my colleagues thought the government was being too cautious when it comes to providing legislative flexibility to innovative industry disruptors while others thought existing legislation was just common-sense protection for industry players and consumers? The government announced that they are going to launch “diversified” taxis, but it’ll be interesting how the story develops beyond just the Uber issue.

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About a week prior to the taxi protest, I was passing by the front of the Executive Yuan when I saw this protest placard, along with a single protester. It reads:

政府無能,     [When] the government is inept,

百姓受窮,     the ordinary people are forced to live in poverty;

竊盜私地,     Stealing private land

罪大惡極,    is an extremely pernicious crime.

天理難容。     [which] the heavens cannot tolerate.

哀!     Woe!

I’m not sure if it was a specific grievance as I didn’t stop to chat, but maybe someone can help me out in the comments section.

I saw the banner below outside my friend’s housing development when she invited me for a barbecue/pool party there (near Qizhang MRT – opposite Carrefour):

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Common facilities (of a residential complex) are illegal buildings, the residents have been lied to

From what I’ve gleaned from the internet, this is a controversy over certain common areas of a residential complex which were built without planning permission by the developers. The city government then demolished or plans to demolish these areas and the residents are protesting because they were sold their apartments under false terms.

If you’ve seen any disgruntled looking peeps holding signs let me know in the comments section!

Tea Trademarks and Chinese Variants: King of Teas/Ali One Tea Dispute 茶裏王/阿里王商標大戰

13730546_10102616344538349_1668283995_oI thought that the recent trademark dispute between Taiwanese tea brands 「茶裏王」 (King of Tea) and 「阿里王 Ali One」 that resolved in favour of the former was interesting because two characters 「里」 and 「裏」 have been seen by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court as the same character.

「茶裏王」 was launched in the early 2000s by Tainan-based international food conglomerate Uni-President Enterprises Corporation, while 「阿里王 Ali One」 was launched in 2014 by a woman called Huang Yi-zhen (黃逸蓁).

The name 「茶裏王」 translates to “King of Teas” because the 「裏」, a common variant of the character 「裡」, means “among” or “in”  – so it’s literal meaning is “among teas a king”. 「阿里王」 however, just uses 「里」 as a phonetic particle as part of 「阿里」which alludes to 「阿里山」 (Alishan National Scenic Area) – which itself is a transliteration of the Tsou (鄒) aboriginal name for the area “Jarissang”. In fact, although 「里」 means “in” in simplified Chinese, in which it is used in place of 「裡」 and 「裏」, in traditional Chinese, it is only used as a unit of measurement (approx 500m) and for an administrative unit under township (neighborhood/village). Each district in Taipei has an individual li, as shown in the street sign below:

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While the 「王」 in 「茶裏王」 means “King”, the 「王」 in 「阿里王 Ali One」 appears primarily to be a transliteration of the English word “one”, hence the product’s English name. A similar example is the 「旺」 in 「旺旺集團」, which is anglicized using the English word “want”, to give you the Want Want Holdings Group – the company at the center of the media monopoly protests in Taiwan and my former employer. However, there’s also a sense that the 「阿里王 Ali One」 trademark is also playing off the use of the word 「王」 as both a transliteration and for its literal meaning as “king”, i.e. King of Ali (referencing Alishan, an important tea-growing area in Taiwan). So the case for the third character is not as strong as that for the second, in my unqualified view.

Thus, the Intellectual Property Court finding as quoted by this report on the trademark case would seem to be incorrect:

智財法院認為,「茶裏王」、「阿里王Ali ONE」商標都是用於茶葉商品,第二個字皆有「里」字,第三個字皆為「王」字,對消費者而言近似程度高,加上「茶裏王」商標使用久、知名度高,因此應給「茶裏王」較大的保護,今判統一勝訴,智財局須撤銷「阿里王Ali ONE」商標註冊,全案仍可上訴。

The Intellectual Property Court found that the trademarks “茶裏王” (King of Tea) and “阿里王 Ali One” are both used to market tea products, and that the second character in each is “里” while the  third characters in each are both “王” (King), so they are very similar for consumers. In addition because the “茶裏王” trademark has been in use for a long time and is very well-known. because of this, “茶裏王” should have greater protection, so Uni-President Enterprises Corporation won the case today, and the Taiwan Intellectual Property Bureau rescinds the trademark granted for “阿里王Ali One”, although the case is still subject to appeal.

The 「茶裏王」 bottles have recently been featuring thought-for-the-day style “profundities” (note the use of speech marks) such as the one below, which I thought was particularly apt to go with this post:

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Photocopy machines are used to remind you

That if you only copy

You’ll stay in the corner forever

Have you done something innovative today?

 

 

Taiwanese phrase: Pretence of diffidence when you really can’t help yourself -「愛甲給細二」/「愛食假細膩」 ài chia̍h ké sè-jī

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I was talking to my friend when he started talking about the vibe in Taipei bars, in the sense that people always complain about them every week, but still end up there anyway, due to fear of missing out. He said the following:
每周都出現在同樣夜店的人 嘴中總是掛著"I hate this place" “so boring here”但還是每周都出現,「愛甲給細二」。
(The people who turn up at the nightclubs every week are always saying “I hate this place” and “It’s so boring here”, but every week they turn up, they pretend diffidence, but they love it really despite themselves.)
The Taiwanese phrase he uses 「愛甲給細二」 is likely 「愛食假細膩」 ài chia̍h  sè-jī. This is equivalent 「貪吃假裝客氣」 in Mandarin, so “people who love to eat, pretending to be polite about it”.
There is also an alternate phrase with the same meaning in Taiwanese, which is pointed out at the Taiwan Language blog:
「iau(夭)鬼假細膩」  iau-kúi  sè-lī  which translates as “a glutton pretending to be polite”.
 Photo from Greed (1924) – Public Domain

MRT Poetry: ‘Mental Image’ by Yan Ai-lin 捷運詩句:顏艾琳的「意想圖」

There’s still plenty of nice poetry to be found on the MRT when you’re out and about in the city.

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意想圖

Mental Image

木訥之僧在街口肅立

An unaffected taciturn monk stands solemnly on the corner

他伸出雙手

With both hands outstretched

十指化為一隻缽

His ten fingers forming an alms bowl

化著路行者的隨緣心

Shaping the casual kindness of passersby

Yan Ailin was born in 1968 in Tainan. She graduated in history from Fu Jen Catholic University. She is a poet, a lecturer and an author.

N.B.  Variants of 「缽」 featured in a previous post.

 

 

Jolin Tsai up for a Cabinet Position? (Joke) 蔡依林內閣 (笑)

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I was watching another KMT/blue-leaning political talk show earlier today and came across the following joke from talking head Tang Hsiang-lung (唐湘龍):

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A rough translation is as below:

I could call it the Tsai Yi-lin (Jolin Tsai’s Chinese name) cabinet

Because it looks as if Tsai Ing-wen (Jolin shares a surname with the president)

Is relying (the word for rely “依” is the second character of Jolin’s name) on Lin Chuan’s (the premier of Taiwan; his surname makes up the last character in Jolin’s name) methods

To form the cabinet.

I don’t know enough about the politics to comment, but just thought it would be amusing to see the kind of jokes that can be made in Chinese.

See him in action here:

 

Photo credit: Hsiao Lee