Saturday, June 10, 2006

Made In Chian

95 Made In Chian

Wanbatan. This an unpleasant expression in Madarin. Literally, it means turtle eggs. But it’s the equivalent of “son of a bitch” or even worse.

Maybe it’s not spelled right. After all, Chinese doesn’t use the English alphabet. It could be Wan-Ba Tan. Or even waMbatan.

In any case, the average Mandarin speaker will get the idea on hearing it.

And to the average speaker of English it’s meaningless.

We don’t care about Chinese literacy because a huge chunk of the population of China is seen as our plantation workers. Ultimately, the workers will own their own plantation and ours. But that’s a story for another time.

Right now, these guys are making everything we use.

Including the living room clock.

It’s a lovely clock. A Roman numeral face in a fancy twisty metal vine. A thing of beauty.

No name on the face. But the proud statement of the manufacturer: MADE IN CHIAN.

So what if they don’t write English over there. This is an instant collectible.

Showing this to people and asking them to say what it says proves we don’t need English as an Official Language. We need attention as a first language.

Everyone who’s seen this thing has failed to see the dyslexic spelling.

Guess they don’t have spell check over there yet. Bill Gates, are you listening?

On the other hand, this is not the only time something like this has happened.

This is a mass production misspelling.

Here’s a customized one, and it happened a long time ago.

Mark was a reporter. He had a Pontiac Firebird and someone rear-ended it.

The trunk lid got smooshed.

They had to straighten it out and replace the letters, which they did.

For the rest of its life, the trunk lid told the world the car was a P O N I T A C.

Mark thought long and hard about having the “I” and the “T” swapped, then finally decided not to because it made the car a collectible.

Like the Chian-ese clock.

Except all the guys at the body shop were born here and spoke English.

A yellow Firebird with a black roof. Quite snazzy in its day.

We have pictures of all this. But no one believes pictures anymore, either.

It’s not just “Forest Gump” photographed with all those important people. It’s that everything is subject to computer manipulation these days.

And we no longer can say “the camera doesn’t lie.” Of course it does. Often and well.

Like everything else.

And almost everyone.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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