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Monday, February 13, 2012

Three years ago, when Chloe was at the height of her international fame, I received a Facebook friend request from a bloke in China, who'd seen my cat's news coverage in the Far East, and felt that I was just the kind of animal-loving Westerner he'd like to get to know online. Little did he realise, of course, that befriending me on Facebook is a bit like trying to get up close and personal with a yeti. My appearances there are so rare and fleeting that you'd have more chance of spotting the Loch Ness Monster. I'm basically the Santa Claus of social networking. Well known but non-existent.

So for the past three years, he and I have been maintaining the kind of friendship which does nothing for either of us. I rarely post anything at all, while most of what he says is in Chinese, and completely meaningless to me. But the other day he shared a drawing done by a friend of his called Martin Lau, who appears to be some kind of political cartoonist. And here it is...

(c) Martin Lau
According to the automatic translation feature on Facebook, that picture's entitled 'Two Species Beggar', which I think says more about computer generated translation than it does about the drawing.

Sadly, my knowledge of Chinese politics is matched only by my understanding of their language, so I couldn't tell you who the figures are or what they're saying, but I do feel confident that you could be locked up and tortured for mocking them. Part of the description translates as "But the pirates listen to the drawings", which presumably means that actions speak louder than words when you're protesting against corrupt officials.

But that's not what intrigued me about the picture. What I found really interesting is that the bespectacled chap on the left pauses in the middle of his Chinese speech and starts stumbling along in English. Is that a known phenomenon in China? When they're lost for words, do they start speaking in another language? Or is there just no word for 'Er' in Mandarin?


Phil's Mum said...


A Passer-by said...

Maybe it's an comedy act, loosely translated: What did 5 Chinamen say when they came out of a janitor's closet? SUPPLIES!!!

Phil said...

Don't start. The only joke Lisa knows is a mildly offensive gag about the Chinese, and she doesn't need much persuasion to tell it. So let's not go there.

Phil said...

I didn't know you could speak Chinese!