Know your audience
This is a billboard in the subway station in Shanghai. This was taken at 徐家汇, line 9.
The most enjoyable way to learn Chinese: Qing Dao Pi Jiu
The Mandarin at the bottom:
zài Zhōngguó hē jiǔ, huì shuō “qīngdǎo píjiǔ”,
In China when drinking beer, you can say “Tsing Tao beer”
kěnéng bǐ huì shuō “nǐhǎo” gèng zhòngyào.
which is perhaps even more important than being able to say “hello”.
There are other ways, probably better ways, to translate that first 在中国喝酒 part. But that’s not the point. There are a few things here that are more important.
What struck me first is that Tsing Tao, which uses the old
Wade-Giles Postal Romanisation* form for their name**, then has pinyin in the ad. Well, they should, if they’re teaching foreigners how to say their name. Every time another friend comes to visit me in China, or every time I meet someone over drinks who just got here, they invariably pronounce it “ʦʰiŋ tʰaʊ”, which is what you’d expect for the spelling if you didn’t know any better. But then I got to thinking about this a little more.
What’s with the bottom part being in Mandarin? It’s telling us Expo go-ers (or so I assume) that it’s more useful to know how to say “Bring me a beer” than “hi”. The tagline at the bottom, which appeared on the other Tsing Tao ads in the subway, says “Drink Tsing Tao, Understand China”. But then, if you can read that, you already understand China because you’re probably Chinese.
And that’s who the ad is actually targeting. This seems to be another “Let’s use English to make ourselves look more international/hip/whatever” when English speakers aren’t who they’re targeting.
Oddly enough, I was doing a quick search on Baidu to see if I could get a version of this ad that was clearer than my phone managed to capture. While doing so I saw a post that was something like “Why do all the laowai in China like TsingTao so much??”
Maybe because we have it in the West. Or maybe because it’s all the same crap and it seems safer than drinking a beer called “beer” spelled backwards. Ice cold IPA, anyone?
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* I should have known my audience would have picked up on that and that fact-checking was in order. Thanks, Brendan.
** much like Peking University, among others.