English-Pinyin abbreviation games
My nephew suddenly piped up as we were driving down the road yesterday:
Ài cún bù cún!
“See if we care if you don’t want to save”*
Sure enough, we were passing
one of the largest banks in China.
The joke requires rudimentary knowledge of both Pinyin and English, which elementary students have in spades. It’s a play on ICBC, of course, where the I is read as the sound of the letter in English (same as Mandarin for “love”, 爱=ài) and CBC is made into an abbreviation for 存不存 = cún bù cún.
OK, not uproarious, but given the ungodly wait times at the place (ever have two tellers and 103 people in front of you?), it’s not hard to imagine the CFO cackling villainously: 爱存不存！
My title says “abbreviation games” but that’s all I got. Anyone else?
*Apologies for the contorted translation of 爱存不存. Feel free to offer something better. As every Mandarin learner soon learns, 爱X不X is a very productive construction generally used when A has suggested a course of action, X, to B and B doesn’t want to do X. Finally A gives up and says 爱X不X.
I hear it most often with grandparents trying to get grandkids to eat: 爱吃不吃, ài chī bù chī, “don’t eat and see if I care”. But nothing idiomatic comes to me in English. Quite possibly it’s proof that my native abilities are going the way of Citibank stock.