Friday, June 24, 2011

=UPDATED= Tsai picks slogan: "Taiwan NEXT"

I sure hope the DPP's campaign slogan sounds better to second language listeners than native speakers. It's "Taiwan NEXT"....
“Taiwan NEXT” will be one of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) most prominent campaign slogans heading into next year’s elections, a party official said yesterday.

“These two words represent a lot to us,” spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) told the Taipei Times. “They represent something new and clear for the public. These two words will show the public exactly what values they are voting for.”
Fortunately, the KMT is vying with the DPP to see who can come with the most awkward, soporific Chinglish slogan. I think the KMT is winning that one, hands down:
The disclosure of Tsai’s election slogan follows President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) naming of his election campaign office as “Taiwan Cheers, Great.”
"Taiwan cheers, great". It may not be possible to write a more uneuphonious, arrhythmic slogan than that; it gives me heart palpitations just to hear it. UPDATED: I have now see the Chinese, it is in the comments. This is just the TT translation, and isn't very good. It actually says something like "Taiwan Go! Awesome!"  and contains a play on words that can't be translated. The slogan is not official in English.

This is just another example of the usual practice of not letting native speakers look at the English produced by institutions in Taiwan before it is made public. I feel like writing an open letter to the Tsai campaign:
Dear Dr. Tsai:

There are thousands of native speakers of English on this island, from many countries. Many have backgrounds in advertising, corporate communications, literature or the arts. Many of them are proud supporters of Taiwan. Why was this awkward campaign slogan, which sounds like an announcement of Beijing's expansion plans (Taiwan -- next!) permitted to see the light of day without thorough review by the pro-Taiwan English speaking community.

I sure hope this slogan sounds better to second language listeners.

Your strong supporter,

Michael Turton
Mad Blogger
.....except I'd have to send copies to all the museums and public buildings in Taiwan too.....

ADDED: Put your reactions and suggestions for slogans in the comments, please.

UPDATE: Apple Daily Poll has Tsai up by three points (here), 46-43. ERA TV also has Tsai up 3, 37-34 (here)

UPDATE II: A local media person just passed around the observation that "下一個台灣'' is the translation being used in the local Chinese language media.
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51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really hope you sent her that letter

OzSoapbox said...

I wonder if they realise 'xxx, NEXT!' is commononly used to signify that xxx is a boring subject.

eg. 'So what's been happening?'

'OMG yesterday I found a shoelace on the side of the road!'

'a shoelace?! NEXT!'

The KMT cheers great naming is hilarious too. It's like we're stuck in a Jackie Chan movie or something.

Jonas said...

With museums, there's at least the case to be made that their English translations matter for foreign visitors. With these slogans, why should they appeal to "native English speakers"?

As an ardent linguistic descriptivist, I don't see any reason why some dialects of English ought to be privileged over others, and I don't think it's unreasonable to think that there is a developing Taiwanese dialect of English, much like Singlish. To appeal to "native English speakers" is really an unwarranted privileging of non-Taiwanese English, when non-Taiwanese English speakers are clearly not the intended target.

At any rate, these slogans are no more linguistically awkward than "long time no see", a phrase that many "native English speakers" would be happy to speak nowadays.

(For more on descriptivism, see http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1562)

Jenna said...

Will you accept fake suggestions?

Like "The Taiwan is Best One!"

and "I am Really Love Taiwan!"

and "Taiwan is the good country in the global!"

and "I suggest you to vote for the Tsai"

and "Yes, We Can! Election Tsai 2012~~"

and "Taiwan Can Be Winner!"

Anonymous said...

I'm a native speaker, and I don't think "Taiwan Next" sounds that bad. It's not brilliant, but I actually like it more than some campaign slogans I remember from the USA.

"Taiwan cheers, great" on the other hand ...

-MK

Anonymous said...

Ha! That's the first thing that came to my mind, too, given the recent news about the aggressive stance China (PROC) took in the disputes over the South China Sea. Maybe it is intentional.

KMT may be using the word "Great" to denote sarcasm,since what they really want should be China (whatever that is) cheers.

Ben Goren said...

I agree both DPP and KMT slogans are teeth grindingly awful. Here's some I thought of in oh all of 5 minutes ....

Trust In Taiwan

A Taiwan For Tomorrow

Taiwan With Tsai

Taking Taiwan Forward

Tomorrow's Taiwan

Think Taiwan, Think Tsai Ying-wen

Anonymous said...

Here are just a few that could be winning slogans for the DPP:

Taiwan ZOWIE.
Space laser Taiwan.
Taiwan triple luck double happy.
Together of Taiwan.
Taiwannabee success.

Tim Maddog said...

I think Ma Ying-jeou's campaign slogan of 「台灣加油 讚」 is completely disingenuous (atop sounding like "Taiwan gas station"), but I wonder if "Taiwan Cheers, Great" is their official translation or just the Taipei Times' poor attempt to tell readers what the Mandarin version means.

Can anybody find a link to an English version of Ma's official campaign site in order to verify?

Tim Maddog

Michael Turton said...

As an ardent linguistic descriptivist, I don't see any reason why some dialects of English ought to be privileged over others, and I don't think it's unreasonable to think that there is a developing Taiwanese dialect of English, much like Singlish.

It is nice that a dialect is developing, if true, but the equality of all languages is purely an issue for linguists. In the real world some languages have higher status than others, which is why the slogan is in English in the first place.

We do politics, and a key part of politics is image. Taiwan Next is clunky in English, (and if you want you can ask some of the locals to translate into Minnan or Mandarin. See what you get) and underwhelms. It will not make Tsai look spiffy to the global audiences whose acceptance and support she might need, instead it looks amateurish. It feeds into the notion that the DPP are a bunch of amateurs. Wouldn't it have been better if Tsai had called a convocation of many of us pro-DPP foreigners to thrash out a good sounding English slogan, one that appeals locally and globally? Surely we could have generated many suggestions for the DPP braintrust to contemplate. Or imagine if she had run a contest and then picked the best three....

But no. Instead of wisely involving the community and audiences, in a sort of informal test-marketing....

Michael

Anonymous said...

蔡英文 - His first name means "English". Don't try to teach him this anymore.

Okami said...

The fail is strong in both camps. I can't think of a worst slogan for Tsai. It sounds like it's the next conquest for China. The sheer pig-headed stubbornness of Taiwanese can just be infuriating at times.

The worst part is my coworker who passed the 2 out of 4 levels of the GEPT sees nothing wrong with either slogan so I think both parties are pretty safe with their lousy English.

I think they should use the Team America World Police slogan.

M said...

Taiwan Cheers, Great is just the Taipei Times translation of 台灣加油 讚 .
Taiwan NEXT is Tsai's official English slogan...

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest, it doesn't matter and most Taiwanese will just be happy that they roughly know what these English words mean.

to join the fun:

Taiwan sparkly rainbow bright!

should be a winner

Michael Turton said...

Yes, it's a really shitty translation too.

Michael

Thomas said...

Well, whatever the name of Ma's campaign office, we do know that odd English slogans are indeed a hallmark of both sides. Remember two years ago when "Taiwan Up" made it onto Taipei 101 during the New Years firework display?

Anonymous said...

How does the "台灣加油" work with their perception that taiwan is part of china? afraid to lose voters if they us 中華民國加油?

Anonymous said...

"Super Taiwan Sexy Fantastic!"

John Scott said...

Of course, we all know that these English-looking slogans are directed only at the Taiwanese electorate; the overwhelming majority of whom do not understand more than a few words in English. And thank you, Mr. Linguist for pointing out the obvious.

If the English-looking slogan sounds nice to the Taiwanese voters, that it's a good slogan. I don't think they typically release official slogans in other languages besides Mandarin, MinNan and English.

Also, consider that it would be painfully embarrassing for either party (and especially the DPP) if it became known that they adopted a slogan suggested by a foreigner. The media would exploit that to the maximum.

And of course, institutions who print and publish brochures, websites, plaques, etc. in English should try harder to get some feedback from a competent native-English proofreader. One example is the English-language version of the rulebook for getting a driving or scooter license (AND the actual test!). Both are full of ridiculous errors, often to the point of being incomprehensible. A proofreader could have it looking good in about 40 minutes. But no one ever thought of that.

Jonas said...

It is nice that a dialect is developing, if true, but the equality of all languages is purely an issue for linguists. In the real world some languages have higher status than others, which is why the slogan is in English in the first place.

But that is simply not the claim. The claim is not that all dialects are equal uniformly. Rather, the claim is that audience matters. And here, the audience is not the globe, or even American or British or Australian English speakers who live in Taiwan, but the Taiwanese.

Yes, the slogan is in English. The question is whether it is in American English, British English, Australian English, or as I claim, Taiwanese English.

We do politics, and a key part of politics is image. Taiwan Next is clunky in English, (and if you want you can ask some of the locals to translate into Minnan or Mandarin. See what you get) and underwhelms. It will not make Tsai look spiffy to the global audiences whose acceptance and support she might need, instead it looks amateurish. It feeds into the notion that the DPP are a bunch of amateurs. Wouldn't it have been better if Tsai had called a convocation of many of us pro-DPP foreigners to thrash out a good sounding English slogan, one that appeals locally and globally? Surely we could have generated many suggestions for the DPP braintrust to contemplate. Or imagine if she had run a contest and then picked the best three....

Again, I don't understand why in vying for the president of Taiwan, Tsai should care at all the global audience. I also don't understand what the basis of the clunckiness judgment is. Do you think "Taiwan Next" is more clunky than "long time no see"? It only looks amateurish if we assume that American (or British or Australian) English is superior to Taiwanese English even in communicating to a Taiwanese audience and if we assume that "native speaker" judgments of clunkiness without notable bases is worth anything.

Language isn't just an issue for the linguists. As Orwell noted in "Politics and the English Language", there is much politics in the languages, including implicit or explicit claims of superiority. The relevant judgment here is how the people who can vote for Tsai perceive Tsai's English slogan, and I suspect many of them are deeply apathetic but few would find it particularly awkward.

David on Formosa said...

I don't think the DPP need to limit themselves to using English. Why not "Taiwan Daiichi"?

Marc said...

"Besides, Taiwan"

blobOfNeurons said...

Awful slogan? CAN DO!

TsaiWillBeTheWan!

Thoth Harris said...

Well, it does make sense if Tsai & DPP are acquiring Next Media sponsorship. If that were the case, I'd be all for it!

Herman said...

At least it wasn't "Taiwan, Ho!"

Might sound good in Minnan, though...

John S said...

"Taiwan forever-- always your best choice!

Taiwan Echo said...

This is weird, Michael, I didn't see any news in Chinese talking about that Tsai has already picked a slogan. There's one report saying that she "pre-selected" one, but it is 現在決定未來, means "Determine your future now". Sounds nothing close to "Taiwan Next".

Besides, the report says it isn't finalized yet. So it could change any time.

Anonymous said...

maybe they meant, Tsai will bring you "the NEXT Taiwan"!

Michael said...

I'm with Jonas on this one.

I'm also a little surprised at Michael Turton's arrogance to think that Tsai would want or need native English speakers input on something like a campaign slogan for a presidential campaign.

Furthermore, to get foreigners to help with a campaign slogan seems pretty counter intuitive to the DPP stance that Taiwan should rely on being Taiwanese, not foreign.

Michael Turton said...

I'm also a little surprised at Michael Turton's arrogance to think that Tsai would want or need native English speakers input on something like a campaign slogan for a presidential campaign.

I admit it. It is strange to imagine getting help from native English speakers with skills in marketing, advertising, the arts, and literature when designing a campaign slogan in English. What a bizarre, sick idea. Only a truly arrogant person would advocate getting help from a professional when campaigning. I mean, look at politicians in western nations. They never hire professional campaign staff, nor do they consult ad agencies or marketing professionals. And look at multinational corporations in foreign lands -- they never hire staff with skills in the local languages and cultures.

Weird, I know. Sometimes I just can't help but be so arrogant.

M said...

Furthermore, to get foreigners to help with a campaign slogan seems pretty counter intuitive to the DPP stance that Taiwan should rely on being Taiwanese, not foreign.

Why produce a slogan in a foreign language then, especially since the target audience is entirely made up of local Taiwanese?

John S said...

>>> "Why produce a slogan in a foreign language then, especially since the target audience is entirely made up of local Taiwanese?"

Very simple. Because it is "modern" and "global" to have a slogan in English. Look at anything marketed in Asia --there is always an English-sounding jingle or catch-phrase to go along with it.

Thomas said...

"At any rate, these slogans are no more linguistically awkward than "long time no see".

Whoa! Bad bad bad example man. Long time, no see is clunky on purpose. Look up its origin. It is a popularized version of a mocking imitation of a pidgin English. So you might indeed be right: Taiwan Next is indeed no more clunky than long time, no see.

I think the key thing to remember is that, while election slogans ideally target the typical electorate, Taiwan does not have the typical electorate. While foreign perceptions are not all-important in Taiwan, they still matter very much. Why do you think that Ma expends so much effort at telling both Taiwanese AND the US that he will not be a troublemaker like big bad Chen? Because those Taiwanese who do care about foreign policy and it's role in determining the country's status (they are out there) care about the perceptions of the US and even China to an extent. If the US media goes Ga Ga over Tsai (unlikely), some of that coverage will filter through to Taiwan, thereby reinforcing the image of Tsai as acceptable to the US among local voters. This is much more likely to happen if the US media and other audiences think she is educated and suave. They are less likely to think she has these qualities with slogans such as Taiwan Next.

The importance of cultivating a good image abroad does not suggest that this image will pick up huge quantities of local votes, but it could pick up a few, and in a close election (Bush vs. Gore for example), a handful of votes may be all you need.

Jonas said...

Whoa! Bad bad bad example man. Long time, no see is clunky on purpose.

Uhh, no. The example is chosen on purpose. It shows that "native" linguistic judgments really track something like familiarity, rather than anything serious underneath (e.g. grammar). If something that sounds clunky at first may come to sound familiar, why not "Taiwan NEXT"?

I admit it. It is strange to imagine getting help from native English speakers with skills in marketing, advertising, the arts, and literature when designing a campaign slogan in English.

Again, it would make sense to get, say, native American English speakers to design a campaign slogan in American English. However, if the campaign slogan is in Taiwanese English, then perhaps getting a native Taiwanese English speaker would be better than getting a native American English speaker.

Until you've shown that the campaign slogan is intended to be in American (or British or Australian...) English, you haven't yet given reason for hiring native American (or British or Australian...) English speakers.

Jonas said...

While foreign perceptions are not all-important in Taiwan, they still matter very much. Why do you think that Ma expends so much effort at telling both Taiwanese AND the US that he will not be a troublemaker like big bad Chen?

Yes, foreign image is important. It's absolutely crucial that Taiwanese voters think that the next President can maintain good relations with the US.

I don't think they think the campaign slogan influences this relationship one tiny bit. And they're right about that.

If the English-looking slogan sounds nice to the Taiwanese voters, that it's a good slogan.

Well, this point is apparently not obvious to many others. I'm happy to be pointing out true things.

Anonymous said...

Slightly O/T from today's TT:

“Tsai’s denial of the existence of the ‘1992 consensus’ shows that she cannot face reality...” Ma said.

~ And to think there are people in Taiwan that vote for such a lying sack of shit. When they finally wake up, it will be too late.

Anonymous said...

Slightly O/T from today's TT:

“Tsai’s denial of the existence of the ‘1992 consensus’ shows that she cannot face reality...” Ma said.

~ And to think there are people in Taiwan that vote for such a lying sack of shit. When they finally wake up, it will be too late.

Anonymous said...

I think "Taiwan - Taiwanese" would be a great slogan.

Anonymous said...

I think that "Taiwan - Taiwanese"
would be a excellent slogan It reminds everyone that Taiwan is made up of Taiwanese people with different culture, history, democracy, thinking and customs then Chinese people.

Anonymous said...

Jonas says: I'm happy to be pointing out true things.

I don't know about others, but I feel much safer and happier in Taiwan now that Jonas points us towards the Truth.

Thomas said...

If something that sounds clunky at first may come to sound familiar, why not "Taiwan NEXT"?

Nope. Don't buy it. You can't equate a phrase that becomes popular precisely because it is clunky and mocking of another group of people to a phrase that is not popular and clunky. You need the popularity for the familiarity to build over time. And there is nothing to indicate that Taiwan NEXT is going to be an expression that is so desirable as to become popular -- not that thinking ahead decades about a political slogan meant to be used for just one year is necessarily a productive exercise.

In fact, you seem to be guilty of thinking in open-ended counterfactuals. Along this line of argumentation, who can disagree with you? As my mother used to tell me when I asked her if there were ghosts, "Nothing is impossible."

Hey, if Lady Gaga starts to mix up her tenses tomorrow, one day, everyone might do so because Lady Gaga is cool. Hey, if Monica Lewinsky starts a line of Hello sexy Bill lingerie tomorrow, we won't be giving it a thought in 30 years because it will be so familiar after decades in which women would greet themselves with "Hello sexy Bill" at parties while wearing their panties on their heads.

I'm sure you are right and Taiwan NEXT will become so popular within a few decades that it will sound common. But that might not help Tsai in an election that is less than one year away -- which is kind of the point here, isn't it?

Thoth Harris said...

Tsaiwan!

Anonymous said...

"Taiwan is our core interest!"

Readin said...

I'm late, but I just have to add this one:

Taiwan, Hope, Change!

Readin said...

The concerns about having foreigners help with the campaign because it would look bad seems like a legitimate concern, but if the help is limited to coming up with an English slogan, then wouldn't Taiwanese people recognize the logic of that? Hiring foreigners to manipulate the locals is one thing. But an English slogan is, or at least appears to be, directed at foreigners. If you want to show you have what it takes to deal with foreigners, you would look pretty stupid passing up foreign help! Wouldn't you want to elect a President who has the good sense to use foreigners to help her manipulate other foreigners?

Also, the problem would be somewhat mitigated if the foreigners involved were long-time residents who would have become citizens long ago if the law allowed it.

Michael said...

Michael Turton says:
"I mean, look at politicians in western nations. They never hire professional campaign staff, nor do they consult ad agencies or marketing professionals. And look at multinational corporations in foreign lands -- they never hire staff with skills in the local languages and cultures."

--

You are assuming that Tsai wants to copy western nations' practices.

Also, I'm sorry if I came off as offensive in my previous comment. I was just voicing my surprise because normally you come off as very culturally sensitive.

Michael said...

Thoth Harris says:
"Tsaiwan!"

--

Love it!

Might I suggest: "TsaiWins for Tsaiwan!"

Tim Maddog said...

Check out this Taiwan NEXT (現在決定未來) video, and see if you feel any differently about the slogan.

Tim Maddog

Robert R. said...

... and now you can see the logo that goes with the slogan.

To me, it looks like "Oh, you're looking for Taiwan? That's next door..."

Anonymous said...

Why are we using English slogan in our Presidential election in the first place?

SeattleWatcher said...

No one has mentioned that Tsai went to Cornell and the LSE. My ABC guess is that she has that whole English thing pretty well figured out.