Sunday, December 23, 2007


This isn't so much "Shenme the H: Taiwan" as "Shenme the H: Kids"

3rd grade Ping Pong Class (yes, there is a separate class for the ping pong kids) drawing.

Somewhere out there, there is an angry mouse king with a grass-colored fire-breathing dinosaur chasing you and your sibling. Somewhere out there, evil is just waiting on the playground.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"No Child Left Behind!"

It's common to trade soundbytes and catchphrases from one culture to another, however, as the label under this school motto indicates, social and political connotations don't really carry over.

This was taken at SinSheng Elementary School in Yilan City, Yilan County.

See bottom left of photo:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Little Chicken's Wooly Mammoth

This piece of artwork is framed in the Yilan County Teacher's Center. The grade is not listed, but compared to the work around my Elementary school, I would peg this at the 3-4th grade level.

The captions read as follows, left to right (disputes on my translations welcome).

有小雞雞的長毛象 - "Has Little Chicken's Wooly Mammoth"
沒有小雞雞的長毛象- "Doesn't Have Little Chicken's Wooly Mammoth"
小雞雞-"Little Chicken"
小姐姐-"Little (Big) Sister"

The artist named the boy Chicken, his parts a "Wooly Mammoth", then drew two Wooly Mammoths (one in hat and scarf) with the corresponding parts.

Think of the implications of eternal return in this picture. The existence of a penis on a boy, and the absence of a penis, result in the literal manifestation of a figurative label for the genitalia. This manifestation produces its own binary, "wooly mammoth with a wooly mammoth" and "wooly mammoth without", a division which not only does not answer the sad question on 小雞雞's face, but demands further figurative representation (how do you represent a wooly mammoth's wooly mammoth and the absence of a wooly mammoth's wooly mammoth?).

小姐姐's left-dominant smile and lazy eye paint a picture of contented ignorance. I love 小雞雞's confused look. He seems a little jealous.

Monday, December 10, 2007

”Don't randomly touch emergency valve!"

80 sends this photo of a warning not to "randomly" touch the emergency valve.

The adverb in Chinese is 隨意 (sui2yi4) which means to do "as one pleases".

Clearly one shouldn't go about hitting emergency buttons at will, or "as one pleases" (Wenlin v3.3.6), but randomly? Randomly means "done without method or conscious decision" (OED), a condition clearly negated by a self-willed move to do "as one pleases."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Define Marijuana, Please

These Happy Go Lucky Western lookin' kids grace the back cover of a Chinese Dictionary designed for students.

They're playing the recorder, a popular instrument here (all the kids in our school take their recorders to music class).

But why does the music look like a cloud of smoke? And why are the rising clouds green? And why are the kid's eyes who's playing (smoking) now seem glazed over? And his friend, giggling like baked, I'd say. It's perfectly innocent. Most kids here certainly have no context for a drug reference. And I'm sure it was designed completely unintentionally. But still...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"Hear Beautiful Sounds of Advertisements"

My coteacher recommended playing this for 308, an overly energetic classroom that has trouble staying seated during class.

All I could think about was how much my mother hates the background noise of television commericals.

The translation at the bottom of the CD really doesn't gel with the rainforest photo on the cover.

Although, truth be told I am curious to hear the FIAT-ALL NEW PANDA edit of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" or the theme for the HONDA ALL NEW ACCORD.

Shenme the H?

Story behind the blog: You can read about life and (frequently skewed) insights on my life in Taiwan at this other blog. Please do. Maybe some pretty pictures too.

This blog's for things that have made me, turn my head, ask "come again?", smile, or perhaps exclaim "Shenme the H?!?" Most frequently this will be (mis)use of English on clothing, signs, etc., funny pictures and cartoons (love the toons here - even construction sight warnings are friendlier), or those self-explanatory head-turning items.

Story behind the name: Half English, Half Chinese expression from coworkers. "Shenme" is pinyin for 甚麼/什麼/什么 or "what" in Chinese. You fill in the "H". Trust me, there be reasons aplenty to say this on a regular basis.

"Shenme the H?" is a borrowed expression, like every funny and unfunny thing I've said in my life (outside the rare creative recant of something that did/didn't happen to me during the day).