eBay and Wordplay
11 May 2005
eBay currently has an ad playing on the flatscreen displays of the Shanghai subway system. It shows a series of short Chinese phrases, each followed by a brief illustrative video clip. The phrases are:
– 拍球 (dribbling a basketball)
– 拍瓜 (smashing a cucumber — a typical way to make some cucumber dishes)
– 拍脸 (daubing shaving cream onto a man’s face)
– 拍粉 (powdering a girl’s face)
– 拍被子 (beating the dust out of a quilt)
These images are followed by the phrase “不管你怎么拍… eBay” (“no matter how you 拍… eBay”). I think that’s most of the commercial. I might have missed a little of it, though.
I’m pretty sure the word 拍卖 is never uttered in the commercial. 拍卖 is the obvious 拍 reference — 拍卖 means “auction.” eBay is referring to its various ways to auction items, I suppose.
I find the choice of 拍 objects pretty interesting because none of them are the most common examples. The really common ones would be 拍照 (take a photo) and 拍手 (clap). Of the usages chosen for the commercial, I think I’ve only ever encountered the first: 拍球 (not to be confused with 排球). I think I usually hear 打 used most commonly for the last one.
I also thought it was cool that I could gain a better understanding of the scope of the verb 拍 just by watching a commercial. For me, that sort of understanding is usually gained by discussion with a teacher or tutor.
(Sorry, not trying to be Danwei.org–don’t expect much more of this kind of “news reporting” stuff in the future.)