Weight Loss Pun #2

05 Mar 2006

I noticed this one a while ago (sometime after Weight Loss Pun #1), once again on the back of the passenger seat in a taxi:

> 双层紧肤吸脂,满足小“腰”求。

It’s an ad for “double layer” “tight skin” liposuction, which is supposed to meet your “little waist requirement.” (Yes, it’s a horrible translation, I know, but it’s a pun, so I don’t really see how I can do a good job.)

So the pun is on the words 小要求 (“little demand”) and 小腰 (“little waist”).

At least for these two cases of weight loss treatments, the puns are terribly obvious because the punned characters are in quotation marks each time. Would too many people not get them otherwise? Oh well… it helps us foreigners get them a little more easily, at least.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. How are us laowai to know that there aren’t other puns out there that don’t use quotes? Maybe we just miss them.

  2. That’s the thing – even the most obvious puns have quotation marks – it’s often as if the copy writers thing that readers won’t get the pun if it isn’t pointed out in large type – there’s really little else out there that’s more subtle.

  3. if people don’t get the pun, they regard the pun as mistyped characters. you know ?Since there are too many charactes having the same sound, and even similar elements, see the two “yao”s, it’s easier for native Chinese to type write wrong Chinese too.

  4. I’d probably just translate that with a parallel pun, something like “Double-layer liposuction: stop being waistful.” Lame, but then so is the original…

  5. That’s definitely not a bad one Brendan. I tried to translate an English pun into Chinese and I failed :
    Real Chocolate, no more Chalkolet ! ( calsium enriched drink )
    Too bad to convernted it.. since in China calsium has its Chinese name but chocolate was translated by sounds. >.< …. ai ya ~~~~~~~~

  6. Brendan,

    You get a hearty groan from me on that one.

    I guess the question is: is it better to translate a lame pun as an even lamer pun, or to lose the pun entirely?

  7. Depends on intent, of course: are you trying to cause the reader the same pain that you experienced upon seeing the original, or just to alert them to the existence of a dodgy nosejob clinic?

  8. Just a note that “No more Chalkolet” can be easily cast as “No more Chalk o’ lait” or Chalkolait
    …,

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