Subway Firewall Ads

30 Nov 2010

I noticed these ads recently in the subway. They’re sponsored by the Shanghai fire department. It makes sense to want to raise fire safety awareness in light of the recent tragic fire, but I don’t really get the whole “firewall” thing. Like in English, the Chinese term 防火墙 seems to be used primarily in the IT industry these days.

Firewall in the Subway

Firewall in the Subway

P.S. My dictionary says “firewall” is another word for “Chinese wall.” Hmmm.

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John Pasden

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

Comments

  1. Perhaps they are trying to convey the message,

    “Don’t talk about fires or we’ll firewall it off the internet”…

    tee-hee tee-hee

  2. Um.. what do they want us to do? Respect the wall? Appreciate the wall? Brick appreciation day?

    *scratches head

    Oh.. “Be safe”. Like, uh, “you too can prevent forest fires”? I guess, but, didn’t the whole fire happen because developers slashed costs to squeeze a few extra RMB out of the project?

  3. I guess this is yet another case of how Homer Simpson would deal with things. “I’m the safety inspector. I tell people to safen up.”

  4. Acturaly, “防火墙” sponsored by fire department means a consciousness of taking precautions against fire. It is not related to the firewall in IT industry, and it is not a real wall.

    • Makes sense.

      How do you know that?
      Where did you find this piece of information?

      • Sorry, I think the best answer is that “防火墙” means both consciousness and measures of taking precautions against fire.
        I know the meaning, beacause I am chinese. In fact, the usage of “防火墙” on the ad is not so good (at least I think it is), it will make people confused. However,the usage has no problem, “防火墙”(firewall)here is like the Greatwall, to defend fire(en) and protect ourselves. Similar situation, government used “众志成城” to encourage people fighting against SARS together.

    • Thanks for the input. I figured it was something like that, but just haven’t seen this usage of 防火墙 anywhere before. What’s your experience?

      • Sorry, I think the best answer is that “防火墙” means both consciousness and measures of taking precautions against fire. I know the meaning, beacause I am chinese. In fact, the usage of “防火墙” on the ad is not so good (at least I think it is), it will make people confused. However,the usage has no problem, “防火墙”(firewall)here is like the Greatwall, to defend fire(enemy) and protect ourselves. Similar situation, government used “众志成城” to encourage people fighting against SARS together.
        “城” is not a real city or city wall, just a consciousness.

  5. Hi John,

    I had a quick question not all too related to the post (though it does have to do with the Chinese firewall). I’ve been using a VPN to update my blog, which is hosted for free on WordPress.com (blocked in China). As someone who has been blogging in China for a while, do you think there’s any danger in posting something critical of the Chinese government (in English) on that blog (which can’t be accessed in China anyway)? Just want to make sure before posting anything that could get me in trouble.

    Thanks!
    Alex

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