The NPR had an interesting story on 50 slogans put out by the Communist Party to “get people in the mood for the big celebration.”
Jeffrey Wasserstrom of China Beat (who we’ve featured on the site once or twice) clarified:
The Western eye might see the slogans as blatant propaganda, but Wasserstrom says the Chinese see it more like an advertisement.
“Propaganda is simply making the case for the kind of product you have to sell — whether it’s a candidate or it’s a policy, or whether it’s something to buy,” he says. That doesn’t differ much from American public service announcements or the “Courage, pass it on” billboards that sprouted around the nation after the 9/11 attacks, he points out.
Most of the slogans are a little bit longer than the infamous “为人民服务” (wei ren ming fu wu – Serve the People), and the translations NPR offers sound particularly CCTV9-ish, such as “Warmly celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China!” and “Adhere to the one China policy and promote the country’s great cause of peaceful reunification!”
Our favorite NPR babelfishing by far was “Adhering to and improving the system of regional autonomy by ethnic minorities, so as to consolidate and develop socialist relations among different ethnic groups based on equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony,” which was so convoluted and strange that we felt the need to seek out the original Chinese version. Turns out it’s this:
(jianchi he wanshan mingzuqu yu zizhi zhidu, gonggu he fazhan pingdeng tuanjie huzhu hexie de she hui zhuyi mingzu guanxi)
Which, if we were to translate it, would be more along the lines of “Uphold and perfect the ethnic minority autonomy regional system, consolidate and develop an equal, united, and harmonious society based on mutual ethnic aid.” Sure, it’s still not the catchiest thing to recite and it’s earnest enough to be snicker worthy, but the slogan also is nowhere near as clumsy as what we got from NPR. Trying to exoticize China much, guys?
Check out the actual Chinese slogans here. We bet you can come up with more sensible translations yourselves.