© 2009 Steven Wong

And now for something completely different… 1.0

… whereby i bring you random thoughts and opinions just because I can.

I don’t really have a comment about the photo above, except to say that when I saw it, I knew I had to take a picture of it. I mean, seriously… isn’t it obvious by now that all companies in China (well, all non-English speaking countries, but especially in China) need to have an English language quality control officer? Who would name their brand “Bimbo”?!?

Anyway, this post is less about funny instances of Chinglish (as entertaining as they are) and more about posting a couple links that I’ve come across recently that I’d like to share. I hope this will be a fairly regular event, but we never really know what I’m capable of doing on a regular basis, now do we?

One of my favourite blogs is Spacing, a Toronto-based blog and magazine that focuses on new urbanism in the T-dot, particularly on design and planning. There was a recent post about a Swedish design team that tried to prove that you can change people’s behaviours through fun. That is, make something fun to do, and they’ll do it more often than something that isn’t fun.

It’s a simple and compelling idea, and from their Youtube videos on the piano stairs and the recycling bin game, it appears to be quite successful. My only quibble is that it’s hard to draw confident conclusions based on one day of data gathering – people generally have short attention spans, so maybe the results are just based on people’s curiosity.

My cousin Henry sent me an email yesterday about this article in the New York Times, describing the rise of Mandarin and the corresponding fall of Cantonese as the dominant language in New York’s Chinatown. It’s a good read, and anecdotally, completely true.

I first noticed this phenomenon when I was living in Germany. Most of the Chinese restaurants (the ones you could find, and trust me, there weren’t many in Aachen) were Cantonese speakers, and I could go days without ever seeing another Chinese person. After a couple years though, an influx of Mandarin-speaking students from mainland China were everywhere. I didn’t even bat an eye anymore when I spotted a fellow yellow.

The change in language is true for Toronto as well as New York. Just head to Pacific Mall or any other Chinese-dominant locale and you’ll start hearing as much Mandarin as Cantonese. I won’t go as far as to say it’s a dying language though.