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Nov 26, 2008


I don't know who will care about this post, but I find the topic interesting ...

Several months ago there was a minor uproar when the Ma administration's Economic Minister stated under legislative questioning that "馬上就好," a double entendre which can be read to mean "Things will be good if Ma gets elected" and "Things will immediately be good."

Green sources immediately slammed this as an "admission" that Ma was lying about his governing skillz throughout the campaign (which in fact he was, though the Minister's statement does not mean to indicate that); the Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yin Chi-ming (尹啟銘) quickly reminded people that slogan is a neutral noun, and does not have either positive or negative connotations.

The English slogan comes from the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, 'battle cry.' The Chinese 口號 (kouhao) is, in fact, fairly defined as neutral. And English political slogans rarely have anything to do with a plan of governing.

But an interesting facet to this is that kouhao's use in political reporting is virtually always negative, because it is directly contrasted with action or fulfillment of promises.

For example, view reports from just the last month; I don't think a single political article uses kouhao in a neutral way, though non-political articles do (see below).

Conclusion? It's no surprise people took the Minister's statement to be an admission of guilt, given the political context of the comment, but the minister almost certainly didn't mean it in the way it was interpreted. Let's call it a very poor choice of wording.

看問題/請民進黨當個負責的在野黨,好嗎?!NOWnews - 10小時前

黨政同床異夢團結成口號 自由時報 - 2008年11月22日

地方政府喊出18萬億投資口號遠超地方財力極限 新浪北美 - 2008年11月26日


馬總統高喊2.5產業!法人:方向正確,但執行力是重點 中網理財- 2008年11月26日
也有業者指出:「不知是口號還是會落實。 」

女隊世錦賽口號向男隊學習能否進奧運明年九月揭曉 臺灣新浪網 - 2008年11月22日

上海發佈世博旅遊口號和標識 鉅亨網 - 2008年11月19日


Luke said...

Wow, the etymology of "slogan" is really interesting. Thanks for posting.

阿牛 said...

I hope you're not being sarcastic ... ;)

Luke said...

We don't have online OED access at my school. I miss it -_-