Thursday, September 17, 2009

Banner Day

Some of you (all of you) may have noticed that I overuse the phrase "it's a banner day." This is because banners (just like ticker-tape parades!) seem like fun, wholesome ways to celebrate outdated accomplishments like moonwalks and ceasefires.

In China, every day is a banner day. For China. Because, no matter where you go, you see signs that look like this:


(I can't really see the first half, but the second half means "promote the construction of a new socialist village". Catchy! Watch out, Don Draper.)

A student at my school was sent home with a possible H1N1 diagnosis (don't worry, mom! I'll be fine), and even though we don't actually have a swine flue banner yet, we do have a large scrolling LCD propaganda machine which was broadcasting swine flu information: "Swine flu is treatable! Swine flu is not to be feared! Discover it early, Report it early, Quarantine it early!". I watch the information scroll and eventually I felt happy and safe.

(Vapid sociolinguistic observation of the day: the Chinese word for propaganda, 宣传, does not have negative connotations. Discuss.)

My favorite slogan I've seen at the school (which isn't actually on a banner, but rather painted onto a building near the track) is “每天锻炼一小时” which means "Exercise for One Hour Daily!", which strikes me less as a slogan and more as a sentence which happens to be fairly good advice. I assume that they decided on this slogan after rejecting "Drinking Water is Useful", "It Might Be a Good Idea to Eat Some Vegetables", and "I'd Put Down Those Potato Chips, If I Were You."