Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beijing's Ambassadors


I got into the taxi this morning and saw this new sign on the dashboard.

It says "I am smile messenger" with the Olympic logo at the bottom left and some pictograms of some of the sports that will be showcased in 2008.

I remarked to the taxi driver this was the first time I'd seen this sign and asked him what it meant. "I'm a smile messenger," he said, repeating the mantra.

"Do you know how to speak English?" I asked him in Chinese.

"No... only a few words," was his reply... with a smile.

I jokingly asked him if he was practicing his smiles, as I've heard that volunteers for next year's Games have been told to train their mouth muscles to smile several hours a day.

He didn't know what I meant.

First of all, if a taxi has this sign, particularly in English, I would expect the driver to be able to speak some English, not a few words.

Second, the brilliant team behind this ambassadorial campaign didn't get a native English speaker to polish the tag line...

So close... yet not quite.

1 comment:

ks said...

all good manners start from the self. family is the basic unit where social attitudes and manners are nurtured. decades ago the communist rhetoric::" not to love pa pa , not to love ma ma, only love country" is reaping its harvest of antagonism and mistrust . it takes time to reverse the damage that has been done.