Tell me what you’re thinking

“How do we know what Tsai is thinking, when even she herself does not know?” asks Ma Ying-jeou. I pondered this long and hard, settled on telepathy, but figured that wouldn’t work either, so I gave up.

Questioning a rival’s consistency is of course a staple of campaign discourse everywhere, but it is something that DPP candidates have to deal with more often than their KMT counterparts. No doubt due to the party’s looser organizational structure, which necessitates more in-party horse-trading and compromises than in the KMT (which was/is quasi-Leninist), DPP candidates have to show greater flexibility in their positions (no excuse for flip-flopping though).

During Chen Shui-bian’s re-election campaign, the KMT/PFP ran a fantastic ad mocking his changeability (but ignored the fact that the Blue-held legislature wouldn’t pass any of his party’s bills so he didn’t really have a choice). I remember it particularly for the demonstration of the subtleties of the Chinese language.

Bian bian bian

On a similar note, Ma’s slogan 台灣加油讚 is a very efficient use of words. Unfortunately it translates to “Go Taiwan, Bravo!”  which is corny, and frankly a bit odd. But as a play on min nan speakers’ pronunciation of 加油站(gas station) it rolls off the tongue very easily. And 讚 is a min nan word, which gained mainstream popularity as an alternative to the more staid, and less local 棒 (both approximate ‘awesome’).  I’ll have a post very soon about how ‘Taiwan something’ (Taiwan first, Taiwan next, Taiwan number one etc) became the norm for slogans.  This one achieves quite a lot, particularly given that Ma would like to reach out to voters in the south.

Do you think adding another character would make this more appealing to southern voters?

Mail me at jonathan.sullivan@nottingham.ac.uk, follow me on Twitter @jonlsullivan, or access my published and working papers at http://jonlsullivan.com

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