Last night I heard from friends on Sina Weibo that Google Plus was unblocked and there is a Chinese carnival on Barack Obama’s G+ page, where we can do our favorite online activities such as 抢沙发 （”occupying sofa”－being the first in the comment roll ), and刷屏 （”swiping screen”-creating a sea of comments that flood the whole page). I immediately went to my G+ account, which I haven’t used since I opened it last year, and added Obama to my circle of “family”. Wow, under the first post I saw on Obama’s page dated Feb.24, 90% of the 500 comments are in Chinese, and a significant amount of the rest are in Chinglish. I have not seen a virtual party so wild since the April of 2010 when we climbed over the Great Firewall to follow the twitter of Aoi Sola (Japanese AV star).
BBC actually reported on this phenomenon already, but its misinterpretation of the Chinese comments has itself become a source of amusement for Chinese netizens. The BBC article says, “they talked about occupying the furniture and bringing snacks and soft drinks.” Obviously the reporters had no idea what “occupying sofa” means in Chinese Internet Language, which is the frontier of linguistic innovation. The folks at China Internet Watch tried to help out and explained:“occupying sofa” is a common behavior often in online forums trying to be the first to leave a comment or reply. Imagine many friends visit you at your house, the first ones arrived can take the sofa (which is more comfortable), those who are a bit late have to take the chairs, and the ones come last have only the floor to sit on”.
But most of my friends found the misunderstanding so funny that they excitedly gathered more people to occupy the Obama page and say more nonsense to further confuse the poor translators of Western media.
Anyway I feel that some of the Chinese comments are so good that they deserve good English translation. Here are some of my favorite comments:
－Good afternoon Mr. President, I just come here to chill.
－Don’t fight with me, this is the last available space! Advertisers interested in renting this space please contact me.
－How to tell if a girl is a virgin by looking at her thigh…
－The one above me is a very very bad person.
－People behind me, keep your line straight!
－For Sale, Canon 60D+17-55mm f2.8 Lense…
－Tour group from Huadong University blowing by.
－This is such a historical moment! Have you guys had dinner?
－Mr. President, I’d like to order some food. The people behind me will pay.