Speak Mandarin organiser cops flak for incorrect use of Mandarin again

Promote Mandarin Council, the organiser of Speak Mandarin Campaign, has drawn flak for using the incorrect Chinese character for one of its campaign banners. This makes it the second time this year for organisers to come under fire for the incorrect use of Mandarin.

Photos of the incorrect tagline have gained traction online. The four Chinese characters on the podium “听,说,渎,写” were meant to directly translate into “listen, speak, read, write”. However, one of the Chinese characters used was inaccurate. Originally meant to be "read" (读), the final Chinese character used ended up to mean "showing disrespect" (渎). Both characters have the same pronunciation "du".

Promote Mandarin Council posted a bilingual Facebook post apologising for the "gravity of this oversight" and that steps will be taken to address the issue. They also added, in Chinese, that they "sincerely apologise" for the error and will be more cautious in future. "While the words sound the same, they do not have similar meanings. This is a learning point for us," the post indicated.

The post has garnered 175 reactions, 155 shares and 144 comments at the time of writing, with many ridiculing the campaign for the erroneous rendering of the Chinese characters and some advising the organisers to double check all campaign collaterals before printing.

In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson for Promote Mandarin Council said it will also put more checks in place to ensure that there is no recurrence of such oversight or mistakes in future.

Earlier this year, the Speak Mandarin Campaign’s Facebook page came under fire by netizens for the incorrect use of descriptive words, or what the group terms as classifiers. The debate was around the use of the words 个 (ge) and 粒 (li) to describe objects such as apples and balls.

In a video looking to explain the different uses of the classifiers, a woman corrects the male character on the use of  “一个” (yi ge) when it came to describing round objects. She tells him the correct use is actually “一粒” (yi li). However, many netizens pointed out that in this context, the man was actually correct and the lady was in fact, in the wrong.

(Photo courtesy: Teo Sum Lim)