New Beijing, New Olympics

I saw someone wearing a t-shirt (picture) today that read, in English, “Tibet in China, Torch in Heart”. The Chinese, however, read “振兴中华,反对分裂”, which means something like “Revitalize China, Oppose Separatism”.

The Chinese was not presented as a translation of the English, but it’s interesting to think about how the designer of the t-shirt (or the originator of the slogan) thought about how to present the message in different ways to English-speaking and Chinese-speaking audiences. The English message is certainly “fluffier”.

I’m sure there are many examples of similar situations, but the only one that comes to mind right now is one of the Olympic slogans that has been plastered over Beijing for the last few years: New Beijing, Great Olympics. The Chinese version of the slogan (the Chinese and English often appear together) is “新北京,新奥运”, which means “New Beijing, New Olympics”. I’ve always wondered if BOCOG tried and failed to get “New Olympics” approved by the IOC as an English slogan, and whether the IOC approved using “New Olympics” in Chinese. I’m sure there’s an interesting backstory there, but I’ve never seen it written up.

(Update: Apparently, “New Beijing, Great Olympics” is not a slogan but a strategic concept.)

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