Ain’t No Half Steppin’, continued

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It’s the slogan that has launched countless interpretations and translations. Yesterday we mentioned the difficulty people in China are having reaching a consensus on what President Hu Jintao meant last month when he used the phrase “bu zheteng” (不折腾). Perhaps that’s the sign of a good slogan. Both everyone and no one knows what it means. C.A.Yeung of the Under the Jacaranda Tree blog comments:

…when the expression is used in local government slogans, 不折腾 is usually equated with 不争论, as in 坚持在不争论中发展、在不折腾中前进. In other words it has something to do with “not upsetting the status quo”. So in this context, “Ain’t No Half Stepping” is probably a good translation, particularly when we listen carefully to the lyric …

… or for a sexy alternative, try “Stop Messing Around”. This is quite appropriate too, considering the sexual connotation of the expression…

I foresee one small drawback with “Stop Messing Around.” If you want to put it to music, you’d have to go with the marginal Gary Moore blues rock tune of the same title. But with the simple addition of a possessive adjective, you get “Stop Your Messing Around,” a lyric from one of the best ska songs ever.

One a slightly more serious note, there’s a British government slogan from World War II that could also serve as a good translation—”Keep Calm and Carry On.” The phrase was little used during the war, but now a company in Surrey is putting it on T-shirts, hoodies, coffee cups, cufflinks and just about everything else you can sell. Sort of like “Serve the People.” Just think, someday you can get your own “bu zheteng” satchel. Its meaning might still be a bit of a mystery though.

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