SingFirst slogan’s Tamil translation is gibberish

From ‘SingFirst makes translation gaffe on campaign slogan banner’, 29 Aug 2015, article in Today

Its newly-launched campaign slogan was emblazoned in the four official languages across a large banner, which was used as a backdrop at a press conference to introduce its election candidates — but the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) Party had botched the Tamil translation.

What was supposed to say its Restore Our Nation slogan ended up being gibberish, made up of non-existent Tamil characters. The party was notified about the gaffe after the press conference held at the party office on Tras Street.

When contacted, SingFirst secretary-general Tan Jee Say acknowledged the error, but pointed to the printer the party had commissioned to do up the banner. “It was done by the printer, and I don’t speak Tamil so we just went with it. We took the printer’s word for it,” Mr Tan said, without naming the printer.

Asked whether SingFirst has members who know Tamil and could have spotted the error in the first place, Mr Tan said “it was not convenient (to do so), so we just went ahead”. He added: “We will rectify (the error) for (tomorrow’s) press conference.”

Lest we forget, Tan Jee Say used to be a presidential candidate, and here he’s blaming a printer for a shitty translation. Back then, his campaign slogan was ‘Heart of the Nation’. Well clearly his heart was in the wrong place when it comes to proofreading an official language. Time to Restore your Banner before you do anything to our country, boss.

Tamil is a notoriously difficult language to translate. For instance, even the STB messed up the translation of Lau Pa Sat on a street sign for tourists. Thankfully, SingFirst’s error turned out to be mere gibberish. The STB’s version of Lau Pa Sat was interpreted as a swear word. If it had been the latter, Jee Say’s party can, well, Sing their way Home.

Party slogans are trite soundbites embodying the ‘mission and vision’ of its members, and ring hollow most of time because they’re either too vague, or too idealistic. I believe Singaporeans are mature enough voters to judge candidates not by their seductive catchphrases but by their ideas and attitudes. It remains to be seen if we get swayed by pretty faces (Nicole, Kevyrn *wink wink*)or the design of their party shirts.

SingFirst believes that the nation is in deep shit, and needs to a reboot. Well it probably is if we can’t even ensure that one of our four languages is legible. It’ll take more than Wall’s Ice Cream to lift us out of our current predicament though.

Here’s a rundown of the most audacious slogans in Singapore’s election history.

  1. DOWN WITH THE ONE PARTY RULE – SDA, 2006

This was the brainchild of veteran Opposition MP Chiam See Tong. More a defiant rally cry than a slogan, it does describe in essence what all Opposition parties attempt to do, and a very ‘oppositional’ slogan indeed. You can imagine shouting this with one fist raised, and the other holding a sickle or some other agricultural tool.

2. I HAMMER – DO YOU? WP, 2004

Well technically this was a slogan contest entry and not an official slogan. But the fact that the WP actually held one, with amazing prizes in store like a $20 NTUC voucher and a 45th anniversary party MUG, just goes to show how important slogans mean to them. How about a Thor figurine, Sylvia?

3. THE NEW POOR – WP, 2001

This is clearly misleading. Surely there are no poor people in Singapore! Are there? Also, it’s merely describing a select group of people, not advocating action. Maybe it should have been ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY’ instead.

4. MORE GOOD YEARS – PAP, 1988

Child-like optimism Goh Chok Tong Style. Though on hindsight it pretty much described himself because today he’s still running the show in Marine Parade GRC.

5. SAVE DEMOCRACY NOW! DENY THEM TWO THIRDS – SDP, 1988

Another Chiam See Tong creation, this ranks among the longest election slogans ever. Also, it has an exclamation mark smack in the middle of it. You can’t even say it without feeling a tad pissed off.

6. STOP THE PAP – WP, SDP, 1984

Straight to the point, but ultimately useless for the next 30 odd years.

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