When John recently designed a “please speak Chinese” T-shirt, I was immediately tempted to buy one. I always love it when locals talk to me in Chinese, instead of trying to use English first.
Putting this on a shirt worn by a foreigner is cool on multiple levels. Not only does it demonstrate that the foreigner can speak Chinese, but it is also a play on a PRC campaign that used the exact same line to encourage the Chinese to use Mandarin as opposed to Cantonese or any other local dialects. The only problem is that the shirt would be weird to wear in Taiwan. Nobody here uses the phrase 普通话, or even simplified characters for that matter.
As usual, John had a great idea that was in serious need of some Taiwan-ification. That’s where TC came in. He reminded me that there’s a completely analogous phrase that was plastered all over Taiwan for decades. It was even used for the same reason- getting Taiwanese people to speak in Mandarin instead of the Minnan, or “Taiwanese” dialect.
I decided on the spot that it was time to design a Speak Mandarin shirt that can be worn with pride on either side of the strait. And in TC’s honor, I made one more shirt fitting for a foreigner who actually became Taiwanese.
(Readers have pointed out that former president Lǐ Dēnghuī introduced this phrase 新台灣人. Later, Mǎ Yīngjiǔ, a Hong Kong man by birth, gained popularity in proclaiming himself to be “New Taiwanese”.)
You can see a full list of my designs at the newly created Toshuo Shop.