Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stick Mosquito Challenges Chinese Ballots

No matter where you come down on the issue of ballots being printed in languages other than English, you have to admit that this is hilarious:

In Mandarin, for instance, [Secretary of State Bill] Galvin said, his own name could be translated either as High Prominent Noble Educated -- or Stick Mosquito.

According to the translators whom Galvin consulted, [Boston Mayor Tom] Menino's name could be read as Imbecile in Chinese. Or Sun Moon Rainbow Farmer. Or, in the worst case scenario for the mayor, Barbarian Mud No Mind of His Own.

[Former Governor Mitt] Romney's name can be seen as Sticky Rice or Uncooked Rice, Galvin said. If former US Senator Fred Thompson jumps into the Republican presidential race, Sticky or Uncooked Rice has the potential of appearing on the March presidential primary ballot in 49 of the Boston's more than 200 precincts, battling with Virtue Soup.
I know there are serious issues about making sure that citizens who are not literate in English are able to vote, while at the same time limiting the potential for shenanigans. Still, I never laughed so hard at a Frank Phillips article.

The obvious solutions are mentioned in the article -- use the transliterations that appear in Chinese-language newspapers or let the candidates pick them themselves (within reason). It seems to me that Stick Mosquito just doesn't want to be bothered with making any accommodations for citizens who only read Chinese.