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Posts Tagged ‘fridge lingo’

Food, Glorious Food

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Some updates on what we’re up to, as its been a little quiet on the blog recently.
We’re currently working on Set #3 of our Fridge Lingo fridge magnets.

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll note that Set #3 is about Food. Hence the “Food, Glorious Food” title 🙂
Given the lack of feedback from clients, this one is another lets just see how it goes style production.

Our initial topics added are 水果 (Fruit), 菜 (Vegetables), 饮料 (Drinks), 香料 (Spices), 量词 (Measure Words) and other 常用的 (Basics) like 牛奶(Milk), 鸡蛋(Eggs) and 米饭(Rice).

We’d love some comments, suggestions, or even photo’s of our sets in use on your Fridge, or other surfaces.

We got interviewed by Urbanatomy!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

We got interviewed by Urbanatomy (the people doing That’s Shanghai these days) for an upcoming article.  Warm thanks to Panthea Lee for hooking us up!

When I spot the article, I’ll scan it and post it also!

My Q&A’s below:

Do you have a personal story behind the product? Any situations in the past or in general that really made you wish you spoke more Chinese?

I’ve had plenty of situations where I wished I spoke more Chinese!

The most memorable example I have is this one –
The first week I arrived here in late 94, my then boss took us for a night on the town, which in those days consisted of Long Bar, the infamous JJ’s,  New York New York (complete with smoking room), Casablanca etc.
Some time during the night he snuck off, leaving me stuck at 3am with no idea where I was!
I had no real idea where I lived at that time either, so I hopped into the first cab I saw, and after driving around aimlessly for 20 minutes or so, the driver decided to take me to the airport.  These were the days prior to the gaojia – we only had the outer ringroad, so it took a while. Eventually at around 5am we passed a familiar landmark (the Rainbow / Galaxy hotels), and I stopped the car and got out.   I sat in the lobby for about 3 hours until our office opened, so I could call and ask for someone to come help me get home.  Interesting times…

Whats the story behind Fridge Lingo?

We’re selling the magnet sets at our iWantOne website.   That website started out as an outlet for our badges.
The badges themselves started out from a post on LPCoverLover via a sighting on BoingBoing.  (more on this at our Computer Solutions blog here – http://www.computersolutions.cn/blog/2009/04/random-semi-interesting-thing/ )

A quick trip to taobao, and we had a badge machine, and lots of idea’s.
These quickly culminated in my staff going nuts over snoopy badges, and my prompting them for cool stuff for foreigners (foreigners are suckers for cultural revolution related artwork).

We quickly got bored doing that, and moved onto cool phrases.
Coffee at Moganshan lu led to a brainstorming session about cool ways to promote Shanghainese (an under promoted language imho), and a whole set of cool phrases.

One of our clients (the lovely Jenny @ Redgate China) asked me why we didn’t put an English translation on the badges as well. Which, to be honest, I’d thought about, but as I’m a pretentious I can speak Chinese better than you so nya nya kind of foreigner, didn’t want to do. Plus it also meant remaking a bunch of badges, and I’m lazy.
*Pick one of the above for the correct answer.

It did lead me to think, well hey, why don’t I make some magnet word sets like you used to see a few years back when Magnet Poetry was all the craze.

An idea was born…

A few days later, we had our first rough draft of the first magnet set we wanted to make “Talking to your Ayi”, and a few agonizing days later teaching my art team how to use illustrator correctly so I didn’t have to spend over 12 hours redoing their alleged “good” version *again*, we had something we could play around with. This also involved some running with scissors, and lots of small pieces of sharp paper, to put the danger, and comic tragedy of it all into perspective.

A quick round or two with friends, roman’s and countrymen, and we had most of the mistakes corrected also.
Interesting factoid – I could point out more mistakes than the native speakers could.

Even more weeks passed and we had a sample set. Even more weeks x2 later, lots of shouting, changes, and scowling (followed by light rain), we actually had a box design that I liked, and all was good.

This was closely followed by lots of my own money changing hands with dodgy factories in outer godknowswhere, a minor whoops at the factory meaning a reprint, and finally a rather large kuaidi delivery to our office later, I actually had a product in my hands, yay!

Its been rather fun making something that people can buy (or I can throw at the kuaidi guy), instead of our usual intangible products – websites, websites, and more websites.
Does your product help with grammar?

Probably not, is the short answer.

The long answer is, we did put some consideration into what words we used, and what phrases we put in the set, so that people could make sentences that would be syntactically correct, or failing that understandable!
We accomplished this by spending a few days cutting up large segments of what is left of the rain forest (all testing was done on recycled office paper) to ensure that we would be understandable.
It is however, a cool way to look at words and make sentences though, even if the end result is not necessarily grammatically correct.  It does definitely add to understanding why things do or do not work (assuming you have someone looking over your shoulder to correct you!)
How intimate does your “sex in the city” product really go?

We’re not going to be overtly naughty, but we also aren’t going to be innocuous either!
We’re aiming at the happy medium of “naughty but nice”.  This means  phrases like satisfied (man yi /  满意 ) and unsatisfied (bu man yi / 不满意 ) mix in with stuff like Playboy -(hua hua gong zi /  花花公子 ).
I’m also going to be including some modern day idioms -  (Li Yu /  俚语) for my own amusement also.

An example of a modern day idiom is below:
Old cows eat tender grass – “老牛吃嫩草”

You can buy the set to see what that means!

I think we’re probably aiming this one squarely at the male section of the market, although its equally usable for ladies also.

Just curious, are there any phrases that appear in both sets of your product?

Yes, some phrases will appear in different sets, although we’re keeping that to a bare minimum (these are common words like I, We… etc)

How have the magnets been received by your customers? Do they really use them? And are they popular?

We’ve only just started selling them this month, so we haven’t really seen them in actual use yet, other than by myself in the office!
I’m happy with initial sales though – so far we’re selling a few boxes a day online via word of mouth at our http://www.iwantone.cn site.
Pretty much every foreigner that walks into our office has taken a look at our office fridge,  said “Cool idea!”, and buys a set too!

Do you use the magnets yourself?

Aside from misuse of the “Please empty the cat litter” one, I’ll plead the 5th.
I speak to the Ayi in Chinese at home if I’m there when she comes, although she still refers to me as “Lao Wai Xiang Sheng”…

We do leave each other love notes on the fridge though, with missives like “Please buy some toilet paper”, and “Please don’t forget to pay me next week”.
I do look forward to abusing the Sex and the City set though, although I’m not sure I like the ayi *that* much!

I have honestly improved my Chinese in certain area’s though – I finally know how to say ear, boil (water), and cook, as well as other things correctly in Chinese!

What are you working on now?

Online, we have also been busy;  We just launched a Tiny URL clone for China http://liurl.cn last month (for fun, not profit!), that has started to take off.
Smart Shanghai is using it for their Twitter Links, and a couple of Chinese sites appear to be using it (although haven’t officially informed us yet).

We blog about that here – http://blog.liurl.cn

Offline (aka in the real world)

This is our first actual product, and although it was quite a lot more work than I realised,  I’m quite proud of it!
We have plenty of idea’s for our future sets;  Cooking, Shopping and other idea’s have already been bandied around the office.
We’re also looking at working on making Japanese and Korean versions so we can target the other large expat communities in Shanghai.

I’d love to do a Shanghainese set…

People can send us suggestions, corrections, and idea’s at http://www.fridgelingo.com

Thanks for listening.

Additional product shots starring our office fridge

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

We had an email from James @ Shanghaiist asking for some additional product shots of the actual words, so I grabbed my trusty camera, cleared the front of the fridge, and well…  you can see the results below:

(Click each image for a larger version)

Fridge Lingo Magnets in use

Fridge Lingo Magnets in use

Random collection of words from Fridge Lingo :: Set 1 - Talking to the Ayi

Random collection of words from Fridge Lingo :: Set 1 - Talking to the Ayi

Random crap sentence I made up using the Fridge Lingo :: Set 1 - Talking to your Ayi

Random crap sentence I made up using the Fridge Lingo :: Set 1 - Talking to your Ayi

Review up on Smart Shanghai

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Smart Shanghai Fridge Lingo Review

We have our very first press from the boys over at SmartShanghai, who gave us a quick review.

Thanks for the positive feedback guys, and enjoy the Magnets!

Fridge Lingo Introduction

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The Fridge Lingo magnets, are sets of Fridge Magnets with Chinese / English / Pinyin phrases.

Each set has a few hundred words / phrases which you can use to make your own sentences up on the fridge, or on any other metal surface.

Our first available set is “Talking to your Ayi”, and has basic words useful for communicating with the ayi.
That’s available right now at a few outlets around the city (which we’re expanding on), as well as online.

Our second set is “Sex in the City”, which will be released around June 08.

The second set is quite fun – we have words related to dating, and relationships, even some of the naughty ones. Its been great fun thinking up the words for that!

Having trouble communicating?

Talking to your Ayi has Over 200 words and phrases useful for basic household tasks inside!
Our FridgeLingo™ word sets have English, Pinyin and Chinese Characters on each magnet.
Additional phrase sets are also available at http://www.iwantone.cn

Buy "Talking to your Ayi" Now!

Having trouble communicating?

Stuck for words, at a loss for what to say? Improve your Chinese skills with our second, and more risque word set. Ever wondered what how to say golddigger in Chinese?
Do you even know what cuckolded is? (or how to say it in Chinese)
Learn all this, and more with our second set. First few orders come with a special gift ;)

Additional phrase sets are also available at http://www.iwantone.cn

Buy "Sex in the City" Now!

Having trouble communicating?

When you go to the supermarket, when you want call a takeaway, when you want to make a traditional Chinese dish yourself...Don’t be stuck! Use the FridgeLingo™, all will be so easy.
Additional phrase sets are also available at http://www.iwantone.cn

Buy "Food,Glorious Food!" Now!
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