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Don't Forget to Flush...


Anyone with experience living amongst the Mainland Chinese knows that flushing the toilet after use isn't exactly a deeply ingrained habit. Thus the need for reminders from time to time in order to educate the local populace in the civilised way of doing things. This humorous little notice was stuck to the wall of the men's toilet where I used to work. Just to make sure it was not missed, the message was stuck on the wall in front of the er... user and also behind the toilet above the flush tank.


The reminder comes courtesy of Micky Mouse and features a mixture of simplified and traditional characters, some of them incorrect. Literally translated, the meaning is as follows (characters all given in simplified form):

Chinese Literal meaning Free Version
lái yě cōngcōng
Come also in a hurry Come in a great hurry
qù yě chōng chōng
Go also flush flush Flush when you leave
wàng le chōng chōng
Forgot to flush flush If you forget to flush
chòuqì chōng chōng
Stink attack The stink will attack

The first line is a fairly standard expression in Chinese, being found in all kinds of context, including, predictably enough, love songs.

The fun in this little jingle lies in the repetition of cōngcōng or chōng chōng at the end of each line. Actually, it sounds better when spoken by a South Chinese, because unlike the people of Beijing, people in the South don't distinguish between cōngcōng and chōng chōng -- every line ends in cōngcōng.

This verse is written in a mixture of traditional and simplified characters. Without wishing to spoil the fun, it should be pointed out that the traditional character 衝 is the wrong character to use (see photo). In traditional characters, the correct character is 沖. The reason for the confusion, of course, is the fact that both 衝 and 沖 have been simplified to 冲, and many people on the Mainland are not sure which is the correct traditional character to use.

For more about toilet-wall slogans, see also Neil Armstrong and Chinese Urinals.

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