NASA’s Greatest Accomplishment Only Deserving of Chinese Toilets

NASA’s Greatest Accomplishment Only Deserving of Chinese Toilets

As the world this weekend recognises the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, so too will many a Chinese man ponder over the historical significance, but perhaps only when paying a visit to a public toilet.

The Chinese have a big thing for civilisation. Partly on account of the country being one of the world’s oldest civilisations, but also as a means of instilling preconceived ideas of publicly-acceptable behaviour in her citizens.

Thus, in the bulk of Chinese public lavatories, above each urinal can be found the following charming and poetic exhortation for men to move a little closer, one that is also a play on words of Neil’s Armstrong’s historic quote, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Rendered in Chinese as, “这是个人的一小步,却是人类的一大步”, and after a little fiddling around, linguists in the Middle Kingdom’s Bureau of Sanitation came up with, “上前一小步  文明一大步”, which translates as, “One small step forward [for man], one giant leap for civilisation”.

Of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and various other English translations of the phrase are to be found all over China. In-depth research of Chinese public facilities nationwide has revealed the two next most widely employed to be, “Please aim carefully”, together with the inspired and much under appreciated, “A step closer helps keep it cleaner”.

While it is true that great civilisations are based on access to the urinals; the Romans knew this when they built the aqueducts; on 20 July, 1969, Armstrong himself would have had no clue as to the future impact of his words on the urinary habits of half a billion Chinese men.

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Frank Hossack
Editor-in-chief and Music Critic, Frank Hossack, has been a radio host and producer for the past 34 years, the past 25 of which working in media in China, in the process winning four New York Festivals awards for his work, in the categories Best Top 40 Format, Best Editing, Best Director and Best Culture & The Arts. 贺福是我们杂志的编辑和音乐评论员,在过去的34年里一直从事电台主持和电台制片的工作。在中国有近25年的媒体工作经验。工作期间他曾经四次获得过纽约传媒艺术节大奖,分别是世界前40强节目奖,最佳编辑奖,最佳导演奖以及最佳文化艺术奖。