Laiowan ad

… now I saw it! Now I know why my wife’s sister sun and her are dancing around me shouting Laiowan!

It is a comercial for some vegetable drink. A frew kids dance arount with stoneage-clothed half-apes and sing and dance “Laiowan”.
Then a chinese housewife jumps in the scene, reminds the kids they need to drink Dr. Peng’s veggie juice “if you eat at the Laiowan” - if they want to stay healthy. Then all dance happily with the half-apes and sing “Laiowan” drinking the juice. Only saw it with the corner of my eye, but this how it seems to be.

Normally, this does not relate to foreigners. But “Laiowan” is the old word for foreigner which can be interpreted as “Barbarian” right? Normally one should think the half-apes are their chinese ancestors, but no! Seeing half-apes, Taiwan people only think of foreigners (and because of the word) and this makes kids on the street sing “Laiowan” at foreigners.

I think really this is a very subtle form of racism, as it matches the old stereotype “foreigner = hairy monkey” and “only foreigners are the offspring of apes, not Chinese”.

So the commercials teach a lot about the way people think here. But I do not take it too serious, Taiwan people deal with racism and sterotypes in an almost naive childlike-happy way. So okay…

Does anyone of you Mandarin-speaking guys know what “Laiowan” really means? I am learning now, but still at the wo-ni-ta stage …

[quote=“bob_honest”] A frew kids dance arount with stoneage-clothed half-apes and sing and dance “Laiowan”.
Then a Chinese housewife jumps in the scene, reminds the kids they need to drink Dr. Peng’s veggie juice “if you eat at the Laiowan” - if they want to stay healthy. [/quote]
Ridiculous. Aren’t they roasting a boar in the scene? If the Taiwanese ate something approaching a cavemen’s diet instead of the nutritionless crap they do feed on, they wouldn’t be such scrawny runts, and their children’s teeth wouldn’t be rotting out of their heads at the age of four.

Well, at least they aren’t burning crosses on your lawn. Are they?

Lai-o-wan? I’ve never heard that before. :s Or do you mean laowai (lao to rhyme with cow, and wai sounding like “why”)

If you mean laowai, then barbarian is not the correct translation - foreigner is. Lao is usually a deferential form of address, as in laoban (boss) or laoshi (teacher), or laogong (husband). Wai is just an abbreviation of waiguoren - literally "foreigner:.

At my old school (now defunct) my kids used to chant, “Laowai! Laowai! Laowai! Laowai!” and say something in Chinese that I couldn’t understand. I was told it was from a vegetable juice commercial, which I’ve never seen.

I was almost always the one who prompted it, either by answering one of their questions about the school with, “How would I know? I am only laowai,” or by asking them outright to “sing the laowai song.”

They also had a song about various fruits–an apple, a banana, etc.–engaging in different ordinary activities, such as taking a test, going to a dance, buying new clothes, etc., all on different days of the week. I enjoyed that one, too.

They had another one they sang a few times that, if translated into English, would start out something like, "We are all very good friends. . . . "

They also sometimes sang a chant that went “Wo3 shi4 ji1qi4ren2!” (“I am a robot!”) over and over again. The words were all said in the first tone, the way one might imagine a robot saying them. They would accompany this song with imitations of a robot walking.

One day they had a “pronunciation mutiny chant,” over a kid’s name. I’ll call the kid “Rex.” One of the kids pronounced his name Re-ke-si (I’m trying to approximate it in pinyin). I corrected the pronounciation, and one of the kids pronounced it Re-ke-si again, on purpose. Then another kid repeated it, and they all began repeating it: “Re! ke! si! Re! ke! si! Re! ke! si!” Thus, a pronunciation mutiny chant :laughing: Finally I began calling the kid Re-ke-si.


Like Maoman said, Laowai doesn’t mean barabarian at all.

I saw the ad last night.

It’s a play on words. They’re chanting something like “I eat out (wai chi) 3 times a day everyday, so everyone calls me ‘laowai’”.


Heheheh, this commercial has been stuck in my head too. They’re chanting “lao-wai” which we think means foreigner, but in the commercial it means someone who eats out all the time as in “lao3 shi4 dzai4 wai4 mian4 chi1 fan4 (老是在外面吃飯).”

Because cavepeople eat a lot of meat and not enough vegies, that’s why they need to drink this vegie juice!

Not racism.

Thanks for clearing that one up you guys. I’ve seen a number of local commercials where there’s a strong play on words, e.g. some pizza place with the foreigner doing the commercial…wo ba ba er, wo er er… which sounds like the telephone number but also sounds like…my dad is hungry, I’m hungry…or something like that. My Chinese is at best questionable, so please correct me.

ups… Laowai, ok thanks for the info. I must really get back to my mandarin books before I cause more confusion …

I’d just like to add that wai (外) can also mean outside, example 面, 太空 (outter space)…etc.

Agreed - there is nothing racist about this ad.

Apart from that, I would like to comment on the product itself. When you go to the shops, you may notice that there are two mixed fruit and vegetable juices in similar-looking packs - the “caveman” one and another that has “100” written somewhere on the package. The “100” means that it is 100% juice, whereas the “caveman” product contains a considerable portion of sugar and water (as revealed by the small print on the packs). The “caveman” drink is a bit cheaper, but I think you will agree with me that the “100” drink is better value.

“Caveman” manufacturer’s web site:

This one is the Domino’s Pizza ad, right? Heck, I don’t even understand the guy. He’s saying the telephone number too fast! But with his accent, it does sound like “My dad is hungry, I am hungry!” Never thought of that. Subliminal advertising, very clever…egg-zellent… :bravo:

If I am not mistaken, the Pizza ad guy is actually the boss of the pizza company.

Domino’s Pizza Taiwan (Noisy home page! Bilingual web site!)

This web site is a good example of a failure to tie in a web site with other aspects of marketing. They have the clever phone number, but it only appears temporarily in the flash intro. I tried in vain to find it on any other page!

Gimme gimme big veggy pizza and 100% juice drink - drool!

If the cavemen are foreigners, then I would have to say the ad is racist. They’re making a pun on the word “laowai,” after all, tying together foreigners and eating out.
Any kid singing and dancing around me shouting “Laowai, laowai!” is going to get a swift kick in the pants.
The mode of life of people here in the recent past (ie. 20 or 30 years ago) was a hell of a lot closer to “cavemen days” than my childhood was. so they can fuck off.

It sounds to me more like an insult to aboriginal people. Lai-o-wan sounds like the Sirayan word for Tainan (Tayowan)… “wan” being a common morpheme in austronesian languages. In Taiwan the aboriginal people are often portrayed as “A race of Tarzans”.

The print ad is (Lao Wai) can’t write the chinese characters. They have one at Yung An Market station if you want to see it. Lao Wai means old foreigner. My GF’s friends call me this all the time.

No laowai does not mean “old foreigner”. Lao is a friendly form of address. It just means “foreigner” as a title or name.

And re: the ad - I always thought it looked more like it was taking the piss out of Aborigines as being backward cavepeople. Mind you, I’d never actually listened to it.

They are Chinese. You can watch the ads on this page and computer wallpapers here.

Interesting idea, but the word used in the ads is laowai, not “laiowan”. Bob_honest is a little hard of hearing.

no, they’re Taiwanese saying “Laowai”.

They are Chinese. You can watch the ads on this page and computer wallpapers here.[/quote]
Thanks, Juba. Having seen the ad, I now agree it isn’t racist, and return to my original opinion that it’s ridiculous.