Obama, Bush, vitamin drinks, and puns

Here’s something from an ad I saw on the Taipei subway (MRT). It features cartoons of George W. Bush and Barack Obama shilling for some vitamin drink.

Cartoon figures of Bush and Obama, with Bush disdainfully tossing aside drink cartons labeled 'C' and Obama holding up a bottle of juice labeled 'C'. The text is as described below.

Bush (though he looks a bit more to me like the love child of W and maybe Prince Charles) is saying:

?C ?C
??????????C

C, bù C.
H? gu?zh? bùnéng zh?y?u wéit?mìng C.

A rough English translation, filling in a few gaps:

Not just vitamin C, not just vitamin C.
When you drink fruit juice, you should not settle for just vitamin C.

Note: The C is italicized in the Pinyin version to emphasize that this is pronounced like a foreign (i.e., English) letter C rather than how C is pronounced in the Pinyin alphabet. The reason for this is that “bù C” is a pun on “Bush”, whose name in Taiwan is generally pronounced in Mandarin as Bùx?, unlike in China, where it is usually pronounced Bùshí.

Obama’s lines are more interesting:

?????? (??)
????????

Read in Mandarin this is:

?ub?m? [Obama], ?ub?m? (Táiy?).
M?i gu?zh? bù yào h?ibái m?i.

And roughly in English this is

Obama, Obama (Taiwanese)
When you buy fruit juice, don’t buy just whatever

But the text tells people to read ??? (?ub?m?/Obama) as Taiwanese (Táiy?), which means that it’s pronounced Au3-peh4-be2, which is a pun with what is written, in red for emphasis, ???.

??? in Mandarin is h?ibái m?i, which means to buy things indiscriminantly. In Hoklo (Taiwanese), however, this expression is O.1-peh4-boe2, thus a pun on Au3-peh4-be2 (Obama).

Also, h?ibái by itself is simply “black [and] white” (as in Obama and Bush).

And Obama’s name, like Bush’s, has different Mandarin forms in Taiwan and China. But that doesn’t have much to do with the ad.

As always, I welcome those who (unlike me) know Taiwanese romanization well to correct anything that needs fixing.