Banned. zěnme bàn 怎么办?

If you’re able to read this you should be as glad as I am. It seems that China has, for whatever reason, blocked access to all blogger/blogspot blogs. I think the email updates should still be going out. But if you’re in mainland China (I still haven’t heard from that island off the east coast) you won’t be able to access it directly.Regardless of what context may suggest, “zěnme bàn 怎么办?” doesn’t mean “how did they ban me?” It’s the bàn of bànfǎ 办法= method [do way]. A good translation would be:

zěnme bàn 怎么办? = what’s to be done? / what should we do?

I used that the other day when my water dispenser sprung a leak. The guy delivered a new bottle and I showed him the puddle. He then waxed eloquent, totally losing me, saying things I’m sure boiled down to stuff like:

“Well this particular model, when inundated with an influx of new water after a freshly replenished container is installed, seems to have a tendency to backwash ever so slightly, while, I shouldn’t fail to mention that, a simple preemptive strike–viz. draining the surplus water before installing the new jug–may very well serve to nip this problem in the bud.”

I blinked at him loudly and said simply, “zěnme bàn 怎么办?”

He then sprung into action demonstrating and implementing what he had (I’m sure) just explained and all was made clear. Never mind that it didn’t solve the problem. I called him the next day saying:

hái yǒu yíyàng de wèntí 还有一样的问题. zěnme bàn 怎么办? = (it) still has the same problem. What should we do?

The point is, this is a useful little phrase that, even if it doesn’t lead to a real solution, might at least lead to action.

Which brings me back to the problem of this blog. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. If you’re in China: depend on the email updates. To subcribe (or refer someone to subscribe) click here. Amzingly, you still seem to be able to leave comments (see “comments” link at bottom of the email).
  2. If you’re not in China: enjoy your free access and let me know if there are any strange layout problems.

Comments

  1. My take on “zěnme bàn” is that is just about interchangeable with “how do I/we handle this/that?”.

    Meiyou bànfǎ is, of course, a common response. This had led me to consider having T-Shirts made with “MFB” on them, which would mean meiyou banfa with a popular English expletive spliced between the Chinese terms. Sort of like the “TMD” shirts and hats that people sometimes find here…

  2. Is it meant to be “MBF”, which stands for mei ban fa?
    By the way “TMD” is the chinese national swear which stands for ta ma de, meaning his/her mother’s in english.

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