Scottish Independence Vote Tallying Method Amuses Chinese Netizens

UK vote counting involves lots of tally marks.

Yesterday (19th in China, 18th in the UK) was the Scottish Independence Referendum, and this microblog post managed to make it into the Top 10 most popular posts on Chinese microblogging social network Sina Weibo…

From Sina Weibo:

@英国那些事儿: Live BBC broadcast of a polling station… it must be a real pain to count up votes for British people who don’t know how to write “正”… #Scotland Independence Referendum#

UK vote counting involves lots of tally marks.

Note: 正 is the Chinese/Asian tally mark. It has five strokes, so each 正 represents a set of five.

Comments from Sina Weibo:


The country that needs voting the least invented the most convenient vote counting method [referring to China where there is no voting and the 正 tally mark method].


With this kind of intelligence, what’s the point in seeking independence…


Even if they knew how to use the 正 tally mark, they wouldn’t know how to use multiplication… Better stick to using calculators, thanks.


I once did an investigation/experiment →_→ The teacher [probably referring to a foreign teacher] saw me tallying with 正 and thought it was really magical and smart…


Chinese people count/tally things in a smarter way. It’s just that the vote isn’t in the people’s hands.


Why don’t they use a [ballot that can be automatically counted, such as an “optical answer sheet“]? Marking it with a pencil for a machine to count them would be much more reliable than the people of the “Rotten Country”.

[Note: 腐国 fuguo, literally “rotten country”, is a humorous Chinese internet nickname for the UK, referring to Chinese perceptions of British homosexual culture (often specifically in pop media culture). The term is related to another Chinese internet slang term, 腐女 funv, literally “rotten women”, that was adapted from the Japanese term ふじょしfujoshi and refers to women who enjoy “boys love” manga/anime featuring homosexual love stories between males.].


“Hey, is this mark a tally mark or just a mark from my pencil just now?”


You may know how to write [tally with] 正, but have you ever voted…?


My god, come on, these little lines are too primitive, so easy to miscount! Could you not have changed it to a 10×10 grid that you check off?!


Four vertical marks and one horizontal mark would be the proper way of doing it…

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Andrew

    Or they could just adopt ||| (don’t know how to represent the strikethrough). Although I do find 正 superior.

    • Alex Dương

      I thought the four vertical lines with a horizontal strikethrough was pretty well accepted in the Anglosphere?

      • Andrew

        Exactly. Which is why it’s odd that they resorted to 111111111111s.

      • Teacher in China

        Very widely done in the Anglosphere (I love that term, btw). Not sure what the hell the people in these photos were thinking…

  • Pakonas

    After four years traching in chinese university, I hate “正”. Instead to use arabic numbers, we have to write this to count how many times students were absent…ridiculous.

    • Sum Ting Wong

      Arabic numbers is a pain in this case, it looks like a mess when you place a number right next to each other and you have to use , to separate each number.

      • Pakonas

        But, if you see, for example, a students didn’t come fifteen times and you have to write it in a square, what is easier, write directly “15” or “正 正 正”?

        • Alex Dương

          How did you know he was absent fifteen times? Please tell me you don’t write 111111111111111 and then count the 1s.

          • Pakonas

            Ok, every teacher has a sheet with different squares for every student in every lesson, ok?if the student doesn’t come, we write a symbol in that square. At the end of semester we have a paper (picture attached) in which we have to write how many absents had the student during whole semester. We count all the symbols in the squares on the sheet that every teacher has, and then we write the result using 正 instead of a arabic number.

          • Alex Dương

            Doesn’t Spain have an equivalent system? In the U.S., the vast majority of people keep counts / tallies in groups of five by marking four vertical lines and then drawing a diagonal line across the four lines. 正 is obviously the Chinese equivalent of this system. I’d be very surprised if the Spanish way were to just write and erase repeatedly.

          • Pakonas

            Ok, let’s simplify my point. Someone here asks me how many chairs there are in my house. So, I count and I see there are six chairs. I want to write “6” in arabic numbers, but the guy say me “no way, you have to write 正 plus a horizontal line above”. What way does it look more easy and fast for you? Ok, I don’t mind writing infinity series of 正 but why no just write the result using arabic numbers? Just compare how long would take for a person write “134” compare with “正正正正正。。。。。” and more.

          • ClausRasmussen

            You explained yourself poorly to begin with but now I understand. However, the University’s requirement is not much unlike how we use roman numerals in some circumstances because of tradition. Think Super Bowl, Olympics, or the construction year of a building

          • Teacher in China

            I understood your point immediately and agree with you completely. Not sure why everyone else needed you to paint a picture for them….

          • AbC

            It’s hard to count to 134 and not loose track of where you are up to. Much easier to remember by tracking using groups of 5 either with four verticle lines and a horizontal line or using 正.

          • Pakonas

            I think we are talking about 2 different things. About counting votes and writing one stroke for each vote, I agree maybe it is better to use a way like 正, and then count all 正 at the end. But, in my case, I said I hate 正 because we had to write the number of absents (which we already had count before and we know the number in our mind) using 正’s instead of arabic numbers. You got my point now?

          • Alex Dương

            I agree that if you already know what the count is, then just write the number. 正, four vertical lines and a diagonal strikethrough, or a square with a diagonal line are all very commonly used systems to keep track of something you are still counting. According to the Wikipedia article Fauna linked to, it seems that this is what most Spanish people use to keep track of a count in progress. Is that what you use?

          • Kai

            I’m wondering if you’ve misunderstood what you’re supposed to do.

            The idea of using tally marks is to keep a count on the same piece of paper. If you’re counting absenses over the course of a school period on the same piece of paper, it makes sense to use tally marks, adding one each time an absence occurs. At the end of the semester or year, you can quickly add up the total absences with each 正 as a multiple of 5. You may even just write the final total in an arabic number.

            If you are using a new piece of paper each day, you can just increment the arabic number from the previous piece of paper. You should not be rewriting all the previous 正s and adding a new stroke. However, this would be a waste of paper and ostensibly at odds with the idea of tallying in the first place.

            Chinese people, like non-Chinese people, use 正 as a method for tallying, and use arabic numerals to write final counts. They don’t write final counts in tally marks.

          • Pakonas

            At the beginning of every semester we had a table for every group of students and subject: the rows were for every student, the columns for the lessons. So, if one studend doesn´t come, you have to write a symbol (depending of the reason of the absense) in the square regarding to the student and the lesson in which this student was absent. At the end of the semester we had another list (the one I posted) in which we have to write the total of absenses for every reason (sick leave, etc). Then we go to the first list, we count the symbols we wrote and we write them in the final list. I wonder why I couldn´t use arabic numbers to write this final result instead of 正, that’s all.

          • Kai

            Wait, so you had one piece of paper for the semester to tally on, and then you were given another copy of that paper to write the final totals to submit, right?

            You should be counting the tallies on the piece of paper you’ve been using throughout the semester and writing the final total in arabic numbers on the final paper you submit, not rewriting the 正s. Are they actually telling you to rewrite the 正s? That sounds odd. If so, I wonder if they’re dicking with you. Maybe you should double-check with the person you’re submitting to and several other fellow teachers.

          • Pakonas

            You can’t imagine how many times I double (and triple) checked if this was the appropriate way and how hilarious and absurd was, and they just told me “yes” because leaders say that. And this with each odd rules I had to face during 4 terms. Beeeeee!!!

          • Kai

            That sounds incredibly odd but not entirely impossible. There are plenty of people doing dumbass shit in the world just because someone else said so or “it has always been done this way”.

            I recommend either handing in a final sheet with total absences in arabic numbers or just handing in the tallying sheet you used during the semester. Since it already has the same 正 marks they want, there’s no point in copying it again and wasting another piece of paper.

            I’d go with the first option first and see if you get any pushback. If you do, then we can safely confirm that idiots are in charge, and then you can do the second method to at least minimize a wee bit the environmental harm their idiocy is causing.

          • Pakonas

            I prefer the third option, what I finally did: changing the job for other with less leaders and untouchable persons.

          • Myk

            Unless i miss something, all i can see is two photos of the hand of one guy who’s counting in this way. I guess it’s one of these cases “I’ve seen one foreigner doing it this way, therefore all foreigners do”.
            I also know the System you describe from Germany, but I’ve also seen people, here in China, simply drawing a square with the fifth stroke diagonally.

          • Kai

            Yep, some of the comments are just haughtiness based on a generalization. A lot of Chinese (even Asians) people believe Westerners have poor mathematic skills.

        • Andrew

          The idea is that you can increment the number. With arabic numbers, you’ll have to erase and write a new number. Every single time.

          • SongYii

            Not if you live in 2014 and use a computer. :-)

          • lacompacida

            First, dig out the computer. Turn it on. Wait for it to boot. Log in. Find the program. Start the program. Get it to retrieve the data you had last time. Add one. Save the file. Close the program. Log out. Shut it down. Turn power off. Put computer away.

          • SongYii

            Way simpler than that.

          • Brido227

            Using electronic means to count isn’t permitted under these electoral regulations. The ballots have to be counted by hand.

            Not using the ‘four ticks with one score-through’ method isn’t permitted either, to avoid confusion over whether a mistake as been made. Ballot-related documentation in the UK is subject to some incredibly intense controls over what can be added or erased, the priority being transparency over efficiency or anything else for that matter.

          • SongYii

            I was only talking about taking attendance in class.

        • lacompacida

          Just try adding one to 14 on the 15th day.

    • lacompacida

      The tally mark is a way to add one to a number without erasing or crossing it. Try add one to, say, 2, three days after.

  • Toasty

    In a referendum like this, absolutely nothing is left to chance. I’m sure there must be a reason why they were told to do it like this (no, I don’t know what that reason is).

  • mr.wiener

    [Some] Chinese netizins being dismissive of other democratic methodology…….
    OWW!!!., a huge ball of irony just hit me right between the eyes.

    Edit: Sorry meant to say other countries democratic methodology.

    • SongYii

      Other? Meaning, in addition to their own? ;-)

  • ClausRasmussen

    This method of counting is laughable and the Chinese netizens are rightly making fun of it

    Another thing is: I was interested in the result but was surprised by how long it took to count the votes, the final result wasn’t ready until 05:00 even though the polls closed at 22:00. That’s seven hours! In my country it takes only 2-3 hours

    I imagine one giant sheet of paper in the central polling commission covered by millions of 1s… lol

    • donscarletti

      I’m pretty sure everyone knew how to use tally marks, the method of 4 parallel vertical lines and one through them is known throughout the British isles.

      I suspect they simply have a policy against it. I imagine the rationale is that it is harder to make a mistake when simply writing vertical lines while counting the votes than using any tally mark system. The resulting lines are then not particularly hard to count whether they are grouped into 5s or not.

    • Xio Gen

      That is really odd that they aren’t using the traditional four vertical marks plus a horizontal slash. I learned that as a kid from Freakazoid. The pollster must have been really stupid.

    • Richard

      The polls closed at 10pm but that just meant that nobody else could join the queue after 10pm.

      Most results were in for 3am whilst the final result was in for 8am because of the logistics of bringing all the ballot boxes from the remote regions to the accredited counting house.

      I hope this helps.

      • ClausRasmussen

        >> bringing all the ballot boxes from the remote regions

        Why don’t they just count the votes on location ? I mean: If they trust the personnel to oversee the voting and not stuff the ballot box, then I think they can just as well be trusted to count the votes and phone in the result ?

        The votes could still be bought to a central counting house for control later.

        In my country we have islands with some 20 votes cast. They always get their 5 minutes of fame at every election because their results are the very first to come in.

        • Richard

          I don’t know for certain the full details of why they don’t count on location however the polling station will need to be manned by 2 officials at all times from 7am to when the final vote is cast (10.15pm should be enough time) so it isn’t practical for the same people to man the stations and reliably count the votes.

          The counting stations have lots of people stationed there ready to count the votes as the ballot boxes are taken there. Having one central place counting the votes will make reliable neutral overseeing of the process easier than having to send an acceptable person out to the numerous polling stations.

          I found the link below quite a good guide for general UK elections if you’re not familiar with them.

          The regions could be split up into smaller sections to return the votes quicker however that means that you need to have more people employed to administer it.

          There are ways that I would improve the way that the votes are cast and collated but when all the votes were in before the start of the next working day then it doesn’t seem a huge issue to get hung up about.

          • ClausRasmussen

            Thank you for enlighten me on the process.

    • JayJay

      I work for an English local authority and I have been both a poll clerk and counting officer. The method of counting varies from region to region but follows an general guidance from the Electoral Commission and it is decided by the local Democratic Services. We use counting sheets, which are just 10 by 10 boxes sheets, where one vote is counted, a box is crossed with a pencil diagonally and it is easier for counting. The method has worked for over 100 years, and I don’t see why we need to change it. But I am sure the Netizens will be even more amused that no everybody comes into the polling station is asked for ID. As long as they can provide name and address, they are given a ballot paper. IDs are only asked where necessary.

    • WangDN

      What is your country!? In China no-one is allowed to vote, so they have no idea how long it would take. What’s more, being as it can take weeks for even the most simplest of decisions to be made in China I imagine if there was every an ellection in China it would take months to count (that is if it was ever counted at all and the result was not just decided by the guy with the deepest pockets).

      • ClausRasmussen

        >> What is your country!?

        My country is Denmark, but I don’t think we’re exceptionally fast counters. I think Scotland is exceptionally slow, but as the other commentors explain it seems they have other priorities than getting fast results

  • Amused

    Ehhh, who are they to criticize; when’s the last time THEY voted on anything?

  • Jackie Chan

    “the Rotten Country [a Chinese online nickname for the UK].”

    Sorry what?

    • ClausRasmussen

      Yeah… do anyone know about that and care to explain?

      • Xigua

        Girls who are interested in Japanese gay romance stories/cartoons are called ‘funv’ 腐女. The UK apparently has a higher prevalence of gay people in their dramas and films and so has earned the nickname ‘fuguo’. The most famous ‘gay couple’ of all is Sherlock Holmes and Watson…..

    • JMB

      Word play, perhaps?

    • wes707

      Because being prejudice against anything “foreign” is an intrinsic right for members of the Middle Kingdom.

      • Alex Dương

        So did the Chinese come up with “perfidious Albion” too?

        • wes707

          Are you a mod or an apologist?

          • Alex Dương

            I am a mod. And I’m asking you a question: did the Chinese come up with “perfidious Albion” too?

          • wes707

            No, now enlighten me with your apologetics, Mr. Mod.

          • Alex Dương

            Good. So deep down, you know that a comment like “Because being prejudice against anything “foreign” is an intrinsic right for members of the Middle Kingdom” is pure nonsense. I don’t defend anglophobia or xenophobia more generally, but let’s not pretend that this is an especially Chinese behavior when it is not.

          • wes707

            Yes China, the civilization that historically regard literally everything outside of its borders as barbaric and uncivilized 華夷之辨. China is still is one of the most closed and xenophobic nations in the world. Remember this is a country that emanated from the same political model as North Korea, and they still rank together in having the world’s most censored/closed internets, along with other esteemed nations such as Saudi Arabia, Burma, Iran, etc. True, other cultures are xenophobic to a degree but few are a match for China. So no, it’s not pure nonsense.

          • Confucius

            The UK is pretty xenophobic. Not only do we hate people who don’t look like us, we hate those who look like us but weren’t born in the UK. Examples include pretty much any Eastern European, Greeks , Romanians, Italians, Turks.

            Btw, we considered Australian Indigenous people not people at all – but you might give it a different word to “xenophobic”, and Indians and Africans … but that’s not nearly as historic as “華夷之辨” so maybe we should bring our discussion to the status of Roman citizens vs the majority of people in the Roman empire …. no, that’s not historic enough, maybe go back to the Jews and their belief of being the chosen people under an all-exclusive God, now that will be about the same time as the concept of “華夷之辨”

            So, Wes, do you believe the Chinese should be able to claim the nine-dash line based on historicity? Or do you believe that the Chinese should forget WW2 because it was so eighty-years-ago? If you’re conflicted about this, it may be because your prejudice is making you hold conflicting irrational views. Given that Australia just recently sent a few hundred police to raid 20+ Muslim families to charge one pimply Muslim teenager with “formulating a plan to terrorise”, I think you will have a pretty difficult debate there to prove your belief that China is the most xenophobic country in the world.

          • wes707

            Reread my comment above, now that I’ve added examples of state sponsored xenophobia in China, and then find me anything similar in the recent past incited by Western governments.

            Also, assuming you’re of Chinese descent, if the British are as xenophobic as you say, why would they let you (or your parents/grandparents) immigrate there?

          • anon101

            2011, greater London, 44.9% of the population were white British, I just cant see how that number would have come about if the UK where so xenophobic.

          • mr.wiener

            The court is still out on whether that was justified or not….The Australian Muslim council ain’t happy about it, but they are even less impressed with young islamic types making threats and spouting ISIL BS.

          • mr.wiener

            Since I’m about as Chinese as Ned Kelly I think we can safely say becoming a moderator is not based on race.
            Becoming an apologist or a grumpy bigot is largely a matter of choice however.

          • Alex Dương

            Yes China, the civilization that has historically regarded literally everything outside of its borders as barbaric and uncivilized 華夷之辨.

            Has regarded or had regarded?

            China is still one of the most closed and xenophobic nations in the world.

            And your basis for this claim is…what, exactly? This?

            Remember this is a country that emanated from the same political model as North Korea, and they still rank together in having the world’s most censored/closed internets, along with other esteemed nations such as Saudi Arabia, Burma, Iran, etc.

            China is still officially (read: nominally) Communist, therefore it is closed and xenophobic. OK. If you’re a foreigner, can you work in China? I think you know the answer. Does China have diplomatic relations with other countries? I think you also know the answer. So please, use some more logic and less demagoguery.

      • 白色纯棉小裤裤

        Its obvious that you don’t understand Chinese culture at all.
        “Rotten country” is a literal translation, the actual meaning is a country that has a high prevalence of gays. Its derived from the term “腐女” or “Rotten women”. Many girls who are interested in gay/gay porns call themself “腐女” and the character “腐” or “rotten” have no offensive meaning.

        • guest

          Being unaware of one thing means someone doesn’t

          “understand Chinese culture at all”?

          • chueng

            Exactly. actually it was the problem of the editor’s translation.

            It’s a problem of translation but you blame the source language, a target reader can’t understand the source language, so they blame the source language for being too opaque?

            It’s the translator ‘s fault. A translator should pay attention to not only the message, but also the culture.Without any explanation, you do a literal translation, and the connotation changes.

            “Fuguo” is a neutral word in Chinese, it derived from 腐女, which is “ふじょし” in Japanese. But after literal translation, “rotten country” has negative meaning.

            I would prefer transliteration here, “fuguo” may confuse you, but will not become an anger trigger.

        • David

          Yes, obviously it is not offensive at all. LMAO come on, get real. I am not from the UK but it is offensive and to say it is not with THAT explanation does not clear anything up. Perhaps it is not MEANT to be offensive (which I will give them) but we need a better explanation. : )

        • Jackie Chan

          “”Rotten country” is a literal translation, the actual meaning is a country that has a high prevalence of gays.”

          Sorry what?

          • Joe

            Again this comes from Japanese anime culture, where women who likes yaoi porn are called rotten. And because Chinese women perceive many men in brit TV shows as closet homos they are known as a rotten country. Pretty simple.
            EDIT: being called a rotten women is like calling people as bronies, or a furries, just labels in various fandom. (god I need to get off the internet).

          • Confucius

            The actual translation is “Fukuo”. The explanation for the translation is “UK”. The etymology of the term is … etc etc.

          • Kai

            腐国 fuguo, is adapted from 腐女 funv, which is adapted from the Japanese slang term ふじょし fujoshi.

            Hope this clears up any further confusion, in addition to other explanations by various commenters here, including Joe’s.

          • Jackie Chan

            Sorry what.
            Why is the UK a gay country?
            Do they also call the USA or Sweden gay countries too or it randomly aimed at us?
            What makes the UK so gay compared to any of these other countries who are equally if not have a higher amount of ga people?
            Simply because of Sherlock and Doctor Who?
            Is this how other countries see us?

          • Joe

            No this is not how all Chinese people see the UK, it is limited to a very specific group of fan who likes yaoi/gay fiction, or rotten women. This have nothing to do the number of gay people in the UK

          • Kai

            Heh, remember that this is a nickname that is only used by a rather small subset of Chinese netizens, those who are fans of British pop culture (especially TV media), and not reflective of the average Chinese netizen or population.

            It’s not randomly aimed at the UK, it’s actually specifically aimed at the UK because of perceptions of subtle homosexual overtones with certain popular British pop culture characters by a subculture that is amused by “boys love” fantasies.

            You ever heard of “shippers”? It’s a subculture term for people who fantasize about their favorite TV show characters being in relationships, sometimes writing fanfiction about such relationships. The term is adapted from “relationship”. There are “shippers” for everything from Scully and Mulder of the X-Files to the Harry Potter franchise.

            “Fuguo” is a similar term, for Chinese people, adapted and evolved from the Japanese term fujoshi. The Japanese idea was roughly that girls who like male homosexual romances were “rotten” somehow, meaning something like twisted or perverse but otherwise abnormal, perhaps under the assumption that girls should be first interested in hetero relationships or female homosexual relationships before being interested in homosexual male relationships for which they cannot personally take part. Chinese girls who also joined the subculture adopted the term, which is simply “funv” in Chinese. That “fu” became associated with “male homosexual fantasies” and with the development of Chinese fandom of British TV shows, the UK became jokingly referred to as “fuguo” with “guo” meaning country.

            Again, keep in mind that this is a minority subculture term, not mainstream.

            The term doesn’t suggest that the UK is more “gay” than other countries, but refers to a homosexual culture that is perceived as perhaps more subtle and sophisticated than the homosexual cultures of other countries that Chinese netizens are familiar with, like the United States. If you read the Baidu Baike entry that @donscarletti:disqus provided in another comment, it roughly says that American homosexual culture is more flagrant and in your face compared the the British. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. It’s all about how some Chinese netizens fantasize and perceive it.

            AFAIK, I don’t think there are any other countries with subcultures that refer to the UK as “fuguo”. It’s a Chinese term, adapted from a Japanese one. There might be, since the BL subculture isn’t limited to Japan or China, but the term itself is Chinese.

          • ClausRasmussen

            As far as I understand there is very little of the typical Western antagonism against gays in China, so the expression went from an upfront insult to mildly humorous in my mind

        • wes707

          Oh I see, since Chinese generally have such a positive view of homosexuals, it must have no negative connotation at all.

          • 白色纯棉小裤裤

            Good to see more ignorance from you.
            The term “腐” as “gay related” is not used by the general population. It is used by people who really like homosexuals and it is used by them to refer themselved.

    • donscarletti

      According to Baidu Encyclopedia:




      Netspeak, a name made up by Chinese netizens for the UK. Originating in British homosexual culture and the imaginings of Chinese netizens about this homosexual culture.

      I just want to point out that 腐 is the Fu in Tofu (豆腐), so it’s not always a bad word. But still, it is a bad word 90% of the time, meaning rotting, political corruption or corrosion.

    • Guang Xiang

      Congratulations, you just experienced a classic ‘lost-in-translation’ scenario.

  • MagikGimp

    I’m more bothered about this whole “Rotten Country” thing. What’s that all about? Can they really not stop holding a grudge? Then again, neither can Alex Salmond I guess!

    • Zhegezhege

      There is no need to be upset.

      You have freedom of speech, an open Internet, rule of law, the right to vote, a language that makes you globally employable, an accountable government that you aren’t afraid of, the right to work in a rich country with far more social justice than most and free, quality healthcare. They have an inferiority complex and a childish nickname.

      • David

        I am not sure about the quality health care part, but the rest is a fair point.

        • Confucius

          Yeah, the NHS isn’t anything to be particularly proud of. I mean the service, not the principle of free medical care at first contact which I fully support. I think what we need to do is to change the GPs back to a fee-for-service model and put someone medical in charge of coming up with improvements to the system rather than more politicians

          • xv

            That’s only because the Tories have been running it into the ground, so people won’t complain as much when they inevitably privatise it.

  • diverdude7

    wtf happened to modern technology ? why don’t they just use colored pebbles instead?

  • Cynic-Al

    I hope it’s an extremely small precinct/election district.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Well since these people weren’t smart enough to make a simple cross along 4 marks to denote groups of five, I think these folks are justified.

  • Markus P

    The UK does the tally in the image below.
    So what’s with the above images? Must be some small area that used the above method?…


  • Mothafuckers cant even vote nor do they have human rights in China tho

  • SimpsonsGoldenAge

    Who was the idiot doing this really?

  • Insomnicide

    Okay so it’s not just me that was baffled by the lack of crossing in their tallies.

  • Confucius

    Kai, as per our previous discussion, I am writing to alert you to the mistranslation in Chinasmack that chooses to take a negative interpretation rather than a postive one. As mentioned before, this will be a direct message to the mods, but I am also happy for you to post this if you like.

    I think you should change translation of ‘fukuo’ to “the UK [written as ‘fukuo’ that is an internet nickname for the UK]. Rather than calling the UK a “rotten country”, ‘fukuo’ is simply a nickname with no more prejudice than calling the US ‘meikuo’ (or “beautiful country”).

    Yes, there are etymological reasons for their use: ‘fukuo’ supposedly derives from the Japanese name for the avant garde people with ambiguous sexual tendencies – often associated with the anime culture – and like with many Chinese words and phrases that play on additional ironic/humorous overtones (because they have different meanings depending on context and when combined with other characters), the Chinese character ‘fu’ used in “fukuo” may be interpreted as “ambiguous”, with overtones of “corrupt”, “decay/decline” and of course “rotten”. It is like translating ‘gay people’ in English as “happy people” in Chinese.

    This explanation is probably too long and the literal translation is too easily misinterpreted by many of your usual readers as denigrating the UK. I would be the first to take offence if there is offence to be taken here.

    • wnsk

      “Meiguo” has positive connotations. “Fuguo” doesn’t. So I don’t think it’s equivalent. The equivalent to “Meiguo” would be “Yingguo” for England. Both of these are partially phonetic transcriptions but the words “mei” and ÿing” both have positive connotations. “Fuguo” (although I have never come across the term till today) definitely sounds derogatory to me.

      • Confucius

        No, they are not equivalent. Etymologically, “meiguo” supposedly came about because people smugglers were trying to entice Chinese workers to the US while “fuguo” most likely reflects the prevalent (worldwide) belief (that is still reflective of a significant population) that homosexuality is a disease not a congenital trait. Most people would not suggest that “meiguo” has positive connotations now. “Fuguo” is unlikely to have a lot of negative connotation to it although the prejudice/stereotype is there. This argument reminds me of the one a few weeks/months back about the use of the term “laowai” and whether it is a slur. I don’t think it is a slur although it can be used with prejudice. I accept that you may take a different position to me in terms of this (whether “fuguo” has negative connotations).

    • Kai

      “Rotten country” is not a “mistranslation”; it is simply a literal translation. She didn’t “choose to take a negative interpretation rather than a positive one”. The most you can blame Fauna for is that she didn’t go on to explain what it means/refers to.

      Do you think this reveals her as having some nefarious anti-Chinese agenda?

      I don’t, but I agree that the literal translation without sufficient explanation in anticipation of its possible misinterpretation resulted in a number of people taking unnecessary offense. I’ll make sure Fauna is aware of it.

      • Confucius

        No, I agree with you. I think she was simply translating literally. That is not necessarily the right way to translate things, depending on one’s education and motives. I consider this as a mistranslation but I doubt the translator had a nefarious anti-Chinese agenda: she made an effort to point out this is an internet term. However, in the context of how most of the commentators on this forum interpret negative things about the Chinese, I would suggest that being neutral and translating “fukuo” as “the UK [written as ‘fukuo’ that is an internet nickname for the UK]” is better. You could even add in brackets “(the commentator may have chosen this term for negative purposes)”, although I don’t see how that will add anything more to the forum. It would be good to actually change it instead of expecting new readers to read debate in the forum. Ultimately the question Chinasmack translators need to ask themselves is, what is the purpose of their translations – to facilitate intercultural understanding or to foster bigotry?

        • Kai

          I think she should’ve added more explanation in the translator’s note about the term’s origin and meaning. Your suggestion of her translating it as “the UK” and then explaining how it was written as “fuguo” in a translator’s note could also work, but it should still include an explanation.

          I don’t think the “(the commentator may have chosen this term for negative purposes)” would be necessary unless we have cause to believe the Chinese commenter doesn’t actually understand what “fuguo” means and was thus misusing it. I don’t see anything to suggest the commenter was using the term incorrectly.

          I’ve gone ahead and edited the translator’s note to include more explanation.

          Ultimately the question Chinasmack translators need to ask themselves is, what is the purpose of their translations – to facilitate intercultural understanding or to foster bigotry?

          False dichotomy. The purpose of our translations is to provide a glimpse into modern Chinese internet trends and culture. The product of our work may faciliatate intercultural understanding AND/OR foster bigotry. Much (and, frankly, I think most) of it depends on the intelligence and rationality of the reader.

  • wnsk

    Is Scotland short of paper? What if people write (wrote) 2 strokes instead of 1? It also seems easier to miscount strokes, than individual pieces of voting slips. All in all, a ludicrous method.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    I suppose this picture in UK papers will be used by some to illustrate why Scotland isn’t ready for independence yet…

    • Ken Morgan

      Scotland wasn’t ready for independence because their finances did not add up by 2bn. Their plans to use the £ also didn’t add up either as China is pegged with the US$ and keeps 1trillion US$ in reserve. Scotland had £0, so day 1 of freedom they needed to find £20,000 per person.

  • wnsk

    So if a “smart” person makes a stupid mistake, a “stupid” person can’t point out that mistake? Riiiight.

  • Amused

    Communist vote! Hahaha, that’s pretty good ace, I almost lost my coffee. And I’m me, so I’m free to criticize.

    • Confucius

      Why can’t communists vote? Who are you referring to when you say “communist”? And yes, you are you and they are ‘they’, and so they are free to criticise too.

      • Amused

        In any single party system voting is a farce. “Let’s see, you can vote for me or me.” If you need someone to tell you that’s ridiculous… And yeah they can criticize too, but I’ll just ignore it like their masters do. :D

        • Confucius

          You are very misinformed in your understanding of the concept of communism, what voting means in a democracy, how western governments are considered plutocracies rather than democracies, the power of lobbyists and the government-private enterprise circuit, policies introduced to silence undesirable voters ostensibly to improve parts of the system etc etc.

          You are also very misinformed about the current governing system in China, the established system of voting, the freedom of speech and activity, the significant effect and acceptance of criticisms against government policy and activity from both academia and social platforms. As one of the commentators said above, the only thing you can’t do in China really is to try to create a group deliberately (as a lead up to anti-government activity, but usually labelled as anti-society activity).

          Your posts reflect your lack of understanding, and while many readers will see through it, I cannot leave it unanswered here because many commentators on this forum seem to enjoy taking the same uninformed and bigoted view.

          • Amused

            What a load of horseshit. China is an military oligarchy dancing around in the tattered old costume of a communism. Neither of these forms of government are known for their open and effective voting systems. Enjoy your “understanding” bud :)

  • ESL Ninja

    Man with no shoes laughing at man with odd socks.

  • Jackie Chan

    How about a nickname for China?
    What about Propaganda country or Brainwashing country or Foreign Job stealing devils country?

    • Kai

      Sure, plenty of people outside of China have such nicknames for China.

  • Karze

    Chinese are laughing because they have never experienced what democracy since days of first emperor. Its like describing about taste of coffee or ice cream who has never tasted it.

    But the Scottish politician Alex Salmond who lead the call for freedom was a hypocrite for he wants Tibetans to live under Chinese occupations but he cannot live under democratic UK.

  • Karze

    This is the strength of the democratic values that leaders are not afraid of the people choice unlike Chinese leaders are paranoid of the people specially the minority such as Tibetans and Uighur who live under Chinese oppressive rule.

    Tibetan homes must display the photos from Mao to Xi or else they will be targeted a politically unreliable. While its crime to possess a picture of the Dalai Lama in Tibet.

    • Ken Morgan

      That’s not really true, the UK government and past UK governments have refused to give UK people votes on things they KNOW they will lose. Death penalty, EU exit etc.

      Also in the EU the Treaty of Nice, which was voted on, they voted no, so they held it again until they got the ‘right answer’ The UK government promised to let us vote on that too, but in the end welched on the promise and signed the treaty anyway. In October the UK government ceeds all its powers to the EU and we go onto QMV which means Germany gets all the votes.

    • Eidolon

      Talk about a black and white world view that completely misses the nuances of this geopolitical move. The UK allowed this referendum because, first of all, they were confident about winning and, second of all, they’re joining the EU, so even were the Scots to go ‘independent’, they’d just end up in the same geopolitical/economic bloc anyhow.

      China has no such assurances about Xinjiang and Tibet. The people who stand to gain the most from Xinjiang/Tibetan independence are, in fact, China’s enemies and rivals. It’s a night and day analogy obvious to everyone with a clue about geopolitics.

  • Yes!

    When will Xinjiang and Tibet get their referendums?

    • Alex Dương

      Considering that the only reason the U.K. approved this was because they thought they’d easily win and that Spain is adamant against a referendum in Catalonia because they believe they will lose, even if China were to democratize, what do you think?

    • Eidolon

      Isn’t it obvious? Not till both regions are stacked with Chinese voters who the CCP trust to vote ‘no’ on independence.

      Besides which, Scottish independence is a lot less geopolitically threatening to the UK state than Xinjiang/Tibetan independence is to the Chinese state. The Scots, even were they to leave the UK, is still stuck on the same island. By contrast, Xinjiang is capable of joining a Central Asian pan-Turkic/pan-Islamic bloc, Tibet is capable of inviting in India and letting them control the source of the Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers, etc.

      In today’s world, the CCP stands to gain very little from allowing Xinjiang/Tibetan independence and lose massively were they to do so. They’d therefore be very stupid to allow a referendum they don’t have confidence to win.

  • Pakonas

    Haha, or better how many mistakes they write on the red banners.

  • Charles

    I am pleasantly surprised by how fun it is to laugh at other countries along with Chinese folks – recording votes like this is well… to quote a recent post… something a four year old might do.

  • Rick in China

    Wow, the best comment..slamming all other commenters:

    “You may know how to write [tally with] 正, but have you ever voted…?”

  • Probotector

    “it must be a real pain to count up votes for British people who don’t know how to write “正””

    Most people who don’t know Chinese wouldn’t know how to write “正” either.

    (I know he’s just referring to the concept of grouping together tallies in 5s, as opposed to knowing the character itself).

    Since there is the western equivalent of dashing a horizontal line over 4 verticals to represent 5, it’s ironic they had to come across a photo of the one dumbass who didn’t know how to do this.

  • don mario

    well at least one person seemed to realise there is a western talley system already. whats up with this shite though? this is the most interesting comments chinasmack could find about the scottish independence story?

    • Kai

      Yesterday (19th in China, 18th in the UK) was the Scottish Independence Referendum, and this microblog post managed to make it into the Top 10 most popular posts on Chinese microblogging social network Sina Weibo…

      It was the only one that trended. There may be more “interesting” comments elsewhere but they weren’t on something that trended.

  • WangDN

    I love how all the comments are about a tallying system (which by the way is really no less efficient than the Chinese one; both require 5 strokes to complete), but none of the commenters are willing to point out that these stupid barbarians over in the UK have been trusted enough to be allowed them to vote on whether or not they should live in an independant county.

    If Chinese are all so smart, why not allow XinJiang, Tibet and Hong Kong to vote on independance!?

    • don mario

      i suspect chinasmack just didn’t choose to build a story around that sort of discussion. if this was truly all the chinese could think about when reacting to this independence vote then they really have been sucessfully brainwashed but i doubt this is the full picture.

      • Kai

        cS doesn’t choose what discussions to build a story around. cS tries to translate what was trending, whatever it might have been. It should be obvious that a nation of 1.3 billion pople did not only think about this in response to the overall issue of Scotland’s referendum on independent, but it was indeed the reactions of quite a lot of netizens in response to a microblog post specifically about the tallying method seen in BBC footage.

        • don mario

          maybe you should change your policy. trending storys are not always going to be the most interesting. if you want to make a western version of china smack every article would be about kim kardashian or rhianna wearing a new outfit.

          • Kai

            What’s interesting to you or us personally are not always going to be the most interesting to others.

            The rationale behind translating what’s trending is because it reflects something that was interesting to a critical mass of people. If we translate something that’s trending, we can at least conclude that it was interesting to a good deal of people.

            Otherwise, we’re trying to predict what each and every one of our readers might find interesting, and cS isn’t here to cater to what its readers find interesting; it’s here to share what Chinese netizens find interesting. If that interests you, then cS is gonna be a cool place for you.

            If there was a western version of cS, it’d probably translate content from a variety of major mainstream Western internet properties. I don’t think TMZ would be the only source, so every article wouldn’t be about Kim Kardashian or Rhianna. You’ll probably see stuff that is trending on Twitter, Reddit, CNN, Huffington Post, etc. and while celebritiy gossip is popular in the West, it’s also popular in China too, but you don’t see cS only having celebrity gossip.

          • don mario

            kai, with all due respect. nothing that you can do to defend this article. it is completely pointless and a waste of time. there is some good discussion in the comments section because the Scottish independence issue is interesting and a big story but the actual article, complete guff.

          • Kai

            I’m defending this article’s place on cS by pointing out how it meets our editorial criteria. I’m not trying to change your mind about how pointless or what a waste of time it is to you personally.

          • don mario

            with all due respect, you may want to reconsider the criteria. thats all i’m saying.

    • Kai

      I love how all the comments are about a tallying system (which by the way is really no less efficient than the Chinese one; both require 5 strokes to complete),

      They’re about the tallying system because that’s what the post was about. It’s considered less efficienty because there is no bundling or grouping involved that makes the final totalling easier.

      but none of the commenters are willing to point out that these stupid barbarians over in the UK have been trusted enough to be allowed them to vote on whether or not they should live in an independant county.

      Did you miss the comment by 青鸟唤春?

      If Chinese are all so smart, why not allow XinJiang, Tibet and Hong Kong to vote on independance!?

      Because there is no direct relationship between being “smart” and allowing voting. Sometimes being “smart” is to not allow voting. Sometimes “dumb” people can vote.

  • angry laowai

    and yet in small cities in china, people still use calculators to find out how much change they should be giving me for a 4 kuai bottle of water, after i give them 10 kuai…..

    • vincent_t

      nvr bump into that in China. I found generally people here are pretty good with math. You sure you are not referring to Italy?

      • Zappa Frank

        I remember one guy that used the calculator also to divide for 1