Selling point

No, they’re not taking the pith.

I went off to the supermarket before, but decided to take a different route just to shake things up. That brought me past a building site which was badly flooded after the tropical storms we had about three months ago. Progress on the site has been quite good and there are the usual hoardings outside. The English on them says

South of Yan mountain former embassy area excellent and cultural institution
Based on the building pithy of 1843

The first line is three separate statements (South of Yan mountain; former embassy area; excellent and cultural institution) as the Chinese makes clear. I thought “pithy” in the second line was probably a mistranslation, but it’s not. The Chinese says

源于1843年的建筑精粹 yuán yú 1843 nián de jiànzhù jīngcuì

The English is a semi-literal translation, and 精粹 can indeed mean “pithy”, but it also means “pure and exquisite; succinct; concise”. I assume a better translation would be “Based on the exquisite building of 1843”.

It’s interesting that the selling point should be that the building is based on the building of the former colonial masters (boo! hiss!). Thirty years ago it would’ve been in the style of a peasant’s hovel, and the advertising slogan would’ve read

Move your bowels in fear of the Red Guards in Third World squalor.
(Red Guards sold separately. Occupier may be subject to arbitrary struggle sessions.)
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