Pig mistake

Headline in a brief box story (on Price controls in the Philippines) in The Economist of 3/6/21 (p. 35). An obvious piece of word play: the story is about a big mistake on pigs.

In this brief story (five paragraphs plus a captioned picture), there are five bits of language play: two imperfect puns (the title Pig mistake and the caption The sow must go on, an imperfect pun based on spelling — the show must go on — rather than pronunciation); plus three allusions to formulaic language:

— in the subhead (A) ham-fisted (decree is trampled by market forces)

— in (it will be some time before) those little piggies get to market

— in (If pork adobo … is to remain the national dish, the taxman will need to) go the whole hog

The beginning of the story, with the crucial details:

Last month retailers in Manila went on a two-week “pork holiday”. That was not a fad diet, not even a few days off scarfing sausage and bacon. [Note more jaunty informality.] They simply refused to sell the stuff, in protest at a price cut imposed by presidential degree.

Pork is a staple in the Philippines. Prices have recently soared, to over 400 pesos ($8.25) for a kilo of pork belly, more than double the norm. The rise has spurred inflation, which hit a two-year high in January …

And that photo:

This is an amazing amount of japery for any story, much less one this short. Apparently the writer felt that pigs are irresistibly silly, even when the story includes a threat to the national dish.

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