The International Language

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Here at the 2008 Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong, it’s not love; it’s commerce — or, more accurately, bartering.

Pin trading, long a popular Olympic pastime, is alive and well here. People stud their credential-card lanyards with pins, thereby becoming walking bazaars of sorts. Would-be traders eye the merchandise and offer up pins as prospective swaps. You don’t need to speak the language to conduct a transaction. Some of the most enthusiastic pin traders here are the young Chinese women who, as part of the massive BOCOG work force, staff the shuttle-bus stops, information desks, and security checkpoints

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