Time for Chinese New Year celebrations. This is the year of the Monkey. In this article from the online China Times, the customary couplet (it's more of a singlet in this case) on red paper features an interlingual pun: the characters 金猴 ("golden monkey"), when read in Mandarin, are pronounced jīn hóu, which is a near homophone for the Taiwanese chin-hó 真好 ("truly good", i.e., "excellent"). Thus roughly the "peaceful golden monkey" becomes "peace is wonderful".
Archive for Puns
Michael Cannings sent in this photograph:
Mark Swofford called my attention to this Taipei restaurant, noting the risqué pun in its name: gālí niáng 咖哩娘 (lit., "curry mom"). The restaurant also has the Frenchified Western name "cari de madame".
It could conceivably be a pun for jiālǐ niàng 家裡釀 ("home brew"), but I suspect that Mark had something else in mind. Well, the proprietors tell part of the story themselves here, "A naughty name for insane curry". Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
This is what happens when copy editors type what they're feeling and then forget to take it out again before it goes online:
The city of Seoul, South Korea, has a new slogan. This is what it looks like:
Headline from the China Daily:
"China reigns in brutal police tactics" (9/9/03)
This hilarious misspelling causes China's widest circulating English-language newspaper accidentally to have a true headline.
It's a bit of a mystery how and why "outsiders" (wàidìrén 外地人) are referred to by Shanghainese as "hard disks / drives" (yìngpán 硬盘).
Intrigued, I asked around, and here are some of the replies I received.
Referring to its title as "Kochinglish", Kendall Willets called my attention to the following Korean TV show:
논란을 넘어 감동으로, 인생대반전 메이크오버쇼 Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Mazanec has been seeing a series of strange ads all over the Shanghai subway. They're for a company that does one-on-one oral English practice over Skype, called 51talk.com.
Joshua Harwood sent in the following photograph taken at a Samsung display in the major shopping center of Xinyi District, Taipei:
I have mentioned chinaSMACK before on Language Log, but have never featured it so directly as in this post. The reason is that this time there's an interesting language aspect to one of their articles that is hard to pass up.
chinaSMACK specializes in translating trenchant, amazing stories from the vast amount of traffic that flows through China's microblogs and on the internet more generally. Sometimes they are so bizarre and surreal that my initial reaction upon reading them — after being shocked senseless or laughing myself silly — is to dismiss them as Onionesque. But that is usually impossible because they are so well documented. In the present case, there is an initial news report and five stunning photographs. Because the photographs are so gross and graphic, just downright disgusting, I won't show them directly on Language Log (especially not during the holidays), but readers can go to the link and see them with their own eyes.
I was going to write "Xinhua brakes ban on puns". Upon reconsideration, I thought that would only lead to confusion, but it might at least have given an idea of how bad their pun is.
Carl Minzner tweeted:
Open violation of ban on wordplay! Name of new Chinese state website dedicated to Xi Jinping? 学习进行时
For the last few weeks, we have been pondering the ban on puns in the People's Republic of China: "When puns are outlawed …" (12/9/2014); "It's not just puns that are being banned in China" (12/7/14); "Punning banned in China"(11/29/14).
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Cantonese speakers are coming up with new words, most of them involving puns, practically every day: "New Cantonese word" (12/8/14).
The following is a guest post by Bob Bauer, who introduces us to yet another clever Hong Kong Cantonese punning expression.