Archive for Puns

Cetacean needed

From Philip Taylor:

A nice pun on Wikipedia’s ubiquitous "citation needed"

Wikipedia's list of cetaceans, which reads (in part):

Tamanend's bottlenose dolphin Tursiops erebennus
Cope, 1865
NE Unknown     [cetacean needed]

Lovely pun indeed!

Tamanend's bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops erebennus) is a species of bottlenose dolphin that inhabits coastal waters in the eastern United States. This species was previously considered a nearshore variant of the common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus.


Tamanend's bottlenose dolphin does indeed belong to the Infraorder Cetacea.

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Taiwanese pun on a curry shop sign

Photograph of a sign on a curry shop in Banqiao District, New Taipei City:

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The politics of dried mango in Taiwan

No sooner have we addressed "The politics of frozen garlic in Taiwan" (1/11/24) than we now must look at the implications of dried mango for the current election in that island nation.  Here we will not be studying the obscene usage (gàn) that "dry" (gān) often gets mixed up with.  For those who are interested in that topic, which Language Log has been following since 2006), check out the last two items in "Selected readings") below.

Today's mango excitement derives from a pun based on the expression "dried mango" (mángguǒ gān 芒果乾); it has nothing to do with "$%#@!" mango.  The near pun is for "wángguó gǎn 亡國感" ("sense of national subjugation"), where wáng 亡 means "perish; death; die", though in this phrase, "subjugation" has become the usual translation.  Of course, guó 國, means "nation; state", and note that the "K" of KMT (Kuomintang [Wade-Giles romanization of 國民黨] "Nationalist Party") or the "G" of GMD (Guómíndǎng [Pinyin romanization of the same name]) is that same word, guó 國 ("nation; state").

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The politics of frozen garlic in Taiwan

From Nick Kaldis:

This article begins with a brief reference to the chanting of ‘frozen garlic’ ("凍蒜" dongsuan, Taiwanese pronunciation for "當選" dangxuan "to get elected") in campaign rallies for Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections in two days.


‘Frozen Garlic!’ Taiwan Likes Its Democracy Loud and Proud

At the island’s election rallies, warming up the crowd for candidates is crucial. “You have to light a fire in their hearts,” one host says.

By Chris Buckley and Amy Chang Chien; NYT (1/11/24) Photographs and Video by Lam Yik Fei

Since the NYT is between a high firewall (you can't even see the title of the article), I also provide this link to the whole article at MCLC (Modern Chinese Literature and Culture) Resource Center (The Ohio State University).

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My foci cup

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Vulgar Cantonese elegantly displayed

This curious Cantonese couplet appeared on Weibo today:

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Bilingual wordplay on a Taipei sign

From Tom Mazanac:

I came across this sign on the subway recently:

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Some recent news and posts from

OMG, it’s nougat (4/15/23) — "OMG" borrowed into Mandarin

A long post on puns, multiscriptal writing, and the difficulties of Hanzi.

Puns piled upon puns.

Microsoft Translator and Pinyin (4/15/23)

Microsoft's not very good character-to-Pinyin conversion.

They have the resources and could surely do better.

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Running from China

The following image is from a guest post on the Tangle newsletter (3/3/23) that comes from a Chinese dissident who recently fled to the U.S.:

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The difficulty of expressing "nothing"

This is a clever attempt to write a spring couplet (chūnlián 春聯), not in the usual Sinoglyphs / Chinese characters, but in pictographs:


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Winnie the Pooh in a bottle

Netizens in Taiwan are having fun sharing a photo of a beverage promotion that comes with a Winnie doll in a bottle.

(source of photo and article in Chinese)

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RUN = wrong

Last spring, when Shanghai was in the midst-of a harsh, months-long lockdown, so many people were thinking of running away from the city that they even developed a "RUN-ology" (rùnxué 潤學, i.e., how to escape and go abroad), where "RUN" is a Chinese pun for English "run".

Original meanings of Mandarin rùn 潤:

  1. wet; moist
  2. sleek
  3. to moisten; to wet
  4. to polish (a piece of writing, etc.); to touch up
  5. profit (excess of revenue over cost)


"RUNning away from Shanghai" (5/13/22)

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Typos as a means for circumventing censorship

Article in China Digital Times (CDT):

"List of Derogatory Nicknames for Xi Leaked Amid Crackdown on 'Typos'”, by Joseph Brouwer (7/20/22)

In all of my many years of following China's censorship saga, I have never seen the government so determined to expunge even the slightest expression of dissent or disapproval on the part of citizens.  The reason is fairly simple:  at the 20th Party Congress to be convened this fall, Chairman / President / General Secretary Xi Jinping is going to attempt something unprecedented in the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since the time of its founder, Mao Zedong:, viz., to make himself Paramount Leader for life (no term limits!).  Since not everybody — including members of other factions in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — is pleased with this proposed arrangement, tensions are running high, to put it mildly.

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