Archive for Puns

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)

(source)

"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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"Grass Mud Horse" and other homophonic puns threatened with extinction

Article by Manya Koetse, What's on Weibo (7/13/22):

Weibo Vows to Crack Down on Homophones and ‘Misspelled’ Words to “Stop Spread of Harmful Information”

Creative language targeted by Weibo. Is this great Chinese online tradition in danger of dying out?

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Chinese social media platform Weibo announced that it will crack down on the use of homophones and ‘misspelled words’ by netizens in order to create a more “healthy” online environment and stop the spread of “misinformation.”

The announcement became a trending topic on the platform on Wednesday, receiving over 180 million views.

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Half-vast ideas

A CNN interview with former National Security Adviser John Bolton about the January 6th hearings is getting lots of attention for his casual observation, "As somebody who has helped plan coups d'état — not here, but, you know, other places — it takes a lot of work."

Shortly before that (about 40 seconds into the above video clip), there was another notable line, in which Bolton dismissed the idea that Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results constituted "a carefully planned coup d'état":

That's not the way Donald Trump does things. It's rambling from one half-vast idea to another. One plan that falls through and another comes up.

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Orthographic-crosslingual pun

Xiaowan Cai received this picture from a friend of hers who is on exchange from Oxford University at Kyoto University.  Everything in all four languages on the sign looks pretty normal, except that there is a not easily detectable, extraordinary gaffe — or ingenious tour de force — in the Chinese.

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Ginger tea

[This is a guest post by Mark Swofford]

Those who have never lived in northern Taiwan during the winter may scoff at the idea that 11 °C (52 °F) can seem miserably cold. But cold it is here nevertheless, especially during a week of seemingly endless rain.

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Can't work because of the Ukraine crisis

Article by Manya Koetse:

"Chinese Term ‘Wuxin Gongzuo’:

Can’t Focus on Work Due to Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Chinese netizens are so focused on the Russian attack on Ukraine that nobody can focus on work (wuxin gongzuo)."

What's on Weibo (2/24/22)                                                                         

Here's the new expression that has gone viral:

wū xīn gōngzuò

乌心工作

lit., "U[kraine] heart-mind work"

This is word-play for:

wúxīn gōngzuò

无心工作

"don't have a mind to work; not in the mood for work")

where wū 乌 is short for "Wūkèlán 乌克兰" (transcription of "Ukraine") and stands for "wú 无" ("no; not; without; do not have"), hence "wúxīn gōngzuò 无心工作" ("do not have the mind for work")

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Another multilingual, multiscriptal sign in Taiwan

Mark Swofford sent in this photograph of a clever, curious sign at an automobile repair shop in Taiwan:

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Punny cookbook

Cover page of a cookbook published in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

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Happy Niú Year!

These days I'm getting so many greetings like this:

Chūnjié jiànkāng, niú zhuǎn qiánkūn.

春节健康,牛转乾坤。

"May you be healthy at this time of the Spring Festival, when the ox turns heaven and earth (the universe)."

The first part of this Lunar New Year's (February 12, 2021) greeting is transparent and easy to understand, but the second part makes you stop and wonder, "What?  How and why does the ox do that?"

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Soused noodles / face

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

An unfortunate cultural misunderstanding has occurred in the attached image:

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Juicy chicken

Mark Swofford sent this photograph of a dish on a menu in a Taiwanese restaurant chain:

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