Writing frustration

« previous post | next post »

Somebody posted this in a WeChat group:

The character they were struggling to write is this:

xiāo 宵 ("night; evening; dark")

Here it combines with yuán 元 ("first; primary; chief; principal") to form the word yuánxiāo 元宵 ("Lantern Festival", but in this sentence it means a super delicious kind of sweet dumpling made of glutinous rice flour that people eat on the Lantern Festival).

The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the night of the 15th of the first month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar and marks the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.  This year it falls on February 11.

This is the whole sentence they were trying to write on the note pictured above:

Qǐng nǐmen chī yuánxiāo 请你们吃元宵
("[I'd like to] invite you to eat glutinous rice dumplings [to celebrate the Lantern Festival]")

That is followed by:

Suànle  bù qǐngle 算了 不请了
("Forget it    I'm not gonna invite you")

Remember this?

"Dumpling ingredients and character amnesia" (10/18/14)

The person who struggled with the character after 元 in the note pictured at the top of this post could have written 元xiāo and everybody would have understood.

[h.t. Randy Alexander]


  1. WSM said,

    February 11, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

    It's interesting that this seems to have been circulating quite a while as a (rather amusing) meme: see http://www.yzqcw.com/thread-49023-1-1.html for the same joke, clearly written by someone else, back in early 2016. I wish there was some actual Chinese commentary on the joke, it would be interesting how they appraise such issues concerning writing.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    February 12, 2017 @ 12:10 am

    It's also interesting that the order of the errors is different in the specimen noted by WSM. Moreover, they leave out one of the errors in this iteration and repeat one, leaving them with only two separate errors instead of the three here.

  3. Edwin Schmitt said,

    February 13, 2017 @ 5:29 am

    I've seen the exact same post for 夜宵 which can of course be used any time of year

RSS feed for comments on this post