Gratitude to the Party

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Posted on Twitter by Xi Van Fleet (click on the "X" in the black circle at the top right of the photo to see the whole sign):

fùmǔ ēnqíng néng bào wán


One can repay one's parents' kindness,


dǎng de ēnqíng bào bù wán


One can never fully repay the Party's kindness.


The other script above the Chinese characters is the Yi syllabary.


Selected readings

"Topolectal traffic sign" (3/6/17)

"The languages on Chinese banknotes" (9/16/13)


[h.t. Jeff DeMarco; thanks to Mark Swofford, Mark Hansell, and Richard Warmngton]


  1. Philip Taylor said,

    February 25, 2022 @ 8:01 am

    "click on the "X" in the black circle at the top right of the photo to see the whole sign" — or if you would prefer Twitter not to know via which route you reached the image, you could use this tracking-redacted link instead.

  2. Jenny Chu said,

    February 25, 2022 @ 9:48 am

    "You will never be able to repay the Party for what it has done to you." Yeah, sounds about right.

    Oh, wait – did I get a preposition wrong?

  3. Victor Mair said,

    February 25, 2022 @ 9:54 am

    From Mark Bender:

    Standard Northern Yi (Nuosu) script.

  4. Peter Grubtal said,

    February 25, 2022 @ 2:05 pm

    Have been trying to find the philosopher's saying along the lines of …you should be grateful to your dictator: he could take everything away from you, including your life, just like that, and here you are still alive. Everything you owe to him.

  5. Pete Tsayolo said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 10:19 am

    @Philip Taylor
    Even better, you could replace "" by any of the Nitter instances listed here, for example:

    Or, for just the picture and caption, without others' comments:

    Briefly and vaguely explained here (Ctrl+F "bird"; they have similar services for stuff other than Twitter, too); technical readme with links here; (as of 2022-03-02) very brief and vague Wikipedia article draft here (but with links).

    Better yet, ask the poster for permission to host their photo at Language Log.

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 1:43 pm

    Peter — "Briefly and vaguely explained here" — do you have any idea why it is called "" ? I am one of those annoying anally-retentive people who insist on an explanation for a new word before they are willing to allow it to enter their idiolect …

  7. Pete Tsayolo said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 3:00 pm

    My guess is somebody checked the ever decreasing resource of single syllables that more or less obey Standard European phonotactics and don't have an army of brand lawyers behind them against available / affordable domain names, grabbed "tromf", and then backronamed it from "the reality of me" to give it some meaning.

  8. Philip Taylor said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 7:31 pm

    Ah. I see. I wasn't aware of "" either, but it seems clear that the two are more than co-incidentally related. And despite my anal retentiveness I can recognise "trom" as an acronym of "the reality of me", although I was unaware that there was once a film of that name.

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