Scrambled strokes

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From the Facebook account of Wai-hung Wong:

All seven of the characters are miswritten, some more seriously than others.  Their ill-formed shapes contrast sharply with the stylish, smooth Latin letters of the English and the Spanish signs.

Even though all of the Chinese characters are full of mistakes, I'm a little bit surprised that I can still understand the whole Chinese sign, and without too much difficulty, because they have the rough shapes of what they should be, and I can understand the overall drift of the meaning, especially with the aid of the English and the Spanish.  Even the sixth character, which is seriously deformed, has the general construction of what it was meant to be.  See the "Selected readings" below for a couple of recent posts that analyze the construction of hanzi / kanji /hanja in such a way that makes it possible to predict what the writer was trying to do, but couldn't pull off accurately.

Here's what they were trying to write:

jùdà de hǎijǐng lùtái


"huge terrace with sea view"

The writer has a lot of chutzpah  to attempt to write such a notice that includes some difficult characters.

Selected readings

[Thanks to rit malors]


  1. Victor Mair said,

    December 25, 2023 @ 12:39 am

    From Yifei Yang:

    It is likely that whoever did the writing on this board doesn't know any Chinese, but somehow “figured it out” by imitating some fancy art fonts.

  2. Thomas said,

    December 25, 2023 @ 3:46 am

    The Chinese looks somewhat like what Midjourney produces when asked for Chinese writing. I'm surprised that one can make sense of this calligraphic fever dream. I for one could not read the second to last character.

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    December 25, 2023 @ 6:02 am

    "The writer has a lot of chutzpah to attempt to write such a notice that includes some difficult characters" — Never having studied written Chinese, I normally steer clear of writing (as opposed to typesetting) anything in Hanzi, but I decided to make an exception when asked to add my greeting to a birthday card for one of my wife’s members of staff. However, I decided to abort on encountering the character "樂", which I decided (almost certainly wisely) was well above my pay-grade, and fell back on Pinyin as I normally do …

  4. Victor Mair said,

    December 25, 2023 @ 7:59 am

    A wise decision, Philip, for if you had tried it would almost certainly have turned out all a jumble, and 樂 has only 15 strokes, 3 above average.

  5. Scott Mauldin said,

    December 26, 2023 @ 4:07 pm

    I would love to see someone who had no experience with the latin alphabet attempt to copy out text in the same way the person did the hanzi on this sign. I imagine we would get a similarly amusing rendition. I think it's safe to say that when one is copying out characters one has no familiarity with, one has no understanding of which are the "load bearing" strokes as it were, i.e. which elements can be stretched or squished without impacting meaning. Take the final character of the sign as an example – the bottom radical is, to the untrained observer "just a square". How is someone to know that it cannot be interchanged with any other ornate square like they have done in the sign?

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