My friend Josh recently returned to Shanghai after finishing his masters and is looking for work. He sent me the following text message:
Josh: do you have the lively art of writing and the elements of style?
My first impulse was that he was passing on some kind of Chinglishy inquiry he had gotten. The conversation continued something like this:
me: [confidently playing along] i sure do!
Josh: Can I borrow them?
me: [having my doubts about Josh’s sense of humor] well, i might need them.
Josh: ok, i’m going to try to find them on fuzhou lu.
me: [thoroughly confused] huh??
As you may know, The Lively Art of Writing and The Elements of Style are two (quite well-known) books. In the context of the text message, which lacked proper punctuation and the like, I was totally thrown off.
Text messages: sly saboteurs of communication.