A Chinese Character for Sad People

26 May 2008

Sam Flemming does a great job on the China Internet Word of Mouth Blog, but I have just run across my favorite article yet: Netizens find new channels for self expression.

Sam explains how net-savvy Chinese have re-appropriated the character , using it for what it looks like (a distraught face), rather than for what it originally meant (“bright,” apparently). Sam explains various dimensions of the phenomenon on his blog, but this is really cool for linguistic reasons. It’s not often that a non-pictographic character (with a rather abstract meaning) is reenlisted as a pictographic character and used on a relatively large scale!

Here’s that character again, a bit bigger:

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Pan Ji, you once “worked some magic” on my computer that allowed it to display kanji w/o sacrificing English characters (or otherwise messing up the computer). What did you do? Could I — and others who want to see the kanji in your blog entries — do it again? Thanks.

    Co-Author of three wonderful persons

  2. John, thanks for the shout out. I thought you might appreciate the linguistic aspect of this post 😉

  3. My favorite recent discoveries are the two computer mice:

    甴曱

    http://iask.sina.com.cn/b/3476959.html

  4. I recently came across a really cool site with a ton of funny jokes/videos, entitled 一日一囧。

    I wrote a little about one video, featuring the best Chinese joke ever, the Bicycle joke.

  5. 很吃惊~
    Nice to meet you:
    I was astonished when i first visited, I thought it was another Chinese who has a very good command of English by finding the blog title Sinosplice is a exactly translation of the Chinese word 华结. However, when i deeply explored your blog, I found that you are NOT A CHINESE BUT A FOREIGNER! Then i realized that i should have be astonished that the blog author is a foreigner who has a very good command of Chinese! Really amazing~!

  6. Hey there. I have a favor to ask of someone. I recently received a postcard from Hong Kong, completely written in Chinese. Could someone with the awesome ability to read and understand Chinese hop on over to my blog and translate it for me? Thanks in advance. I really appreciate it.

    The character may look like a sad face, but I must admit, it’s one of the cutest sad faces I’ve ever seen. 🙂

  7. I first learned about 囧 from a post over at paper republic by Eric Abrahamsen and was able to suitably impress my Chinese friends. I like how this is now moving its way through the English language Chinese blogosphere. It’s such a cool character too!

  8. here is more like this:崮 king of 囧,莔 queen of 囧 and more about 囧

  9. I’d be careful of using “cool” slang picked up from Chinese. Just today I had someone tell me “keep walking”, which he said was internet slang. It’s the slogan of the Johnny Walker whiskey advertisements – pretty much the opposite of cool.

    Tim P.: kanji are Japanese characters. To view Chinese characters in Windows, see here: http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/handson/user/xpintlsupp.mspx#E4

  10. 很吃惊~ Nice to meet you: I was astonished when i first visited, I thought it was another Chinese who has a very good command of English by finding the blog title Sinosplice is a exactly translation of the Chinese word 华结. However, when i deeply explored your blog, I found that you are NOT A CHINESE BUT A FOREIGNER! Then i realized that i should have be astonished that the blog author is a foreigner who has a very good command of Chinese! Really amazing~!

    Hu.Franklin

    为什么看到一个会讲中文的老外让你很吃惊但是看到一个会讲英语的中国人不会让你很astonished?

  11. Ben,

    大家都知道只有中华民族才会用中文啊,理所当然。外国人能写中文,太棒了!你们还能做出什么玩艺?能跳舞,唱歌吗?你认识大山吗?

  12. Chip man you are in trouble. You have just breached every “things can’t be said before laowai” code. Good luck, you will need it.

  13. Completely off topic, but all of a sudden i am getting advertisments from your chinesepod rivals on here. quite surreal.

  14. changye Says: May 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Hi guys,

    I don’t know the situation in other countries, but it seems the peoples in China, Korea, and Japan tend to think that their languages are very difficult to learn for foreign people. The reasons I can come up with are as follows,

    1. They know that their languages are relatively minor. Even Mandarin is a small language outside both China and overseas Chinese society, compared with English or French.

    2. Chinese and Japanese people think that mastering Chinese characters is very difficult for foreign people, beause it is difficult even for them.

    3. They generally take deep pride in their countries and cultures, therefore they often think their languages are relatively “special” in the world.

    4. On the other hand, they have an inferiority complex toward Western countrie, and they try to ease it by thinking “Foreigners can’t master my language.”

    5. Last but not least, anyway, they don’t have much opportunities to see foreign people, or people who can speak a few languages, in their countries. And they know they are not good at speaking foreing languages, which consequently creats a sense that foreign people also can’t easily master their languages.

    I’m a Japanese.

  15. Chip-
    I really hope you’re being sarcastic. If so, your comment is pretty hilarious. If not, you better hope your assertion that only Chinese people can read Chinese is accurate.

  16. Ben,

    Hehe, yeah I’m being sarcastic.

  17. Chip-
    That’s what I had figured…now about Mark Rosewell…

  18. It’s used in the movie title “Lost on Journey”: 人在囧途 as well.. which is a hilarious movie similar to “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. 🙂

  19. […] haven’t been to Sinosplice for some time, but I found this interesting entry (source article here) about the character 囧 (jiǒng) which originally meant “bright”, but is […]

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