Punning in the New Year

04 Jan 2012

My friend Andy (the guy who did the WordPress Sinosplice Tooltips plugin) wished me a happy New Year in the following way recently:

> Happy New 一二!

At the risk of spoiling the joke, allow me to explain…

1. Pinyin “yī èr” sounds remarkably like “year.”
2. This is 2012, so the characters for “1 2” are singularly appropriate.

Good job, Andy! You only get to use this pun once every 100 years, everybody, so get on it!


Last year, the punny wish was:

> Happy Chinese New Year you!

1. Pinyin “tù” sounds nearly identical to “to.”
2. 兔子, sometimes abbreviated to , is the Chinese word for “rabbit.”

This year (year of the dragon), friend and ex-co-worker Jason made the following punny wish:

> Wishing you a and prosperous New Year!

1. Pinyin “lóng” sounds reasonably similar to the English word “long.”
2. (simplified: ) is the Chinese word for “dragon.”


Jason also added the following variation for Star Trek fans:

> Live and prosper this New Year!


Finally, I’d like to give props to my dad, who always liked the following pun. It wasn’t until recent years that I could actually verify that this pun really does work in Chinese:

> How Long is a Chinese name.

The pun doesn’t work so well when written. The joke is to say it in such a way that it’s perceived as a question, when in fact, it’s a statement:

> 郝龙 (Hao Long) is a Chinese name.

(This “joke” doesn’t work nearly as well in China, where everyone knows that Chinese names are typically 2-3 characters/syllables, and as many as 4 on rare occasion, and everyone would easily recognize 郝龙 as a Chinese name anyway.)

OK, I better shut up now before I lose all my readers.

Happy New Year!

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John Pasden

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

Comments

  1. Too embarrassed to even say this…
    Who is the president of China (胡)
    When is the premier of China (温)
    (groan)
    Fortunately this one will soon be out of date…

  2. When it was the Ox year, than there was also a nice pun: Happy 牛 year!

  3. […] Punning in the New Year – Welcome in the new year Mandarin style with some Chinese puns. I'm not saying they're good. […]

  4. You’ve made my night! Although I had to try and explain why I was laughing out loud while on my iPad…

  5. Nice one!! Actually I will use this one a lot now 😉

    U have a nice new year too.

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