One character said to the other…

I was recently introduced to a cute collection of Chinese jokes based on the small differences between similar Chinese characters. Some of them can even be appreciated without much knowledge of Chinese. I’ve translated a few of those below.

> 个 said to 人: I can’t keep up with you youngsters, and I can’t get anywhere without my cane.

> 日 said to 曰: Looks like it’s time for someone to go on a diet.

> 比 said to 北: Come on, now, you’re a couple! No more of this ridiculous divorce talk!

> 人 said to 从: You guys still haven’t undergone the separation surgery?

> 木 said to 术: Don’t think you’re so hot just because you have that beauty mark…

> 尺 said to 尽: The results are in, sis. You’re going to have twins!

> 由 said to 甲: Doesn’t practicing One-finger Zen make you really tired?

(Read the full list in the original Chinese.)


John Pasden

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


  1. these are quite clever.

  2. Da Shan better watch out, because there is a new kid in town.

  3. What does Å£ say to °ë?

    “be careful.”

  4. Hui Mao Says: April 5, 2005 at 4:43 am


    I didn’t get that… Can you explain?

  5. I like those. I’ll have to get out my Chinese dictionary & see if I can come up with a few.

    It reminds me of what my brother & I used to do with playing cards: we’d find a deck with a picture of people (like ballet dancers) on the back & see how many captions we could come up with.

  6. Hui Mao,

    Å£ is like °ë with a missing dot on the right side, aka. a missing horn.

  7. Man, I like the punch line. Not often does a collection of jokes winds up with a punch line.

  8. Hui Mao Says: April 5, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    Tian, got it! 🙂

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    This is a daily collection of links, some with commentary, to news stories and interesting blog posts. It will be updated throughout the day with a new timestamp for the updates. Scroll down for today’s other posts. Asia’s already pushing its candidate…

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