Puns on the Streets of Shanghai

Recently I just happened to catch this wordplay on the streets of Shanghai around me:


年轻就是不一YOUNG / 不一样. (After reading this pun, go here.)


最高G密 / 最高机密 (“top secret”); G = = chicken. 鸡米 is a name for little chicken nuggets (often fried).


新视界 / 新世界

New World

Not a pun; just illustrating that 新世界 is a common phrase too. This hotel is just around the corner from the eye hospital above.


碧云公寓 (traditional characters are used in the photo): not a pun either; this just amused me because we foreigners have a habit of mixing up our tones. This apartment complex could easily become “Contraception Apartment” (避孕公寓) pronounced by a careless foreigner.


John Pasden

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


  1. Andrew Galbraith Says: May 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

    One of my favourites is the 食博汇 food court on the corner of Beijing Lu and Jiangning Lu. I believe it opened about a year or two before the Expo.

  2. jaen lee Says: May 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Hey join,I know your twitter,and you know,most chinese could not browse it,so would you think of join sina weibo? weibo.com

  3. Re ‘年轻就是不一YOUNG / 不一样’
    At least Chinese people have a model for pronouncing ‘Young’. A friend of mine 杨先生 is going to live in Australia and he told me that he will use the family name ‘Young’. He is sick of foreigners mangling his name, pronouncing Yang to rhyme with ‘twang’. Usually Chinese people keep their family name when living overseas and change their given name, but there is a case for changing the family name.

  4. They didn’t translate ‘Parisian spring’ 巴黎春天 for some reason in the 新世界酒店 New world hotel above for some reason.
    不一Young is cool though.

  5. David Moser Says: June 5, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Nice!! I’m surprised a hospital would actually engage in this kind of playful punning. A personal favorite is the translation of a fast food chain Mega-bites (itself a pun on “mega-bytes”), which is 大食代, (时代 = “era”, 食代 would be something like “food era”)

  6. These look like Typos, not puns.
    I mean, seriously, Chinese is a hard language!


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