Tag: funny


Nov 2007

Recycling When It Counts

Yesterday a Canadian was giving me a hard time at work because I threw away my plastic drink bottle instead of putting it in the recycling box. I thought this was kind of funny. Oftentimes in China you see waste receptacle with one side labeled “for garbage” and the other side labeled “for recycling.” Then you look inside the thing and you realize that both sides just go to one big garbage bag. Now, tell me… are you really going to make sure you throw your recyclables in one side of the garbage bag, and your garbage in the other?

At most other places, anytime you throw anything out in China, it’s going to be picked through later for valuable recyclables. I simply threw away my plastic bottle in the office because I felt very sure it would be rescued for recycling by someone whose livelihood depended on it, and they’d be going through the same garbage whether I threw away that bottle or not.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m all for recycling. But what’s the point in empty gestures when you know what’s going on? Let’s recycle when it counts.

Steve at Praxis Language told a good story which illustrated this.

> A friend was taking a cruise on the Yangtze River in China. He was enjoying the cruise, but disgusted to see many passengers throwing their garbage overboard, into the river. Determined to do the right thing, he made sure to always walk all the way to the far end of the deck to the one garbage can to dispose of all his trash. It was a pain, and he was only one person vs. the littering masses, but it was the right thing to do.

> Later in the cruise, the garbage can filled up. A custodian went over to take care of it. To the friend’s horror, he lifted the garbage can and upended its contents into the Yangtze River.

Hmmm, on the one hand, always “recycling” (even when it’s pointless) reinforces good habits. On the other hand…


Sep 2007

Chinese Test for Foreigners: A Fantasy

So while some of us foreigners are feeling eager to be tested by the HSK, a portion of the Chinese population is wishing a more arduous kind of standardized testing upon us:

> When China becomes more powerful, we’ll make all the foreigners take band 4 or 6 exams! Classical Chinese would be too simple; it’ll all have to be answered using calligraphy brushes, but that’s going easy on them. Going hard on them would be a knife and a turtle shell for each person, and they have to carve in the oracle-bone characters! The essay topic would be: discuss the Three Represents! For the listening comprehension section, it would all be Jay Chou‘s songs, two listens for “Shuangjiegun” and one for “Juhua Tai“. We’ll tell them this is a totally normal speed that Chinese people speak at! Reading comprehension will be all government work reports, the spoken component will require Beijing Opera, and the practical component will be wrapping zongzi.

The original:

> 等咱中国强大了,全叫老外考中文四六级!文言文太简单,全用毛笔答题,这是便宜他们。惹急了一人一把刀一个龟壳,刻甲骨文!论文题目就叫:论三个代表!到了考听力的时候全用周杰伦的歌,《双截棍》听两遍,《菊花台》只能听一遍。告诉他们这是中国人说话最正常的语速!阅读理解全是政府工作报告,口试要求唱京剧,实验就考包粽子。

I love the humor with which the poster handled (1) the frustrations of being forced to learn English through a horrible impractical exam, and (2) the ridiculous complexity of his own native tongue, while (3) it was all set against the backdrop of China’s coming ascendancy as a world superpower, which isn’t a joke at all.

Thanks to John B for finding this.


Aug 2007

¿Dónde están mis pantalones?

Funny English on t-shirts is the norm in Shanghai, but I rarely see anything in Spanish (especially comprehensible Spanish). So I had to share this one, which gave me a chuckle:

Amusing shirt

Translation: “Where are my pants?”

I didn’t intentionally leave the girl’s lower half out of the photo, but yes, she actually was wearing pants.


Aug 2007

Learn Chinese with Real Chinaman

I just found these on YouTube. Hilarious. Just watch.

The amazing thing is that there are apparently over 30 of them! The camera work and pedagogy don’t get any better over time.

The full description of the first one led me to believe that the whole thing is just mocking a well-meaning old Chinese man, but then why would it go on for over 30 lessons? Plus more and more effort is clearly going into the on-screen presentation with the later clips.

I don’t get it.


Jun 2007

Misheard in Chinese

My family has a ball with misheard English (“dancing plaid” being a favorite), but a whole new world of hilarious confusion opens up when you switch to a different language. These two were heard the other day:

香橙 (“fragrant orange”) mistaken for 香肠 (“sausage”) as an ice cream flavor

谢谢光临 (“thank you for coming”) mistaken for 西瓜 (“watermelon”) as a farewell greeting

Given China’s myriad of dialects/topolects/languages and the resulting substandard varieties of Mandarin, one can expect this kind of thing to be quite commonplace in the PRC. The miscommunications seem especially bizarre when you translate them into English. Have you heard any good ones in Chinese?


Mar 2007

Democracy Invented in China

Long Legged Fly is at it again with his Onion-style articles. (This has been done before, most notably by the not-updated-since-2006 Gou-rou.com, but I especially like the ones that Long Legged Fly chooses to write.) This time it’s CHINA DISCOVERS DEMOCRACY ACTUALLY INVENTED IN CHINA.

An excerpt:

> As with their invention of the modern game of soccer, the probability that two different civilizations could separately invent such dauntingly complex things as voting or kicking a ball around is so small as to be almost impossible. “The only likely conclusion,” says Professor Wang, “is that these things, like pretty much everything in the world, were invented in China, and spread to the West through trade routes or magic.”



Mar 2007

My Own Crayon

I’m a bit late in calling attention to this, but it looks like I got my name on a Chinese crayon. Well, a Sinocidal crayon, anyway.

What they call “John Pasden Gator Green” is affectionately (?) referred to by my friends as “Sinosplice Green,” or, to the slightly nerdier, #336633.

I’ve been pondering a redesign lately. I won’t have time to do it until late summer, but I’m thinking… Less green. More white. More space. Wider than 800 pixels.


Mar 2007

My Antidiuretic Presence

It was early evening, shortly after dinner. I was on the outskirts of Shanghai trying to find a cab to get home. As I walked the streets I was vaguely aware of a guy standing facing a wall, having a conversation with another nearby guy in a car. I’ve learned that (especially in China) it’s best not to pay attention to guys facing walls on the side of the street, so I never gave him more than a glance. As I passed by, though, I couldn’t help but overhear a part of the two men’s conversation.

> Guy in car: [something annoyed and impatient-sounding]

> Guy at wall: Hold on! I just saw a foreigner so I can’t pee!

I couldn’t help but laugh. Up until that point I hadn’t realized that one of my laowai superpowers was my antidiuretic presence.


Feb 2007

Pulp Fiction Apartment Hunting

There was a great entry at Jottings from the Granite Studio this week which combines Pulp Fiction lines with the very frustrating experience of trying to find a decent apartment in Beijing. Here’s a quick sample.

> Bring out the Gimp.

> The landlord was sweet as pie. She was wonderful. Her boyfriend was charming, all smiles, a real modern guy with “Starbucks” latte in hand. And then in walked “Auntie.” She was a dumpy, troll-like figure with a sour, peasant visage that betrayed no sense of warmth or mirth. It was quite a miracle when I saw her face actually begin to brighten into a grin when she met me… if only I knew.

Check out the whole entry: Pulp Fiction and Apartment hunting in Beijing. It’s great to see creative stuff like this, especially when it’s this funny.


Feb 2007

Doomsday Family Gift Exchange

Over at ChinesePod we’ve all been amused lately at the comments left by Japanese learner “Changye.” He has taken to posting rather poetic musings. Here are his thoughts on our recent Valentine’s Day Gift lesson:

> Doomsday is just around the corner.
Now I am eating chocolate in front of my PC.
But I am sorry that it is “not” a Valentine’s Day gift.
I have no choice but to count on the family gift exchange.



Jan 2007

Boo and Reboo

Some definitions:


1. A sound uttered to show contempt, scorn, or disapproval. (source: Dictionary.com)

2. Boo is a term that is derived from the French word “beau” meaning beautiful. In 18th century England it meant an admirer, usually male. It made it’s way into Afro-Caribean language perhaps through the French colonisation of some Caribean islands. [Boo now means] girl or boyfriend. (source: UrbanDictionary.com)


1. rumble (source: Dictionary.com)

2. Something that is cool, is reboo. Reboo is a word used mainly by people(s) who eat tacos, nachos and burritos. But you can use it as well. (source: UrbanDictionary.com)

3. The name of a cafeteria-style Chinese restaurant (source: the streets of Shanghai)



Jan 2007

Fame and Celebrity in the New China

It’s not new, but it was too good to go unlinked to:



> CHENGDU, CHINA—Bartholomew Franks knew he was a Seriously Important Person the first time he was recognized on the street by a complete stranger.

> “I was just walking around, thinking about velcro, when suddenly this complete stranger walked up to me, all smiling, and said ‘hallo.’ ” The man was a local seller of steamed buns who, Mr. Franks explains, recognized him by the fact that he wasn’t Chinese, and had a big nose. “‘Chang bizi’ that’s what he kept on saying to me, laughing. ‘Chang bizi.’ I thought it was pretty cool, so I gave him five kuai and a flourish of my hair, which is long, and flaxen”

> [read whole story]

From Long Legged Fly.


Jan 2007

Yellow Snow

Q: What do these Chinese women have in common?

yellow snow

A: They all have the Chinese name 黄雪, which in English means “Yellow Snow.” (Comedic gold, this is!) The surname Huang is fairly common, and it’s not unusual for girls’ names to include the character 雪.

If you want to see more Chinese yellow snow, you can do a Baidu search for 黄雪. Unfortunately, the term more often seems to refer to snow in northern China (and Korea) that mixes with the yellow dust. Not as funny.

Thanks to John B for bringing this Chinese name to my attention!


Dec 2006

Soccer in China

There’s a hilarious entry on a blog called Long Legged Fly about playing soccer in China. An excerpt:

> But the best part of this whole experience is that you cannot play soccer on this field without getting hurt. The ground is too hard. The ground is too slippery. The ground has too many divets and weird ditch like things that zigzag across it. Plus, the Chinese players are very grab-happy and kick-your-shins-happy. So essentially what the Chinese have done is invent something that yet again the world can imitate–an open-air factory that produces injuries. Playing here I have injured my groin, my wrist, my left ankle, my right ankle, a number of my toes, my shins, my face, as well as other parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed until I got them injured, such as my bozon and my kleptok.

Check out the whole thing.


Dec 2006

Lin Danda

Commenter Marco e-mailed me this great visual Chinese joke (translation and explanation follows):

Lin Danda

Translation of the joke (and you do need the visual above to understand it):

> A primary school teacher was returning test papers. She called out again and again, “Lin Danda! Lin Danda!” But none of the children came forward to collect the test paper.

> Finally, the teacher asked, “is there anyone that hasn’t gotten a test paper back? Please come to the front.”

> One little boy unhappily approached the teacher at the front of the classroom. He said to her, “Teacher, my name isn’t Lin Danda. I’m Chu Zhongtian.”

Sorry, if you can’t read the Chinese characters, there’s nothing to get. For those that want the explanation, read on.



Oct 2006

Thank you, Andy Lau

Thank you, Andy Lau (刘德华), for one of the funniest Chinese music videos I have ever seen. Greg and I witnessed this amazing recording of a live concert while lunching at the “Kowloon Ice House” in Zhongshan Park’s “Cloud Nine” (龙之梦) mall. A search on YouTube turned up nothing, but thankfully the Tudou.com results had a clip of the exact video we watched:

For those of you too lazy or too foolish to watch that clip, let me recap the hilarity contained therein:

1. Andy Lau is wearing a white cowboy hat and a wifebeater-blouse.
2. The song is a Cantonese version of “I Hate Myself for Loving You” called 我恨我痴心 (literally, “I Hate My Infatuation”).

Well, that’s all, really. It’s funny.

Oh, and just in case you need it, there’s also a karaoke version of 我恨我痴心 set to random boy/girl scenes that have absolutely nothing to do with the song.


Sep 2006

Church Boy Badtones

On ChinesePod we recently did a podcast lesson about being misunderstood because of incorrect tones, and then getting corrected (in Chinese). It prompted quite a few comments, including this amusing little anecdote in a comment from lostinasia:

> The only time I can recall when I had a substitution problem like this was asking for sauce (jiang4 [酱]) and instead saying ginger (jiang1 [姜]). (Ginger wasn’t totally out of place with the hot pot, but I still wished I’d received the sauce). Oh, and for the longest time at tea stands I asked for “jiao4 tang2″ [教堂] (=church) tea instead of “jiao1 tang2″ [焦糖] (=caramel) tea. They understood me, given the context, but when I finally got it right they commented that for weeks they’d been enjoying my mistake, and I’d become known as “Church Boy”, or something like that. But there are countless other times when people simply haven’t understood me, and my tones are surely a big part of that.

Oh yes, I’ve certainly been there.

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