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Taiwanese humor

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:32

As I'm getting more and more acquainted with the Chinese language I also get more fascinated by it and humor is always a great way to learn. Therefore, this post is dedicated to the kind of humor that is (language aspects aside: unfortunately) quite popular these days.

Besides the typical 新年快樂 (Xin nian kuai le), which simply means Happy New Year, there are a number of idioms that Taiwanese normally like to use to bestow on others or the people living in their own house, such as:

萬事如意 (Wan shi ru yi) - May you have all your wishes
心想事成 (Xin xiang shi cheng) - May your wishes become true
財源滾滾 (Cai yuan gun gun) - Much wealth and richness

As it happens the Mandarin language only has about 400 syllables, which leads to an enormous number of homophones - and an equally large number of word plays.

For just that reason the idioms I mentioned above are not very popular this year because, without a change in sound, they can become the following less well-meaning yet rather applicable expressions:

萬市如憶 (Wan shi ru yi) - The Dow Jones at 10000 points is just a memory
薪餉四成 (Xin xiang shi cheng) - Salaries are cut by 60%
裁員滾滾 (Cai yuan gun gun) - The lay-off never stops (or: Laid off - get lost!)

On that note once again a Happy New Year 2009!

Happy New Year 2009