Monday, September 01, 2008

New Chinese characters

[Sorry for those who've been waiting for another blog post--I've mostly abandoned this blog but I "needed" to post something on Language Log, and this seemed the way to do it.]

On the MTR (the Hong Kong subway system) there were random signs like the ones below.

The sign purports to define a new Chinese character, newly coined, though constructed from pieces of other characters. A HK native informant tells me that the cultural reference is to Shaolin Soccer, a very popular comedy about a Kung Fu group that comes together to fight evil and win soccer tournaments. Apparently they had some made-up words there, and this was one of them.

Immediately below, in white, it gives a character dictionary entry, with sound "kwen2" (the 2 refers to the tone), and then a mock definition.

In black, it mentions that 3,529,000 people will be learning this in three weeks, and that you can advertise.

The sign appears to be advertising the concept of advertising on the MTR--I'm not sure, but I can't figure out any other purpose.


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