Chinese are sending literally billions of Chinese New Year greeting text messages this year as a way to æ‹œå¹´, meaning pay New Year’s respects to one another. They’re often in the form of cute little poems and word-plays. Last year was tiger-themed, of course (I pity the fÃº!), and this year it’s rabbits. Here’s one from one of my students:
å¿«ä¹â€œå…”â€youï¼Œå¹¸ç¦â€œå…”â€youï¼Œå¥åº·â€œå…”â€youï¼Œå¹³å®‰â€œå…”â€youï¼ŒLÇ YÇŽnÃ¡n æç¥æ‚¨åŠå®¶äººå¥åº·å¹¸ç¦ï¼Œå…”å¹´å¤§å‰ï¼Œä¸‡äº‹å¦‚æ„ï¼Œåˆå®¶æ¬¢ä¹ï¼
Happy “rabbit”* you, blessing “rabbit” you, health “rabbit” you, peace “rabbit” you, Li Yanan wishes you and family health and happiness, an extremely auspicious rabbit year, that all matters go according to your desires, a joyous household!
*Rabbit (å…”) in Chinese is pronounced “tÃ¹”, which sounds like “to” in English, so the message actually says “health to you”, etc.
Here’s another one that I can’t translate (don’t be too shy to help me out in the comments!). It arranges some idioms sequentially 1 through 10; the first character of each expression is a number:
LÃ¹ YÃ¡n ç»™æ‚¨åŠæ‚¨çš„å®¶äººæ‹œå¹´ï¼ç¥æ„¿å¤§å®¶2011å¹´ä¸€å¸†é£Žé¡ºï¼ŒäºŒé¾™è…¾é£žï¼Œä¸‰ç¾Šå¼€æ³°ï¼Œå››å£å¹³å®‰ï¼Œäº”ç¦ä¸´é—¨ï¼Œå…å…å¤§é¡ºï¼Œä¸ƒæ˜Ÿé«˜ç…§ï¼Œå…«æ–¹æ¥è´¢ï¼Œä¹ä¹åŒå¿ƒï¼Œåå…¨åç¾Žã€‚æ–°å¹´å¿«ä¹ï¼ Happy New Year!
Lu Yan gives you and your family a New Year’s greeting! Wish everyone in 2011 favourable winds, rapid advancement, the auspiciousness of three sheep*, four seasons of peace, the Five Blessings arrive at your door, sixty-six** great smoothnesses, the Seven Stars’ brilliance, riches from all Eight directions, ninety-nine*** cooperativeness, complete and beautiful.
* I thought that there must be a word play here, but I asked two local friends and all they can guess is that it refers to the blessing one would receive in ancient times for sacrificing sheep.
** Six (å…) sounds like the first part part of the word for smoothly/without a hitch (é¡ºåˆ©).
*** Nine (ä¹) sounds the same as ä¹… (a long duration of time), and nine-nine (ä¹ä¹) is often used to symbolize “forever” because ä¹…ä¹… means a very long time. One Chinese friend of ours proposed to his girlfriend with 99 roses, for example.
If I get any more interesting ones, I’ll add them here. You can see last year’s Dr. Seuss-esque tiger year text here.