Chinese language is difficult — an example

Paviavio

I have to admit that the Chinese language is difficult to learn. Here is an example (note that this example has been made easier by adding punctuations, spaces and carriage returns to the original essay) by Yuen Ren Chao:

Shi Shi shi shi shi
Shishi shishi Shi Shi, shi shi, shi shi shi shi.
Shi shishi shi shi shi shi shi shi.
shi shi, shi shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi, shi Shi Shi shi shi.
Shi shi shi shi shi, shi shi shi, shi shi shi shi shishi.

Shi shi shi shi shi shi, shi shishi.
Shishi shi, Shi shi shi shi shishi.
Shishi shi, Shi shi shi shi shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi, shi shi shi shi shi shi, shi shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi shi shi.


Is it readable? Sure, I hear you. The sound “shi” has four tones (1)shī (2)shí (3)shǐ (4)shì (thanks to Pinyin.info) and these shi’s are not the same. Ok, let me add the tones:

Shi Shi shi shi shi
shíshǐ shīshì shīshì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
shì shīshì shí shí shì shì shì shī.
shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
shì shí, shì shī shì shì shì.
shì shì shì shí shī, shì shī shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshǐ.
shíshǐ shī, shì shǐ shì shì shíshǐ.
shíshǐ shì, shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī shī.
shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
shì shì shì shì.

I don’t think it is better in any way. Here is more about this example: its Chinese version and English translation by famous Chinese blogger Wang Jianshuo. Based on his translation, here is my version:

The Story of Shi’s eating lion
A poet with last name Shi lives in a room made of stone,
Eagers to eat lions, and swears to eat ten lions.
Shi often goes to market to see lions.
At ten o’clock, it happens that ten lions come to market.
At this time, it happens that Shi comes to the market.
Shi looks at and recognizes the ten lions, and used the power of arch, make the ten lions die.
Shi picked up the bodies of the ten lions, and take to the stone room.
The stone room is wet, Shi asks servant to wipe the stone room.
The stone room is wiped. Shi starts to try to eat the bodies of the ten lions.
When he starts eating, he finds out that there are actually ten stone lion bodies.
Try to write down this event.

Of course, this is an exaggerate example. The daily Chinese language is not so ugly, but it can make new beginner very frustrated.

From this blog, I realized that there is a full description on wikipedia in English and many other languages. Not many people know that there are similar essays in Chinese.

Only Chinese can use three letters “s”, “h”, and “i” to write a meanful paragraph like this. Don’t you want to learn such a powerful language?

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