Quiproquo is a French word (of Latin origin) for “misunderstanding”, in theatrical plays, it’s a way to create a twist of event, often to obtain a humorous outcome or tragicomedy. Too bad it’s not part of the English lexicon, but that shan’t prevent me from pretending that it does, hehe. 😛
Anyway! I’m feeling studious today, so let me share a cute little story in Chinese. It was forwarded by a friend who loves spamming me with all kinds of random stories, pictures and videos (Tibetan sky burial? Not again please.), so I usually ignore most of it, until that time where I actually got quizzed on the “spam of the day”.
Though it was a little embarrassing to face up with the fact that I don’t consume all of his messages (I guess the “Read” stamp isn’t enough to fake it), sent with the best intent in the world, I’m glad he called me on that day, and thereby forcing me to flex some of my Chinese reading muscles. 😅
This short reading exercise hides a few puns which are also a good way to gauge one’s knowledge of the Chinese language and Taiwanese culture. If you’re game enough, read on and try to figure out the quiproquos. Explanations are provided after the text. 🙂
接著，韓式泡菜遠遠望見台灣地瓜, 垂頭喪氣的走在隊伍的最後頭，感到相當訝異 ?!
The gist of the story is about a country taking drastic measures on the latest Korean craze, and deporting all Korean related products back to their home. Some unfortunate ones are caught lost in translation…
包心菜 is a vegetable that resembles cabbage. Cabbage in Chinese is 高麗菜, but 高麗 alone is also a term for Korea, so the poor 包心菜 is being mistaken as a Korean vegetable.
The township of 三星 in Ilan 宜蘭 is famous for its production of green onion, 蔥. Unfortunately for Mr. 蔥, 三星 is also the Chinese name of the Korean brand Samsung, thus implying that 蔥 is Made in Korea.
In appearance, there is no linguistic ambiguity with Mrs. Chocolate 巧克力, if only it wasn’t for the fact that she contains 含 ㄏㄢˊ some nuts 果仁 ㄍㄨㄛˇ ㄖㄣˊ, which sounds too close to 韓國人, a Korean individual, to spare her from being deported.
Sweet potato is considered as an indigenous plant of Taiwan. In Chinese it’s called 地瓜, but also known as 蕃薯 ㄈㄢ ㄕㄨˇ. The latter can be read in mandarin and be understood just fine, but the word is also the Taiwanese term for sweet potato. Its pronunciation, ㄏㄢ ㄐ｜ˊ, is a homophone of 韓籍 ㄏㄢˊ ㄐ｜ˊ, meaning a Korean native.
Listen to 蕃薯 ㄏㄢ ㄐ｜ˊ in Taiwanese (sound from moedict 萌典):
If you’ve figured out all the puns, then you can give yourself a pat on the back, your Chinese and knowledge of the Taiwanese culture is 袂䆀.