Uses for artifacts and memes (fwd)

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 05 Mar 2003 - 15:52:22 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: lost artifacts"

    The following is a forwarded message from a friend.

    Chinese Gifts

    These are all surprises to me. Chinese doesn't have as many different sounds as English has, so they have more homonyms than we do. I never knew people could take homonyms so seriously. If somebody wanted to give me some ice cream, I wouldn't be offended just because "ice cream" sounds like "I scream". I wonder if a Chinese vampire would be insulted if you offered to take him to a "stake"-house.

    Never give somebody a clock as a gift, especially to an older person.

    The Chinese word for clock (zhong) has the same sound as the Chinese word for death. The Chinese word for give or deliver is "song". Therefore the phrase "Song zhong" has 2 meanings: 1) "Give a clock" and 2) "Give death". The latter phrase is an expression which means to make arrangements for somebody's funeral.

    Be careful when giving a watch to somebody as a gift.

    There is no death involved because "watch" doesn't sound like "clock". It is not rude to give a watch to somebody, but if a boy gives a girl a watch, it means that he likes her. The same is true if a girl gives a watch to a boy. I don't know why this is. I wonder what Chinese people gave to their lovers before watches were invented. I'm a little confused by this one, since the word for watch (biao) is the same sound as the word for prostitute. It seems to me that girls would be insulted by this, but I've never claimed to understand girls.

    Two years ago one of my students gave me a watch for Christmas. I didn't know about any hidden meaning until last week. Now I feel bad because I didn't give her any Christmas present. I wonder where she is now.

    Never give a friend an umbrella as a gift.

    The Chinese word for umbrella (san) also means to come loose or fall apart. If you give an umbrella to a friend, then it implies that you are breaking up with that person. If you have a very good friend and you warn the friend ahead of time that you are going to give him (or her) and umbrella, then it is OK, as it is no surprise. If a girl suddenly gives her boyfriend an umbrella, then it means she is breaking up. Believe me.


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