Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In Case You're Thinking of Learning Chinese

I stumbled across this little story today about a man who decided to eat lions. The English translation is below, followed by the Chinese text, and then the transliteration. This story makes perfect sense when you read it in Chinese, but I doubt that anyone listening to the story would be able to make head or tails of what is going on. And 1.3 billion people actually speak this language on a daily basis...

Story of Shi Eating the Lions
A poet named Shi lived in a stone room,
fond of lions, he swore that he would eat ten lions.
He constantly went to the market to look for ten lions
At ten o'clock, ten lions came to the market
and Shi went to the market.
Looking at the ten lions, he relied on his arrows
to cause the ten lions to pass away.
Shi picked up the corpses of the ten lions and took them to his stone room.
The stone room was damp. Shi ordered a servant to wipe the stone room.
As the stone den was being wiped, Shi began to try to eat the meat of the ten lions.
At the time of the meal, he began to realize that the ten lion corpses
were in fact were ten stone lions.
Try to explain this matter.


施氏食獅史
石室詩士施氏,
嗜獅,誓食十獅. .
氏時時適市視獅. .
十時,適十獅適市.
是時,適施氏適是市.
氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,
使是十獅逝世.
氏拾是十獅屍, 適石室.
石室濕, 氏使侍拭石室.
石室拭,氏始試食十獅屍.
食時, 始識十獅屍,
實十石獅屍.
試釋是事.


shi1 shi4 shi2 shi1 shi3
shi2 shi4 shi1 shi4 shi1 shi4,
shi4 shi1, shi4 shi2 shi2 shi1.
shi4 shi2 shi2 shi4 shi4 shi4 shi1.
shi2 shi2, shi4 shi2 shi1 shi4 shi4.
shi4 shi2, shi4 shi1 shi4 shi4 shi4 shi4.
shi4 shi4 shi4 shi2 shi1, shi4 shi3 shi4,
shi3 shi4 shi2 shi1 shi4 shi4.
shi4 shi2 shi4 shi2 shi1 shi1, shi4 shi2 shi4.
shi2 shi4, shi1, shi4 shi3 shi4 shi4 shi2 shi4.
shi2 shi4 shi4, shi4 shi3 shi4 shi2 shi2 shi1 shi1.
shi2 shi2, shi3 shi4 shi4 shi2 shi1 shi1,
shi2 shi2 shi2 shi1 shi1.
shi4 shi4 shi4 shi4.