Reading Chinese: a caveat

Not unlike the order of spoken biomes, temple placards can be confusing to read. Written horizontally, they usually read from right to left; but sometimes, as when an emperor bestows a placard on a temple, they may read from left to right. This can even be an issue in reading secular slogans, which now almost always read from left to right.

Among the numerous stories of Tian Qing, eminent pundit of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, this is one of few that I dare publish…

A distinguished elderly Buddhist monk from mainland China was visiting Taiwan. Above a little restaurant opposite the temple that was hosting him, he was alarmed to see a sign:

吃小和尚      EAT A YOUNG MONK

It took him a while to work out that hopefully it might read in the other direction:

尚和小吃      SNACKS OF ESTEEMED HARMONY

2 thoughts on “Reading Chinese: a caveat

  1. Pingback: Cloudy with showery outbreaks, know wot I mean? | Stephen Jones: a blog

  2. Pingback: The Li band in France: notes | Stephen Jones: a blog

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