One of the things I look forward to every Chinese New Year is those Chinese greetings I received from friends. In the good old days, CNY greetings used to be sent via sms with 160 characters limit (include full stop, comma, exclamation marks etc). Short messages were created based on this 160 character limitation.
With the advent of technology viz a viz smartphones and the internet becoming prevalent, that 160 character limitation is lifted thereby opening the flood gates for all kinds of creative messages. Some even come with “stickers” or “emojis” etc.. Think WhatsApp and Wechat.
I am of the opinion that those Chinese messages circulating during CNY are much more creative than the English messages. The English New Year messages are usually, “Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year”, “May you be blessed with happiness, health and luck” etc. All standard forms of boring messages. Definitely no puns on the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs (animals) at all.
I’m one of the fortunate in my age group – those past 50 yrs whom benefited from a forced bi-lingual policy. For that I’m grateful to this government for forcing us to learn Chinese (Mandarin) in school albeit at 2nd language level with only one Chinese book whilst the rest of my subjects were taught in English.
For more than 12 years of formal education starting from the People’s Association kindergarden class right up to Pre-University, I was schooled in English with only one Chinese subject as a 2nd language. At least, I’m able to see the world through two windows instead of one. People like Encik always condemns SBS – Shi Bu Shi. To him Chinese (Mandarin) is SBS lah! He feels awkward and uncomfortable with Mandarin speaking environment. Millionaire Caveman used to say that if only he had some basic Mandarin, he’d be a “billionaire” today. Yup, he was the first amongst the pioneers to venture into China during the early 80s when China just opened up its doors to the outside world. Opportunities were plentiful then. link
Anyway, I’ve given up any hope of convincing Encik about the uniqueness and beauty of the Chinese language. Like caveman, Encik had his formal education in Penang. As such, they didn’t benefit from our forced bi-lingual policy. How to explain to a blind man the different colors of red, blue, yellow etc? Sad to say, a person born blind will never know the beauty of colors no matter how you explain to him! Actually you just can’t explain colors. Like what they say seeing is believing. If you can’t see, what to believe?
Many of my friends have requested that I blog in Chinese. I wish I could write in Chinese as well as my English. Sadly, I can’t. I could only read and understand Chinese but not able to write fluently. Even composing short Chinese sms also see me struggling with the pinyin or the written form.
Two famous international Chinese actors from Hong Kong who could not even speak or understand English initially could now speak English fluently. I heard one of them speaking English with American accent on television recently. I was impressed. They had the time and money to engage private tutors to teach them English. If only my Chinese standard is of the highest fluency, I would devote the time in my remaining lifespan to study Chinese literature, philosophy or Buddhism. Even if I were to devote 20 years of my life doing just that might not be sufficient to fully reap the vast timeless wisdom in its bottomless treasure pit.
It is generally agreed that the English language blossomed around the era of Shakespeare in the 16th century – about 500 years ago. But Chinese literature was already at its height during the Tang dynasty in the 7th century – much earlier then the English. It’s easily more than 1,000 years earlier than the latter if were to include the earlier Han dynasty.
Back to my subject matter. I’ve selected some Chinese message samples here received from friends. I’ll not attempt to translate them here. The translation will do injustice to those creative messages cuz they lose their meaning with translation. You could copy and paste them using the google translator to get the gist of it. Most of those Chinese messages revolve around hope, luck, happiness, health, wealth, work, family etc during the CNY. The most commonly used greeting year after year is “年年有余” － “Every Year With Surplus” with the last Chinese character “余” whose pronunciation is similar to fish. That’s why the fish image is quite prominently displayed on greeting banners, cards or even sms messages.
Hope you will enjoy reading those creative messages. You may even recycle them for next CNY. It’s a good reference on how to send creative and interesting Chinese messages to your family and friends.
他们会在 “除夕夜” 找你。
祝你新年里有鼠不尽的钞票，能牛转乾坤，虎虎生威，兔飞猛进，拥有龙马精神，蛇全十美，马到功成，羊洋得意，猴天得道，经鸡独立。猪你全家健康快乐！ (Puns on 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs)
祝福你在新的一年：聪明如鼠！强壮如牛！胆大如虎！可爱如兔自信如龙！狠毒如蛇！浪漫如马！温顺如羊！顽皮如猴！美丽如鸡！忠实如狗！ 肥过只猪！ (Puns on 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs)
(Puns on 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs)
在金鸡年，祝你像公鸡般勤劳，像母鸡般伟大，像小鸡般可爱，像火鸡般够气，像孔雀般美丽，像马来鸡般纤体，像KFC家乡鸡般受欢迎，像金鸡下金蛋。(Puns on Year of the Rooster)
(Hidden msg of getting older by a year)
(My favorite greeting on the 15th day of CNY)