shī shì shí shī shǐ
shí shì shī shì shī shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī. shì shí shí shì shì shì shī.shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì. shì shí, shì shī shì shì shì. shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì. shǐ shì shí shī shì shì. shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shí shì.shí shì shī, shì shǐ shì shì shí shì. shí shì shì, shì shǐ shì shí shí shī shī. shí shí, shǐ shì shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī. shì shì shì shì.
Many beginners learning Chinese may have encountered遭遇this curse咒语: “四是四，十是十，十四是十四，四十是四十” (sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shísì shì shísì, sìshí shì sìshí), which translates to “four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty.” Chinese is certainly a language packed with homophones同音字, particularly特别for those not practiced in distinguishing辨别between tones. If you survived the last tongue twister绞扭器and didn’t at all bite your tongue, try the following advanced version版本：
If you are curious好奇心旺盛的about what on earth it could possibly mean, a translation is available, though, well, it does sound a bit like gibberish急促而不清楚的话at times.
The Story of the Stone Grotto Poet Eating Lions
Stone Grotto洞室post桩Shih by name was fond of lions and swore发誓swear的过去式he would eat ten lions. The man from time to time went to the market to look at lions.When, at ten o’clock, he went to the market, it happened that ten lions went to the market. At this time the man looked at the ten lions and, relying信任on the moment of ten stone arrows箭矢, caused the ten lions to depart from this world. The man picked these ten lions’ bodies and went to the stone grotto.The stone grotto was wet and he made the servant仆人try to wipe擦，拭the stone grotto. The stone grotto having been wiped, the man began to try to eat the ten lions’ bodies. When he ate them, he began to realize实现that those ten lions’ bodies were really ten stone lions’ bodies. Now he began to understand that that was the fact of the case状况. Try and explain解释this matter.
The author作家of the text was Zhao Yuanren (赵元任). As the “father of Chinese linguistics语言学”, he speaks eight nation’s languages as well as 33 Chinese dialects方言. But besides his unparalleled无与伦比的linguistic语言学talent天资, Zhao also has a genius for whimsicality异想天开的. The “story of eating lions” is not the only gimmick鬼花招he played with, and I’m not just referring参看to three other tongue twisters he wrote with syllables音节“ji”, ”xi” and ”yi” (see the bottom of this post).
One of his proudest accomplishments成就was the translation of Lewis Carroll’s刘易斯·卡罗尔Alice in Wonderland into Chinese, and during his six decades十年of teaching career生涯as the professor教授of physics物理, mathematics数学, Chinese music and Chinese linguistics in Harvard, Cornell and UC Berkeley哈佛大学、康奈尔大学和加州大学伯克利分校, one of his most delightful可爱的feats功绩on the lecture文化circuit巡回was to record巡回on tape a discourse演说of English (a passage, a poem) uttered backwards. The tape was then played in reverse to reveal perfectly natural English pronunciation, and he would be laughing in tears when looking at his astounded students.
Story of Stone Grotto Poet Eating Lionswas written originally not for fun, but as a weapon in the “revolution of Chinese characters”. The phonetic letters in Chinese—pinyin (拼音, pīn yīn) was an invention in modern times. In the past, Chinese ancestors used neither pinyin nor punctuation marks. Zhao developed the National Romanisation (Zhao Yuan Ren’sRomanisation), a phonetic alphabet designed for Chinese language, an effort that met huge obstacles from conservative literati who urged to keep the traditional language “clean” from the western Latin letters. The four stories, written with quasi homophones, were thus to prove the relative independence between the tones and meanings of the Chinese language. Zhao’s romanisation was adopted nationwide in 1928, which through much simplification evolved into the system we are using today.
A few more of Zhao’s works:
jì jī jī jī jì
jì jī jì, jí jī, jī jí jí jī. jí jī jī jī, jì jī jí jī jì jì jī. jī jì jì, jī jī jí, jì jī jì, jí jī jī, jī jí, jì jī jǐ, jì jī jí, jí jí jī jī jī, jī jí jī jǐ jì, jì jí jī, jī jī jí jǐ jī, jì jī jí jí jī jī jī, jī jì jí, jì jī, jī, jí jì jì jī jī jī jì.
Reminiscences of Famished
Chickens Assembled on the Ridge of a (Flying) Machine Chick, chick, chickens! Chickens, chick, chick! Several chickens squeezed and assembled on the machine’s ridge. The machine was extremely swift; the chickens extremely famished. The chickens surmised their skill was sufficient to strike some perch. The machine having crossed the suburbs of Chi. The chickens reckoned the swift machine should stir up several perch. The machine was swift; the perch extremely scared. Hastily they squeezed and assembled in the interstices of stone steps. Subsequently the perch’s traces were extremely silent, silent. Subsequently the chickens, since still famished, said chick, chick!
xī xì xī
xī xì xī, xĭ xī xì. xí xī xī xī xí xī xĭ, xí xī xì xì xí xĭ xī. xī xī xī, xì xí xī. xí xī xī xī xī xī xì. xī xī xī xī xĭ xí xī.
Hsi Plays with the Rhinoceros West Creek Rhinoceros enjoys romping and playing. Hsi Hsi every morning takes rhinoceros to play. Hsi Hsi meticulously practices washing rhinoceros. Rhinoceros sucks creek, playfully attacks Hsi. Hsi Hsi, laughing, hopes to stop playing. Too bad rhinoceros, neighing, enjoys attacking Hsi.
yí yí yĭ yĭ, yì yì, yí yì yì, yí yì yī. yī yĭ yí yĭ yĭ yí yī yí. yī yĭ yì yì yì yì yĭ. yì yĭ yì, yĭ yí yì. yī yĭ yì yĭ yì yí yī yí, yí yì yĭ yī. yí yí yí, yĭ yí yī yí yī. yī yī yí yī, yì yí yí. yì! yī yĭ yí yí yī yí yì, yì yì yĭ;yí yĭ yí yī yí yī, yì yì yì yĭ yĭ!
Reminiscences of How Aunt I was Cured
Aunt I felt depressed. She changed her clothes and reclined on a chair. Her idea was to suspect of some strange sickness. She should visit a doctor. The doctor’s idea was that one should treat the aunt’s sickness with the pancress of ants. He took 100,000,000 arrows and hunted 100,000,000 ants. The ants one by one died. Their pancreases overflowed. The doctor removed the pancreases and treated the aunt’s sickness with them. The aunt’s sickness was thereby cured.
She was joyful and presented her doctor with a foreign garment. The doctor put on the foreign garment and was joyful, too. Yea! the doctor took 100,000,000 ants’ pancreases to cure Aunt I’s sickness, wasn’t that wonderful? Aunt I presented the doctor with a foreign garment, wasn’t that even more wonderful, too?