East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia


A Chinese joke about accidental bank robbers (more homophone puns)

More fun with Chinese homophones. Here’s a Chinese joke / story involving homophone mix-ups and homophone names in Mandarin:

今天早晨特冷,姐妹三个人去提款机领钱,正好遇见运钞车来加钞。 This morning it was extremely cold, and three sisters went to the ATM to get some money; just as they got there the money transport car arrived to put cash in the machine.

无奈之下三人只好站在一旁苦苦等候,这时大姐对二妹说: The three of them could only stand there braving the cold, and the eldest sister said to the other two:

冻手不? "Are your hands freezing?" [冻手 "hands freezing" sounds the same as 动手 - "to punch" or "to do it"]

二妹冷冷地回一句:冻手! The second sister, freezing cold, said, "My hands are freezing!" [again sounds the same as "punch him" or "do it!"]

结果四杆枪瞬间指向姐妹三…… So four guns were immediately pointed at the three sisters...

三个人被抓住送派出所,在路上姐妹三一直沉默,后来三妹问姐: The three of them were arrested and sent to the police station, and on the way all the sisters were silent, until the third sister asked her older sister:

你们怎么还不开腔呢? "Why have you still not said anything?" [开腔 "say something" sounds the same as 开枪 - "open fire"]

结果八杆枪瞬间指向姐妹三……… So eight guns were immediately pointed at the three sisters...

到了警局,警察问姐:你叫什么名字? When they got to the police station, an officer asked the older sister: "What's your name?"

姐:蒋英羽。 Sister: "Jiang Yingyu." [sounds the same as 讲英语 - "speak English"]

警察再问ㄧ次:你叫什么名字? The officer asked again: "What's your name?"

姐:蒋英羽。 Sister: "Jiang Yingyu."

警察对大姐吼道:what is your name? The officer yelled at the older sister: "What is your name?"

大姐:(沉默以对。) Sister: (silent)

警察转头对二妹说:what is your name? The officer turned to the middle sister and said: "What is your name?"

二妹腼腆的回:蒋国羽。 The middle sister replied shyly: "Jiang Guoyu." [sounds the same as 讲国语 - "speak Mandarin"]

警察再次问道:你叫什么名字? The office asked again: "What's your name?"

二妹:蒋国羽。 Middle sister: "Jiang Guoyu."

警对二妹大吼道:你叫什么名字? The officer yelled at the middle sister: "What's your name?"

二妹:(沉默以对) Middle sister: (silent)

警察再问三妹说:你叫什么名字? The officer asked the third sister: "What's your name?"

三妹:蒋芳妍。 Third sister: Jiang Fangyan. [Sounds the same as 讲方言 - "speak in a dialect"]

警察又对三妹吼:侬叫啥名字? The officer yelled at the third sister: "What's your name?" [in Shanghainese, although here it's barely different to Mandarin.]

三妹:蒋芳妍。 Third sister: "Jiang Fangyan."

警察吐血而亡。 The officer spat blood and died.


This is all very silly, of course, but there are supposedly real stories about names causing trouble. There’s one from the Cultural Revolution era (or something) in which a very patriotic, pro-Party father names his three children according to his political beliefs. The first is called 国 (nation), the next is called 民 (the people) and the last is called 党 (the Party).

Unfortunately, someone spots that together this makes 国民党 (GMD - the Nationalist Party) and gets him in trouble with the CCP. (I have a feeling I’ve got the details of this story wrong, but that’s the general idea of it).