East Asia Student

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Written Chinese

A "Chinese" puzzle sent to me by a reader: 冊月水三 了口臼尺 山月了 七口...

冊月水三 了口臼尺

A reader sent me this “Chinese” text and asked if I could translate it, apparently having found this ancient post about free Chinese translation.

“冊月水三 了口臼尺 山月了 七口 水口山心口口內 山月心心三力 匹工七了, 七升三 下工尺弓七 匹升三匹水戶口工內七 七升工弓 心三巨. 七升三 心月弓七 尺月匹三尺 七口 月尺尺工人三 月七 七升工弓 冊工力山月了 戶口工內七 工內 七升三 心三巨, 山工心心 官三 三心工冊工內月七三力!”

It was pretty clear from the start this wasn’t standard Chinese! I did wonder for a moment if it was some sort of bizarre Classical Chinese poem, before I remembered all of that Chinese alphabet nonsense I’d written about before.

Then it was just a job of writing out the substitutions:

月 a 官 b 匹 c 力 d 三 e 下 f 巨 g 升 h 工 i 水 k 心 l 冊 m 內 n 口 o 戶 p 尺 r 弓 s 七 t 臼 u 人 v 山 w 了 y

I’m lazy so I just got Python to do the swapping, and the message is:

“Make your way to Kowloon Walled City, the first checkpoint this leg. the last racer to arrive at this midway point in the leg, will be eliminated!”

(It also occurred to me you could quite easily make a Python script to solve these automatically by trying different character/letter swaps and seeing how many matches it gets with the ‘words’ list file included in most Linux distros. Anyway!)

So there we are! It looks like this person is on some sort of race challenge, so good luck to them, and I hope they make it to Kowloon Walled City in time.

I’m guessing the race organisers used one of the many “Chinese alphabet” swapping systems out there. This is one of the few legitimate uses of them, in my view!

Thanks to that reader for giving me something to do while I enjoyed my Saturday morning coffee :)

Contact me: mhg@eastasiastudent.net