November 12, 2012

A joke about Chinese calligraphy in inscription

It's common practice in China to have a well-known calligrapher or a government official to write the name of a famous building, bridge, or tower, in Chinese paint brush, to be used as the inscription on the entrance or facade of the architecture. The ideal person is an official and calligrapher two in one. The less ideal is one of the two, which one preferred depending on who you talk to. If the calligraphy is beautifully carried out and the name or title of the architecture is easily recognized, the inscription definitely enhances the beauty and value overall. But the two criteria may not match all the time.

One particular case is the inscription "山东博物馆 " (shan1dong1 bo2wu4guan3, Shandong Museum). On October 9, 2011, somebody first suggested a possible alternative reading of the cursive writing, "心系情妇那" (xin1 xi4 qing2fu4 na4, heart tied to mistress there). On October 21, more possible readings "山东情妇馆" (shan1dong1 qing2fu4 guan3, Shandong Mistress House) and "心系情妇波" (xin1 xi4 qing2fu4 bo1, heart tied to mistress wave or bosom), and it starts to evolve into a short story. A day later, "山东情妇报" (shan1dong1 qing2fu4 bao4, Shandong Mistress Newspaper) was suggested, and the full story was completed:

十一期间一对儿情侣在山东博物馆游玩,小伙子凝视着博物馆上面的字说:“书法写的不错啊,心系情妇那!” 女孩说:“你傻B啊!明明是山东情妇馆!贪官的情妇都关这里面了!” 这时,一个路人经过,听到两人的对话,心里暗暗想:两个2货!不认识字还在这装有学问!明明是心系情妇波!!

(During the October 1 national day holiday, a couple were touring around Shandong Museum. The guy stared at the inscription on the museum building and said, "Calligraphy not bad, 心系情妇那!" The girl said, "You stupid! It's obviously 山东情妇馆. The corrupt officials' mistresses are locked up in there!" A passer-by heard their talk, and thought to himself: two idiots pretend to be educated not knowing how to read, it's clearly 心系情妇波!)

You judge the reading. Here's the image:

If the above image is not shown, this smaller image is from the official web site:

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