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What is the point of "learning from the Grand Han Dynasty and Establishing the Nation by Military"?

  • these exists a tradition of writing Chinese from right to left,this in particular applies to inscription at top of gate – user6065 Jan 29 at 20:57
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It is some kind of wordplay, using '回文句' and '拆句'

  • 回文句 is a text you can read from both ends

  • 拆句 is changing the word groupings in a sentence and read it in different way

From http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4b8db2710102wvw6.html

Sample of 回文诗 (reversible poem):

Reading from one end:

园林杏叶落初秋,眨眼星悬半月勾

In the garden, apricot leaves fall in early autumn, in the blink of eyes, stars are hanging in the sky and the moon is half hooked.

Reading from the other end:

勾月半悬星眼眨,秋初落叶杏林园

Hooked moon hanging in the middle of the sky and the stars are blinking, in early autumn, there are falling leaves in the apricot garden.

Sample of 拆句 (words breaking):

下雨天留客,天留人不留。 (It rains because the heaven wants to keep the guest from leaving; However, the host doesn't want to keep the guest even the heaven does)

下雨天,留客天,留人不? 留! (Rainy day, a day to keep the guest from leaving, do you keep the guest here? Yes I do!)

"国立 武汉大学" (Wuhan University) read backward is "学大汉武立国" which doesn't make much sense if you read it as "学大 汉武立国" , but it make sense if you break it up the right way as "学大汉, 武立国" (Learning from the Great Han Dynasty and establish the nation with military might)

Simply put, you can read "国立武汉大学" backward and rearrange the characters grouping to make it mean something else -- for fun

Chinese poets are so clever with wordplay

  • Without any classical Chinese training, All I can manage is something like this 盡假年, 大江東去 (I have spent all the days heaven lent me, The tide can no longer be turned) ; 去東江, 大年假盡 (go to East River, the long new year holiday is ending) I am so envy of those talented wordplay masters. – Tang Ho Jan 30 at 6:12
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Well, you are absolutely right, it is 国立武汉大学,people sometimes say 学大汉,武立国 for the following reasons

  1. 学大汉,武立国 happens to make a reasonable sentence
  2. writing from right to left is an old tradition and nowadays when people see it, they tend to read from left to right naturally and may have to think for a moment with the context
  3. people would always love to make jokes

As for the last point, you can check out some funny ones at wenxuecity and zhihu.

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