The other day in my English Corner (yīngyǔ jiǎo 英语角, basically a club for speaking English), we were talking about publicity stunts and someone used a little electronic dictionary to translate “stunt” as:
If you click on the hanzi above you’ll be taken to MDBG where you see that it’s more like “antics” or “shenanigans” than stunts that a stuntman would do. That’s fine. The definition seemed appropriate enough.
The problem was, no one in the room of about eight Chinese university students knew how to pronounce the first character: 噱. Even one student who got a 98 percent (giving him the highest grade possible) on the Mandarin Test (pǔtōnghuà cèshì 普通话测试, discussed briefly here) didn’t know how to pronounce it.
Finally, someone looked it up in a cell phone or electronic dictionary that had pinyin and announced it was “xue2.” I guess it’s such an obscure character that it doesn’t really belong on David Moser’s list of common yet hard Hanzi. But still, good thing pinyin exists. Otherwise, they would have had méi bànfǎ 没办法 to find out how to say it.