There are only 400+ possible syllables in Chinese. That makes listening comprehension (both for me and the person I’m talking to) a bit of a nightmare. But despite the many downsides, there are actually some fun things about a syllabic language.
Besides how amazingly easy it is to rhyme in Chinese, it’s fun that the language allows for syllabic palindromes (i.e. reading the hanzi forwards and backwards, not the individual letters in the pinyin).
Even some individual words can be read forward and backward and mean the same thing (if one seems more common to me it appears in bold). If you can rattle off this list to your Chinese friends it will be just as impressive as saying the “4 is 4, 10 is 10” tongue twister to a Southern China native!
- jìdù 忌妒 = dùjì 妒忌 = to be jealous / jealousy
- jījiàn 击剑 = jiànjī 剑击 = fencing (sport)
- yèxiāo 夜宵 = xiāoyè 宵夜 = late-night snack
- zǔzhòu 诅咒 = zhòuzǔ 咒诅 = to curse
- shìshí 事实 = shíshì 实事 = fact
Isn’t that wild!?
Does anyone know of any others? Share, share!
Can anyone think of any in English? I don’t mean like “pop.” I mean a two WORD palindrome where “paper doll” and “doll paper” mean the same thing (they don’t, of course, that’s why that one doesn’t count). It seems like I thought of a two-word English one once but it might have been when I was just about to fall asleep and I didn’t write it down but if I had it would have seemed really stupid the next morning anyway. You know what I mean.