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Fun Chinese poem: 'The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den'

Chinese is already confusing enough with all of its tones, characters, etc etc. but this poem really highlights how hard Chinese is.

Here it is in English:

Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den

In a stone den was a poet called Shi Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions. He often went to the market to look for lions. At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market. At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market. He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die. He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den. The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it. After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions. When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses. Try to explain this matter.

Here it is in Chinese:


石室诗士施氏,嗜狮,誓食十狮。氏时时适市视狮。十时,适十狮适市。 是时,适施氏适市。氏视是十狮,恃矢势,使是十狮逝世。氏拾是十狮尸,适石室。石室湿,氏使侍拭石室。石室拭,氏始试食是十狮尸。食时,始识是十狮,实十石狮尸。试释是事。

And here's the Pinyin:

« Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī. Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī. Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì. Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì. Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì. Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì. Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī. Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī. Shì shì shì shì.

November 24, 2017



The author of that poem probably had a hard time thinking of rhymes


My goodness. I never knew just how insane Chinese could get.


For those who would like to hear a native speaker say this in Mandarin, follow this Youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vExjnn_3ep4


Yep, fun all right.

I read that poem once. It sounded weird xD


You can try to read it in Chinese dialect.


Chinese? Hard for non native speakers

Classical Chinese? You may as well study the bible and get the correct meaning, and that's just for native Chinese

A Mandarin tongue twister written in Classical Chinese that makes no sense? Yea... (Incidentally in Cantonese this is much easier to understand... provide, of course, you don't have to speak it out, due to the 9 tones)


This is also very difficult for the Chinese. But as long as you read it in Chinese dialect (Wu dialect and Minnan dialect may be more appropriate), you will find it less difficult.


Cantonese is the easiest, tbh


That's because this poem only applies to Mandarin. Other varieties of Chinese have other homophones.


More importantly, someone please explain how he ended up with 10 stone lion corpses!


Yes, that's what I want to know too!


Why on Earth did the Duolingo developers prevent highlight/copy/paste on a language learning forum.


Just saw a link to this discussion from this recent CNN article on learning languages (https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/learn-a-foreign-language-wellness). The Lion-Eating Poet text was actually written by Chinese-American linguist and scholar Chao Yuen Ren (Zhao Yuanren 赵元任). More info on the poem and Chao here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion-Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_Den https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuen_Ren_Chao


My friend showed me this.. I was like what?? A fun poem indeed.


best poem to learn how to pronounce shi correctly

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