We sincerely apologize for our months long silence. We hope that 2017 is also keeping you very busy. Here is a Chinese linguistic singularity we wrote about a few years ago:
Did you know that there is a Mandarin Chinese poem whose five-word title and the rest of its body are formed entirely by the same syllable? The title of the early 20th century poem “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den” (施氏食狮史) by Yuen Ren Chao (赵元任) is formed by tonal variations of the syllable “shi.” When read aloud, as well as when spelled in Pinyin (the official phonetic system to transliterate Chinese languages) the title and the rest of the poem is rendered as “Shī Shì shí shī shǐ…” Please note the tonal symbols used here. They indicate that in each case, the tone is different, and therefore, each syllable is a separate word with a different meaning.