you learn something new every day

Was reading the Straits Times some time ago when I came across this page which carried two reports on the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute. But what piqued my interest was actually the photograph accompanying the articles……

The Straits Times, 12 September 2012, page A6

When I first saw this photo, I immediately noticed the placard that the protestors on the right were holding. It bore four Chinese characters, all of which contained the ‘鬼’ (ghost) radical. I had never seen those four words in my life, and so immediately went to online Chinese dictionary nciku to check them out.

It turned out that these four words, 魑魅魍魉, are actually pronounced ‘chī mèi wǎng liǎng’. According to nciku, the four words are actually a ‘[g]eneral term for devils; figuratively: all kinds of evil people’. Interesting!

The next thing I noticed about this photo is that it is very tightly framed, and it is difficult to count how many protestors there actually were. For a moment, I wondered if it was a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the true number of protestors for whatever reasons! :P

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