Monday, February 22, 2010


So every year at Christmas I get annoying carols stuck in my head - usually Joy To The World and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. I'm not even religious! But oh well.

And as you know, Chinese New Year has its own complement of songs that are, well, just like Christmas carols (with pithy, throwaway lyrics about the season and catchy jingly tunes) except in Chinese and on a pentatonic scale.

Turns out I get these stuck in my head as well! I never realized, as until this year, I've always gone abroad for CNY.

Thanks to Matsusei - yes, the Japanese grocery chain - I got "恭喜,恭喜,恭喜你!" stuck in my head for days, to the point where people would giggle when I'd randomly start humming it in elevators. Just to get it stuck in your head, here you go. (Any long-term China/Taiwan/Singapore expats will recognize this irritating little tune, but for friends back home who read this, have fun getting it out of your skull! Mwahahaha!)

That was finally pushed out when we went to Cingjing Farm last week, and the lodge we spent all of our time in because it was too wet to hike had this Awesome Robot Confucius:

Who I realize is a prosperity god and not a Robot Confucius, but I just like the phrase "Robot Confucius" so I will continue to call him that. He was basically just like one of those annoying mechanical Santas who, when turned on, sway back and forth holding a bag of presents and sing "Jingle Bells" or some such...over and over and over again. You know what I mean.

Oh, you can't see it in the photos but he has blue eyes, which is vaguely hilarious.

Well, this guy sang the song that got the first one out of my head: 財神到 (literally "the wealth god arrives"). Turns out this song is even more irritating than "恭喜,恭喜,恭喜你".

So. I was telling some students today about getting songs stuck in one's head, and got to teach them a nifty phrase as a result ("get a song stuck in [your] head" - v phrase) and how both of these songs have been bouncing around my brain for weeks now and I've started listening to the Magnetic Fields to try and force them out.

They laughed, said the same thing happened to them, and that they have a name for the kinds of songs that seem to be implanted firmly in my cerebral cortex: 叮叮噹 or "ding-ding-dang".

叮叮噹 are those Chinese songs that "sound Chinese" - you know, like that old favorite, Kung Fu Fighting ("And everybody was kung fu fighting - 叮叮叮叮噹噹叮叮噹 - those kids were fast as lightning - 叮叮噹叮叮噹叮叮叮噹噹") that Americans find vaguely offensive and everyone in Taiwan seems to like. This is, apparently, a well-known enough phrase that if I mention "叮叮噹歌" to anyone, they'll understand instantly that I mean those old-timey Chinese-sounding songs that go, well, ding ding dang.

I love that. It's like a funky piece of cultural understanding that I'm now grateful to have. I haven't been this chuffed since I learned what a "雙-B" is.


dennis said...

although i know what 雙B refers to, but i've never understood how it came about hmm... im a taiwanese living in australia btw.

dennis said...

oh and by the way, 恭喜~恭喜~恭喜你~

Jenna said...