Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Word for the day: DUILIAN

In the last few weeks we have seen a duilian on nearly every business and abode, yet another means of expressing happy and hopeful thoughts for the new year. Also known as couplets, a duilian is a pair of long, vertical red strips placed parallel to one another on each side of a door, with poetic and traditional Chinese sayings written on them. The two lines have a one-to-one correspondence in their metrical length, and each pair of characters must have certain matching properties such as meaning and tone. 

According to sources on the internet, a duilian must adhere to the following rules:

1. Both lines must have exactly the same number of Chinese characters.
2. The lexical category of each character must be the same as its corresponding character.
3. The tone pattern of one line must be the inverse of the other. This generally means if one character is of the a level tone, its corresponding character in the other line must be of an oblique tone, and vice versa.
4. The last character of the first line should be of an oblique tone, which forces the last character of the second line to be of a level tone.
5. The meaning of the two lines need to be related, with each pair of corresponding characters having related meanings too.

You can see an example of a duilian amongst the Forest Hill club house decorations.

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