18 Celebrate This Spring with a Hanmoji Puzzle 🧩
We welcome our new & newest readers!
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox is upon us, and we hope you’re here to stick around for a language puzzle or two this season as we uncover more playful mnemonics for learning Chinese.
This is Hanmoji Puzzles, your bi-weekly dose of emoji word puzzles inspired by The Hanmoji Handbook. And don’t worry — you don’t need to speak Chinese at all in order to play along. You just need a love for emoji and be curious about how language works!
🧩 This week’s puzzle
What word do you think this pair of emoji represents in Chinese?
Hint: What do both emoji have (or do) in common?
Answer (spoilers ahead!)
🌱🦷 stands for 芽, which means sprout or bud. You can use it as a verb (to sprout) and as a noun (a bud). It’s pronounced yá in Mandarin, and ngaa4 in Cantonese. The top half of the character (🌱艹) is the radical form for the character for grass (🌱草). The bottom half of the character (🦷牙) is simply the character for teeth. Can you see it in your mind’s eye? The grass that’s just teething, just sprouting up, as it will in the incoming spring season.
On top of this, the character 🌱🦷 芽 draws its pronunciation (yá/ngaa4) from the character for tooth 🦷牙 (yá/ngaa4), so the latter plays the role of a phonetic radical.
Fun fact: in Chinese when we say “🌱🦷 芽 vegetable,” it means bean sprouts. Just look at those gleaming white, toothy sprouts!
🥳 Updates from our parent project, The Hanmoji Handbook
We were featured in the South China Morning Post (one of our hometown papers)!
We ran a fully-subscribed workshop with the Malaysia Design Archive.
The Texas Library Association put us on the 2023 Texas Topaz Reading List.
Kirkus has named us as one of their Best Middle-Grade Nonfiction of 2022 picks.
Our book is now out — order it now on IndieBound 🇺🇸, Shop Local 🇨🇦, Blackwell’s 🌏, Barnes & Noble 🇺🇸, or Indigo 🇨🇦.
That’s it this week’s 🧩 Hanmoji Puzzles 🧩! Subscribe to receive next week’s puzzle and please forward this email to friends so we can continue this puzzling endeavor.
Hanmoji Puzzles is a spin off of The Hanmoji Handbook: A Guide to Learning Chinese Through Emoji, which you should absolutely order today 😗. This newsletter is a project by Jason Li, An Xiao Mina and Jennifer 8. Lee.