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吳’r

On my way back to my hotel in Taipei last week, I spotted an intriguing bit of writing inside the glass of a soft toy grabber machine:

Soft toy machine with “吳’r” written inside glass

At first, I thought maybe it was some quirky way of writing the 儿 of erhua, but I was still perplexed. So I sent it to Victor Mair at Language Log, and now we have the answer:

It means “Mr Wu” (吳 and 吴 are variants of the same character):

Wú’r 吴’r means Wú xiānshēng 吴先生 (“Mr. Wu”), omitting the M of the “Mr”. Likewise, Wú’s 吴’s means Wú xiǎojiě 吴小姐 (“Ms. Wu”), omitting the M of the “Ms”.

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