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”.


  • Notre Dame

    Although I’d previously been to Paris quite a few times, I’d never actually visited Notre Dame cathedral until two years ago.

    More …

  • Escalation of commitment

    I was one of the million plus people marching on Saturday.

    More …

  • Uncertainty

    At the time of writing, there are fewer than ten working days left until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. No one knows what is going to happen, and no outcome has been adequately prepared for. Living in a constant state of uncertainty is not good for the mind, or for the financial situation of a nation.

    Last week, the UK Parliament voted against leaving the EU without a deal, and in favour of an extension. But all this is meaningless without action. Unless the Article 50 notification is revoked or an extension is requested and agreed with the unanimous consent of the European Council, the UK is leaving next Friday.

    More …

  • What now?

    There are now 16 days, 23 hours, and 53 minutes left until the UK leaves the EU with no withdrawal agreement, unless something changes very soon.

    It’s not looking good.

    More …

Older entries can be found in the archive.