May You Have a New Year Filled with (fill in the blank)

Automated Chinese couplets available for the new year.

The Chinese New Year is just around the corner (January 26, 2009, for your party planning). While we try to not miss a celebration for any reason, many westerners may not know of the custom of chun lian, a poetic couplet written on strips of red paper specially for the new year in China. Usually posted on a door, it conveys a happy and hopeful message about the new year. Traditionally, of course, for thousands of years, these were painstakingly painted.

Now we have yet another tradition adapted to the current times with technology. Sina Corporation has moved this custom to their mobile phones.

Aah, but not only has the custom been adapted, it has been automated! Enter Microsoft. Sina has contracted to use Microsoft’s technology to automatically complete a chun lian couplet. The user enters a first line, and “the engine will automatically build the second line and horizontal scroll bearing an inscription to users in the form of multimedia message service or SMS.”

Fascinating technology! I leave it to my Chinese-speaking friends to try it out and comment on the poetic quality.

Marjolein Groot Nibbelink
Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.


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