Chinese version of Eats Shoots and Leaves

I read a Chinese short story to Ben this evening.

About 400 years ago, during a rainy season, like England in April, a scholar with the wit of Stephen Fry named Xu Wenchang (徐文长)was staying with his friend, but he somehow overstayed his welcome.

His friend left a subtly written note, which read,


xià yǔ tiān liú kè tiān liú wǒ bǔ liú

(Literally: Rainy days keeping guest sky keep I not keep)

There was NO punctuation marks!

A very witty Mr Xu Wenchang (1521—1593)

Mr Xu knew his friend meant

 “Rainy days keeping guest, sky keep, I not keep”


Mr Xu picked up a pen and marked the original note with this:


 “Rainy days(,)  keeping guest sky (,) keep I not (?) keep!”

My son Ben found this short story funny, and said, ‘It’s like Eats Shoots and Leaves!’


Cover of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Ze...

Cover via Amazon 

Do you know of any similar jokes?

Please leave your comments and share them with us.

Xu - a common Chinese surname.

Xu – a common Chinese surname. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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17 thoughts on “Chinese version of Eats Shoots and Leaves

  1. Ben Williams

    The original version was that a panda walks into a libary eating a sandwich. After he has eaten, he gets a gun and shoots. The librarian asks, “Why did you shoot that table?” The panda replies “Look in that book” The librarian gets an encyclopedia and it says “Panda: Eats, shoots and leaves.”

  2. Ben Williams

    Here are some more examples of putting commas in sentences:

    Slow children crossing/Slow, children crossing
    What is this thing called honey?/What is this thing called, honey?

    I might post some more soon.

    1. Janet Williams

      Dear Ben,

      Thank you for your input. Lovely examples!

      I remembered I saw the Slow Children Crossing sign before.

      People who design traffic signs should ask an 11 year old boy like you to do the job properly. Don’t you think so?

      I look forward to more posts from you soon.

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