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Culture Notes: Spring Festival couplets

If you are in China, you will see many spring festival couplets on Chinese people’s doors. During the Spring Festival, almost every Chinese family posts Spring Festival couplets on their doors to express sincere blessings and good wishes.

A Spring Festival couplet is usually composed of three parts. The first line of the couplet, the second line of the couplet and the horizontal scroll. The first and second line are usually pasted on the right side and the left side of a door respectively, and the scroll is usually above the door. There are some special features of Spring Festival Couplets. First, the two lines always have an equal number of characters. Second, the two lines must have the same parts of speech. This means, for example, if the first term in the first line is a noun, the first term in the second line must also be a noun. Third, the two lines have the same structure. For example, maybe the two lines are both subject-predicate structures. Last but not the least, the level and oblique tones in the two lines should be opposite.

Spring Festival couplets:春联 chūn lián

The first line of the couplet 上联 shànglián

The second line of the couplet 下联 xiàlián

The horizontal scroll 横批 héngpī

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Introduction to Chinese: Grammar

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)

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