The coffin fell apart.
There was the sound of decayed wood crumbling, and a cloud of smoke surged out, like water vapour from a hot steamer.

Yan Lianke / Carlos Rojas

5,000 Years of Emoticons

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

We here at Paper Republic strive to bring you the latest and greatest in Chinese language usage, and we’d be criminally unhip if we failed to alert you to the most recent Really Cool Thing on the internet: 囧.

This little beauty is pronounced jiǒng. It is a very old character, appearing on turtle shell inscriptions (甲骨文) from thousands of years ago; while it has many meanings, the most basic is light coming through a window, rather evident from its shape. The more leet among you, however, will note that its also shaped rather like a frowny face: that’s right, 囧 is the hip new way of saying 郁闷 (yùmen, to be bored or depressed or down). Can you feel the grandeur of 5,000 years of history? Read on for advanced usage.

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