“No sooner had I heard the expression Línfēngkuáng 林疯狂 a few days ago than was I disappointed by it”

First of all, it is not cute or clever the way Linsanity is.  It is clumsy and clunky; just doesn’t sound right.  Moreover, the rhythm is wrong for a Chinese word, and believe me, rhythm is very important for Chinese word formation.  (This will be spelled out very clearly in Perry Link’s forthcoming book entitled An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics, due out from Harvard University Press in the fall.)

Línf?ngkuáng ??? actually sounds like a person’s name, which, in English order, would mean something like “Insane Lin”!  That certainly is not the impression we wish to convey when we shout “Linsanity”!  Chinese trisyllabic nouns usually have their main constituent at the end, and what comes before modifies it:  f?ij?ch?ng ??? (“airport” [lit., “airplane field”]), d?zìj? ??? (“typewriter” [lit., “strike character machine”]), hu?sh?ngjiàng ??? (“peanut butter” [lit., “peanut sauce”]), b?lípíng ??? (“glass bottle”), and so forth.  Note that the rhythm is usually 2 (modifier / dependent) + 1 (modified / head noun).  In this type of noun construction, 1 + 2 (which is how Línf?ngkuáng ??? is constructed) doesn’t scan well.

Read More | “Linsanity” | Victor Mair | Language Log