Chinese Proverbs

Topics: Trigraph, Gh, Confucius Pages: 10 (2670 words) Published: May 29, 2011
Chinese proverbs

oLiterally: A drop of water shall be returned with a burst of spring. oMeaning: Even if it was just a little help from others, you should return the favor with all you can when others are in need.

oLiterally: If one person is not hungry, the whole family is not hungry. oMeaning: Families will make sacrifices for individual members of the family. oCommon Misunderstanding: If one person in the family is happy, the whole family is happy.

,(ice+freeze+three+units(~feet),not+one+day's(7th and 8th)+chill) oLiterally: A single day of sub-zero temperature is not enough to create three feet of ice. oMoral: Great things cannot be accomplished in a short period of time. oCompare: Rome was not built in a day (Roma non fu fatta in un giorno, Italian proverb).

(big+water+poured over+finish+dragon+king+temple)
oLiterally: The Dragon-King's temple is flooded.
oMoral: You can be harmed by the things you control.
oExplanation: The Dragon-King is a mystical creature that lives underwater and controls the natural bodies of water. People visit the dragon-king temple to placate him and prevent floods, thus this proverb is ironic situationally (Sometimes this proverb is used as '大水冲了龙王庙,一家人不认一家人' (...yi1 jia1 ren2 bu4 ren4 yi1 jia1 ren2, or, One family member doesn't recognize another family member. The idiom might be used to resolve an embarrassing situation. For example, someone has a conflict with a stranger, only to find the stranger was a neighbor, or a sister's boyfriend, or any other person with some relation. The two might use this idiom to save face and make peace with each other, comparing the conflict to that of the flooded dragon-king's temple (dragon-king: rain god in some sense).

oLiterally: If the wind comes from an empty cave, it's not without a reason. oMoral: There is no smoke without fire.

, (old+thoroughbred+hidden+stable,determined+be+thousand+distance (unit)) oLiterally: The old horse in the stable still yearns to run 1000 li 1. oMoral: Everybody, no matter the inexperience, yearns to achieve great deeds. Another one is "The older the ginger the hotter the spice". oNote: "stable" and "li" rhyme in Mandarin

1 li: a Chinese unit of linear measure, corresponds to about 500 meters.

oLiterally: Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know what's in a person's heart. oMoral: Character can be revealed by time.
oUsage: This can be used positively to praise a true friend, or negatively to criticize friends who could not stand a test.

oLiterally: a person needs a face; a tree needs bark.
oMeaning: Reputation is extremely important.
oNote: Face here is used metaphorically as the face (social custom). The Chinese, especially in ancient times, valued reputation highly, thus creating this proverb. oUsage: when someone behaves dishonorably (once or repeatedly), it can be said directly to that person as admonishment (as parents to a child).

(meat+bun(2nd and 3rd)+hit+dog)
oLiterally: To hit a dog with a meat-bun.
oInterpretation: Punishment with a reward never works.
oMoral: Don't use the wrong method to approach a problem.

世上无难事,只怕有心人 (pinyin: shì shàng wú nán shì, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén) (world+on+without+difficult+circumstances, only+fear+have+heart+people) oLiterally: You must persevere to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. oMoral: Everything can be done with enough perseverance.

oCompare: Where there's a will, there's a way.

树倒猢狲散 (pinyin: shù dǎo hú sūn sàn)
oLiterally: When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.
oUsage: When a leader loses power, his followers become disorganized. This proverb is often used to describe fair-weather friends.

死马当活马医 (si ma dang huo ma yi)
oLiterally: Try to save the dead horse...
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