All 4 entries tagged Language
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January 23, 2007
井底之蛙 - Jing Di Zhi Wa
Literal Meaning - Well-bottom's Frog (Frog at the bottom of the well)
Figurative Meaning - A Person with a very limited outlook
Story Behind the idiom:
A frog once lived in an abandoned well along the East Sea. Once, the frog saw a turtle at the edge of the well, and it boasted to the turtle "I can jump around in the mud and swim in the water. What a carefree life! Come down here and join me in my paradise!"
The turtle wanted to go into the well, but it was too big for the well-opening. Then it told the frog, "I live in the ocean which is so wide that you cannot tell the sky from the sea, and it is so deep that you cannot see its bottom. Even if there was a flood lasting several years, the water level would not rise. If it did not rain for years, the ocean would not become shallow. Only when you live in such an ocean can you truly enjoy a carefree life!" The frog was stunned.
January 22, 2007
临渴掘井 - Lin Ke Jue Jing
Literal Meaning - Reach Thirst Dig Well
Figurative Meaning - Leaving things to the last minute
Story behind idiom:
In the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Zhao of the State of Lu fled to the State of Qi, following palace turmoil. He admitted his mistakes to Duke Jing of Qi. Duke Jing advised him to go back to Lu, as he might become a wise ruler, since he recognised his faults. But Yanzi, an official of Qi, said, "It is too late to make weapons when one is endangered, and to dig a well when one needs water desperately."
This idiom warns against not being prepared, but seeking help at the last moment.
January 21, 2007
盲人摸象 - Mang Ren Mo Xiang
Literal Meaning - Blind Men Touch Elephant
Figurative Meaning - Take a part for the whole
A group of blind men gathered around an elephant, trying to find out what the creature looked like. One of them happened to touch one of the tusks, and said: "An elephant is just like a turnip." Another touched one of the elephant's ears, and said, "It is like a big fan." One put his arms around one of the beast's legs, and said: "It is like a column." One who happened to place his hands on the body of the elephant said, "It is like a wall." But the one who got hold of the tail said, "It is like a snake." They then fell to arguing with each other.
This idiom is used to satirize those who know only a part of a thing and not the entirety or essence.
January 20, 2007
手不释卷 - Shou Bu Shi Juan
Literal Meaning - Hand Not Release Book
Figurative Meaning - Diligent in Study
Western Equivalent - Bookworm, Always with a book in hand
Story Behind Idiom:
Lv Meng was a meritorious general of the State of Wu during the Three Kingdoms Period. He came from a poor family and had not had the chance to go to school when he was young. When he became a general, the duke of Wu encouraged him to read some books. Lv Meng took his advice, and started to study hard. Even when he was marching or fighting, he would find time to study. There was always a book in his hand. Finally, Lv Meng became a learned general.
(nb Lv is a pinyin representation of an L followed by a short and sharp Oo sound. So it would sound a bit like Lew or Lieu)