Episode 19: 鸡毛蒜皮 Chicken Feathers And Garlic Peel

JI MAO SUAN PI

JI MAO SUAN PI

Once upon a time, in China (obviously), there were two neighboring families. One family slaughtered chickens for a living, and the other ran a restaurant...a very garlicky restaurant.

The family who slaughtered chickens had to pluck the chicken feathers every morning and would leave their floors a mess. The family with the restaurant would peel garlic and leave the shavings all over their floors. This mess took place almost every day. 

Now, when the wind blows, sometimes the chicken feathers would fly over to the garlic side. And other times, the garlic peel would find itself being blown over to the chicken feather side. Both families would get upset and blamed the other party for the mess. Even though both are technically responsible.

They brought this issue up to the magistrate who immediately dismissed the problem as soon as he read: chicken feathers and garlic peel. 

Ever since then, the Chinese would refer to trivial matters as "chicken feathers and garlic peel."

Moral of the idiom: don't wait for small things to turn into something big

ORIGINAL IDIOM: 鸡毛蒜皮

很早以前,有两家邻居。两家生活很艰苦,卖鸡的要早起拔鸡毛,弄的满地全是毛。卖蒜的要早起剥蒜皮,弄的满地都是蒜皮。

本来两家相安无事,但一刮风就出事了。刮东风时,鸡毛会吹到卖蒜的家院子里。刮西风时,蒜皮会吹进卖鸡家的院子里。两家会经常为这些事争吵。

有一次,两家矛盾升级了。卖鸡的和卖蒜的打起来了,双双负伤,最后对簿公堂。县官一看是为了 “鸡毛” 和 “蒜皮” 这样的小事,便说 “这等鸡毛和蒜皮的小事也来对簿公堂!每人十大板,回去反省吧!“ 后来,鸡毛蒜皮便传开了。人们渐渐用来形容那些琐碎,不起眼的事,或价值很小的东西。


Episode 18: 按图索骥 Using A Book To Find A Horse

按图索骥:AN TU SUO JI

按图索骥:AN TU SUO JI

This is a funny idiom about the most famous horse expert in China...Bo Le. He was a resident from the country of Qin. He recorded everything he knew about horses in an anthology of books called "Shiang Ma Jing." Which was like an encyclopedia on thorough bred horses. His writings could be used to find the fastest, strongest horse...mostly for military/sporting purposes. 

Bo Le had a little son who was obsessed with finding the finest horse on his own. The little boy had thoroughly read the "Shiang Ma Jing" over and over, inside and out. One day he went off to look for a horse on his own. Shortly after running outside, he was SO sure he found a horse that matched the description in his father's books. The boy threw the horse into a sack and excitedly ran to show it off to his father.

Bo Le's son took the horse out of the sack and waited for his father's validation. Turns out, the horse in the sack...was a huge toad! Bo Le laughed and joked to his son: "This horse of yours sure likes to jump, but I don't think anyone can ride it!"

Moral of this idiom: don't always stick by the book (or the rules) also, get your information from multiple sources before coming to a conclusion

ORIGINAL IDIOM: 按图索骥

伯乐是春秋时最会相马的人,他总结自己多年相马的经验,写成一本书,叫 “相马经。” 他的儿子把 “相马经” 背得滚瓜烂熟,准备 “按图索骥” 照书上的标准,去寻找千里马。

几天后,他儿子高高兴兴地回来了,对伯乐说:我找到千里马了!这马和 “相马经” 讲的差不多,就是蹄子不大像。说完,他从布袋里倒出一只大癞蛤蟆来。

伯乐苦笑着说:你找来的这匹马,喜欢蹦跳,可驾不了车呀!