Episode 20: 东施效颦 Dong Shi Imitates Frown

Dong Shi Xiao Pin

Dong Shi Xiao Pin

说春秋时候,越国有个名叫西施的姑娘,她非常美丽、漂亮,一举一动也很动人。她有心口疼的疾病,犯病时总是用手按住胸口,紧皱眉头。因为人们喜欢她,所以她这副病态,在人们眼里也妩媚可爱,楚楚动人。 西施的邻村有个丑姑娘叫东施,总是想方设法打扮自己。有一次在路上碰到西施,见西施手捂胸口,紧皱眉头,显得异常美丽。她想难怪人们说她漂亮,原来是做出这种样子。如果我也做这个姿势,肯定就变漂亮了。于是她模仿西施的病态。结果人们见了原来就丑的她,现在变成这种疯疯癫癫的样子,象见了鬼一样,赶紧把门关上。

During the Spring and Autumn period, there was a beautiful girl who lived in the country of Yue. Her name was Xi Shi, one of the 4 beauties in Chinese history. She was so freakin' beautiful that everything she did was perceived to be beautiful. Even when she winces from her chest pain she looked gorgeous...painfully gorgeous. Because everyone in the village loved her so much, whenever she was in pain and grabbed her chest, people thought it was rather adorable. 

A few houses away, there lived her girl named Dong Shi. She was on the entire opposite spectrum as Xi Shi. Dong Shi was not very beautiful to begin with, but was someone who kept trying to improve her outer beauty. One day, Dong Shi saw Xi Shi grab her chest on the street, and assumed that it was something "beautiful" people do. So, Dong Shi began to grab her chest for no reason at all. Instead of people perceiving Dong Shi as beautiful, people only saw her as crazy. Whenever they saw Dong Shi running around the street, they'd run inside their homes and shut the front door.

MORAL OF THE IDIOM: Improper imitation CAN have the reverse effect than what you're trying to achieve

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。