Episode 16: 鹬蚌相争 The Fight Between The Shell And The Snipe

This is a fantastic parable about a clam who wouldn't let go of a snipe, and the snipe refused to let go of the clam. 

The snipe says to the clam: If I don't let go today, and I don't let go tomorrow, you'll get de-hydrated and I'll be seeing a dead clam on the beach tomorrow.

The clam says to the snipe: If I don't let go today, and I don't let go tomorrow. You'll simply starve, and I'll be seeing a dead snipe on the beach tomorrow.

Little do they know, neither of them are winners. They're both about to be dinner. (Oooo that rhymes!)

Learn to let go of the things before they consume you.

Episode 15: 盲人摸象 Blind Men And The Elephant

This idiom is a fantastic parable about 5 blind men who all touch only a part of an elephant and insisted they saw its entirety. Be humble. Allow the possibility that you could very well be wrong about something.

 

ORIGINAL IDIOM: 盲人摸象

从前,有四个盲人很想知道大象是什么样子,可他们看不见,只好用手摸。胖盲人先摸到了大象的牙齿。他就说:“我知道了,大象就像一个又大、又粗、又光滑的大萝卜。”高个子盲人摸到的是大象的耳朵。“不对,不对,大象明明是一把大扇子!”他大叫起来。“大象只是根大柱子。”矮个子盲人摸着大象的腿说道。那位年老的盲人却说:“唉,大象哪有那么大,它只不过是一根绳子。”四个盲人不断争吵,都说自己摸到的才是真正大象的样子。而实际上呢?他们一个也没说对。

Episode 14: 叶公好龙 Mister Ye Loves Dragons

During the Spring and Autumn period (771-476BC), there was an official from the country of Chu by the name of Mister Ye Gong

Mister Ye was famous for being a huge fan of dragons. His ceilings would have paintings of dragons, the beams in his house would be carved with dragon designs. All four walls in his home had paintings of dragons.

His reputation for being a dragon-enthusiast spread to the dragon deity in the heavens. This real-life dragon was humbled by Ye Gong's devotion and thought: hmm, I must pay this Ye Gong fellow a visit. 

So the dragon deity flew down for an unannounced visit...determined to meet Ye Gong face-to-face. But here's the thing about dragons, when they descend from the sky, they are followed by thunder, lightning and a heck of a lot of wind. 

As the dragon approached, unbeknownst to Ye Gong, the heavy wind and rain caused his windows to fly open. As Ye Gong went to shut his windows, he was shocked to see a giant dragon face. A REAL LIVE DRAGON was staring right at him. Cheeses!

The sight of the dragon was SO tremendous for Ye Gong that he let out a blood-curdling scream before fainting on the spot. 

Moral of the idiom: Sometimes, you think you know and love someone/something, but you have NO idea. You really have to live or experience it to have a deeper understanding. 

ORIGINAL IDIOM: 叶公好龙

春秋时,楚国有个官员自称叶公。

叶公喜欢龙在当地出了名的,家中梁柱上雕着龙,墙上画着龙,被上绣着龙,简直是个龙的世界。天上的真龙知道了这事,非常感动,决定亲自去拜访叶公。真龙下凡,风起云涌, 电闪雷鸣,叶公赶紧去关窗,正好和探头进来的真龙打了个照面。真龙双角耸立,两眼闪亮,好不威风。叶公吓得大喊一声,瘫倒在地上。

大家知道了这件事,都说:叶公喜欢的是似龙非龙的假龙,而不是真的龙啊!

Episode 13: 杀鸡儆猴 Killing The Chicken To Tame The Monkey

Killing The Chicken To Frighten The Monkey

Once upon a time, there was a street artist who purchased a monkey in hopes of turning it into a performing monkey. This particular monkey was not very obedient and gave the street artist a very hard time. The artist had enough and purchased a chicken on the market. He would terrorize the chicken by beating drums and making awfully loud noises. 

When the chicken was frozen in fear, the artist took a cleaver and beheaded the chicken in front of his disobedient monkey. By making an example out of the chicken, the artist was able to tame the mischievous monkey who never stepped out of line ever again.

Moral of the idiom: You might need to make an example of out something to prove a point. Also, fear (although not encouraged) might be the answer. 


ORIGINAL IDIOM:

从前,有个耍猴人买了一只不听话的猴子。艺人不太满意,就到市场买了一只公鸡,对它不断的敲锣打鼓。公鸡吓呆了,这个艺人正好趁机会在猴子面前把这只鸡给杀了。从此,艺人说什么,或敲锣打鼓,猴子毫不含糊的乖乖执行命令。

Episode 12: 刻舟求剑 Marking The Boat To Retrieve The Sword

Marking The Boat To Retrieve The Sword

TRANSLATION:

During the Warring States, there was a man from the country of Chu. He was sailing on a small boat when all of a sudden, a gust of wind rocked the boat and knocked his sword into the water. Everyone on the boat expressed concern for him and encouraged him to immediately retrieve the sword. But the man was not worried and simply took out a knife and made a mark on the side of the boat. He then nonchalantly added, "My sword fell at the exact location of this mark."

He then encouraged the boat to keep sailing toward the dock. Everyone on the boat was a bit confused by the man's actions but they kept sailing. Once they docked, the man from Chu removed his clothes and jumped into the waters. He swam around to the location of the mark he made on the side of the boat to look for his sword. And to nobody's surprise, the sword could not be found. 

Moral of the idiom: One cannot be so obstinate and unwillingly to change. While one method might work for one purpose, it might not work elsewhere. Don't settle for an one purpose fits all solution.


ORIGINAL STORY: 刻舟求剑

战国时,有个楚国人乘坐一条小船过江。一阵风吹来,小船猛一摇晃,楚国人随身带的佩剑掉进江里。同船的人赶紧叫船家停船,让楚国人下去打捞。这个楚国人摇摇头,不慌不忙掏出小刀,在船舷上剑掉下去的地方,刻了一个记号,自言自语地说:我的剑是从这儿掉下去的!

然后他起身招呼船家继续行船。大家感到莫名其妙。不一会儿,船靠岸了,这位楚国人脱去衣服,从船舷上刻记号的地方跳下水去。他在水里捞来捞去,结果当然是毫无所获。

这个成语比喻办事刻板,拘泥固执,不知变通。

Episode 11: 猴子救月 Monkey Rescues The Moon


MONKEY RESCUES THE MOON

Once upon a time, there was a forest of cute little monkeys. You can imagine macaques, chimps, or even pygmy marmosets. They were playing near a well, but for the sake of Emily's version, it was a lake. Because let's be real, monkeys don't naturally gather around wells. 

One particular little monkey noticed that there was a reflection of the moon shining from the surface of the lake. Not knowing that it was merely a reflection, he freaked the heck out and thought the moon must have fell into the lake!

He then called all of his monkey friends over to the lake in hopes of scooping the moon back out. After all, if the moon fell into the lake, we must put it back into the sky! All of the monkeys agreed that the moon must be saved, and they all climbed up a nearby tree and clung to each other by their tails. (As pictured)

SO CUTE! 🐵

SO CUTE! 🐵

Sadly, as soon as the first monkey reached his hands into the water to scoop out the moon, the water slipped out of his hands. The moon's reflection disappeared and the monkeys realized they made a foolish mistake. 

Now, in the original story, the tree branch they hung from also broke and all the little monkeys fell into the water. But that's too gratuitous for my preferences. Monkeys can swim and I'm sure they were all fine.

Moral of the idiom:

Think before you act, don't jump to conclusions. And if you happen to be one of the monkey's buddies, maybe mull it over before you decide to hop on. Be like the moon and reflect :) sometimes the answer is right there if you simply look up. 


ORIGINAL STORY: 猴子救月

从前,有一群猴子住在森林中,森林的附近有一口井。有一天晚上,一只猴子跑到井边去游玩,无意中向井里张望,发现井中有月亮的倒影,愚笨的猴子以为月亮掉到了水中,于是飞快地跑回森林中,通知猴王说:“我看见了月亮掉到井里面去了,我们应该将它救出来,把它放到天上去”其他的猴子听到了纷纷说:“我赞成!我赞成!”

于是猴王便带着所有的猴子们一起去救月亮。

一群猴子来的井边,开始商议如何救月亮,一只猕猴发表意见说:“我们可以先由一位同伴爬到树上,然后大家由上而下接手,就可以达到井里面救月亮了”。大家赞同它的意见,先爬到了一颗靠近井边的树,由上而下吊着树枝,树枝因承受不了太多的猴子的重量,有点快要断裂了。最后一只猴子终于碰到了井中的月,但经过手一搅动,月亮不见了,在它发现不对劲的同时,树枝也因为负荷不了一群猴子的重量,终于断裂了,一群笨猴子个个都掉进了井里,丧失了宝贵的生命。

Episode 10: 对牛弹琴 Playing Music To A Cow


musictocow2.jpg

对牛弹琴

古代时,有一位音乐家名叫公明仪,他才华出众,弹得一手好琴。他的琴声能把人带入如痴如醉的境地。

一天,公明仪来到郊外,他随身带着古琴。他来到一片草地,心想:大自然真美啊!

他兴致大发,忍不住要弹奏一曲,可是没有人欣赏。他看到不远处有头牛正在静静地吃草,四周一片翠绿,好一副和谐的春日图景。公明仪收环境的感染,心想:我就弹给牛听吧!

于是,他就在牛旁边坐下,认认真真弹了起来。他首先弹了一首高深的曲子,曲调婉转优美,极为动人,可那头牛却还在自顾自低头吃草,对美妙的琴声无动于衷。

公明仪觉得自己的琴声受到冷落,又生气又伤心。转念一想,也许牛听不懂那么高深的音乐于是又选了一首音律简单的曲子弹奏起来。那头牛有所触动,抬起头来看这边。公明仪非常高兴,以为自己的努力没有白费。牛晃晃尾巴,悠闲自在地走开了,完全不管公明仪的曲子。

过路人劝他说:不是你弹得不好,是牛听不懂啊!

公明仪感慨的说:不是牛愚蠢,是我自己蠢,弹琴得看对象。

这个成语比喻对愚蠢的人讲深奥的道理,对外行人讲内行的话;也用来讥笑讲道理不看对象的人,贬低那些听不懂别人高深道理的人。

Playing Music To A Cow

In ancient times, there was a talented musician by the name of Gong Ming Yi. He adored music so much he would carry his Zheng (a classical Chinese string instrument) everywhere he went.

Classical Gu Zheng 

One day, when Gong Ming Yi was on a walk, he came across a beautiful green pasture. He noticed a cow grazing in the middle of the pasture and sat down to play his instrument. Gong Ming Yi wanted to serenade the cow in this picturesque field, so he strummed the most complicated song he knew. The cow showed no reaction whatsoever. 

Gong Ming Yi figured the composition was probably too deep for the cow to understand, so he played another piece. This time, the cow glanced up at him, wagged his tail but then continued to graze mindlessly.

The musician then realized the cow would never understand his music. He was saddened by the cow's indifference to his talent...thinking his skills were not up to par. People would tell Gong Ming Yi that it was not that his skills were unimpressive, it's that the cow will never understand musicality. They insisted that the cow is simply dumb. 

Gong Ming Yi replied, "It's not that the cow that is dumb, it is me who is dumb. I did not realize to whom I was playing music."

Moral of The Idiom: Not everyone will speak the same language as you, so do not expect them to understand. Don't expect everyone to see eye-to-eye with you. Know the people you are communicating with, it might not necessarily be their fault for not level-ing with you.

Episode 9: SPECIAL CASTRATION EPISODE!!

Hey folks! I sat down with Dr. Dennis Zheng...in his own home and forced him to discuss the castration process with me. I felt as if it is my duty to educate everyone on how Chinese eunuchs prepared themselves for their new role as palace watchdogs. Dr. Zheng is a Harvard graduate with a whopping 3.7 GPA, but don't be alarmed...he makes up the missing 0.3 with his charm. 

Episode 8: 指鹿为马 Pointing At A Deer And Insisting It's A Horse


指鹿为马

秦始皇死后,宦官赵高把秦始皇的小儿子胡亥扶上王位,成为秦二世。赵高当了丞相,还想篡夺帝位。秦二世昏庸无道,对赵高言听计从。赵高一时权倾朝野。为了试探朝廷的大臣们,赵高想出一计。

有一天,上朝时,赵高把一头鹿献给秦二世。他指着鹿说:“这是臣献给陛下的一匹马!

秦二世很诧异: “丞相,这是一头鹿啊!“

赵高固执的说:“不,这是一匹马!不信你可以问问众位大臣。”

许多大臣畏惧赵高的权势,随声附和说:“对!对!是马,是匹好马!”

只有几个正直的大臣说是一头鹿。事后,赵高把那几个说是鹿的大臣都杀害了,而那些附和他的大臣,一个个被提拔重用。


Pointing At A Deer and Insisting It's A Horse

After the death of China's first emperor: Qin Shi Huang Di (or more famously known as Emperor Qin). His son Qin the 2nd inherited the throne and became Emperor Qin 2. 

Emperor Qin 2 was just a figurehead as Prime Minister Zhao Gao, a eunuch, was the real power behind the throne. Back in China, you had to be castrated to serve closely to the Emperor, as not to impregnate his concubines. Zhao Gao was an especially clever eunuch, and while he may not have any balls, he held a LOT of power in the political sphere.

Prime Minister Zhao Gao wanted the Emperor's spot for his own, so he devised a plan to test out the loyalties of the other officials in the imperial court. He presented Emperor Qin 2 with a deer and said to him, "VOILA your highness, this is a horse!"

The young Emperor Qin 2 was shocked and said, "But Prime Minister, this is clearly a deer."

Prime Minister Zhao Gao stubbornly retorted, "Your highness, this is a horse! If you don't believe me, ask the other officials in the court."

Several of the court officials followed in Zhao Gao's lead because they feared his power and wrath. They went along in deceiving the young Emperor bleating: "Yes! It's a horse, a fine horse!"

Others took the honest route and defied Prime Minister Zhao Gao, and they were brought to their deaths. The officials who lied for Zhao Gao survived the test and even ended up with a pleasant promotion...moving up in ranks.

Moral of the Idiom: Someone who points at a deer, but insists on saying it's a horse is deliberately lying. It's also used to refer to someone who distorts the truth/reality. 

Episode 7: 精卫填海 To Fill The Ocean


精卫填海

传说在远古时代,炎帝有个活波可爱的女儿,名字叫女娃。有一天,她去东海游玩,突然暴风骤雨袭来,惊涛骇浪猛卷,女娃来不及逃避,被卷进了汹涌的大海。

不久,大海回复了平静。海面上飞起一只美丽的小鸟,它不停叫着:精卫-精卫-!

它就是女娃变成的精卫鸟。这种鸟形状像乌鸦,头上有花纹,叫声很像 “精卫!“

精卫鸟恨大海,它要把海填平。它从西山衔来树枝,石子,投向大海,每天每日,从不间断。虽然大海没有被填平,可它矢志不移的坚毅精神多了不起啊!


To Fill The Ocean

Once upon a time, ages ago...Yan Di (one of the forefathers of Chinese civilization) had an adorable daughter. Her name is Nu Wa. One day, Nu Wa was playing by the ocean, when an atrocious storm swept over and the fierce waves drew her in. 

Tragically, Nu Wa was unable to escape the storm in time and she drowned. 

That escalated quickly didn't it?!

Well, the story goes on...

The storm that sucked in Nu Wa eventually died down and when the ocean was calm again, a little bird known as the Jing Wei arose. The bird made a calling noise that sounded like: jing wei...jing wei! So people named the bird after its calls "Jing Wei."

This little Jing Wei (which was really Nu Wa's reincarnation) harbored a resentment for the ocean that drowned her. Her hatred of the ocean was so deep, that she wanted to get rid of it. Now, filling the ocean this may seem like an impossible feat, but the Jing Wei was determined.

So, everyday, little by little she would fly to shore an gather branches and stones. Then, she would fly back to the ocean and fill it up with whatever she could find. She would fly back and forth, back and forth, trying her best to fill up the vast ocean. And she never stopped.

Moral of the Idiom: Filling the entire ocean is an improbably task but not impossible. This idiom refers to the determination and perseverance that one possesses when faced with the impossible.

Episode 6: 开天辟地 Heaven Separated From Earth

This is the first idiom I'm introducing a Chinese idiom in 2016. I figured...what better way to kick off the year with a Chinese myth! Funny enough, this myth is also an idiom, which means it has 4 characters: 开天辟地. The literal translation is: heaven separated from earth. 

开天辟地

神话中传说,世上最早时,天地浑然一体。不分天地,不分上下左右,世界像个鸡蛋,天地地开创人盘古就在蛋里。

一万八千年后,盘古突然醒起来了,从蛋里走出来。他什么都看不见,闷的难受极了。他变出一把神斧,朝鸡蛋壳用力一劈,劈开了混沌。

蛋里淡淡的烟云冉冉上升,变成青天。浑浊的沉渣逐渐变成了大地。从此,天和地分开了。

但是盘古担心天地会合拢,他就弯曲着背把天地撑开. 他手托青天,脚踏大地,站在天地之中。这样又过了一万八千年,天地再也不合在一起,盘古才安然死去。

他呼出的气,变成风和云。他留下的声音,变成雷霆。他的左眼变成太阳,右眼变成月亮。头发,胡子变成星星,他的血液变成江河。盘古是这样创了世界。

开创伟大事业,称开天辟地。

Heaven Separates From Earth

According to a legend long ago, the sky and the earth were glued together. There was no up, down, left or right. The world was a glob of delicious chaos…like an egg! 

18,000 years after the world was created, an entity known as Panku awoken from this egg. But he couldn’t see anything through the nebulous glob and felt the atmosphere was too suffocating. 

Now Panku was very powerful, like a super genie and he conjured up a magic axe, hacking his way out of the cloudy environment.

Shortly, the murky clouds opened up and the skies became clear. The dark muck on the ground cleared up and became dirt. He had hacked away so much the sky and the earth slowly separated.

Panku however, was concerned that without his constant hacking, the sky and the earth will eventually stick back together again. He wedged his back against the sky, and lifted his hands up to keep it in place. He placed his feet firmly on the ground and pushed the sky and earth away from each other. 

Poor Panku stayed in this uncomfortable position for another 18,000 years, making sure the sky and earth would never close ever again. 

It was in this position that Panku passed away…but his entity blended in with the world. His every breath became the winds. The sounds that he once made, became the thunder we hear. His left eye became the sun, and his right eye became the moon. His hair and his beard disintegrated and became the stars we see at night. The blood that was once coursing through his veins became the rivers and oceans. 

Moral of this idiom: This is how the Chinese explained how the world was created. But it is also used when referring to something that is unprecedented. Or, to refer to a trailblazer. 

Episode 5: 买椟还珠 To Buy The Jewelbox But Return The Jewel

Hello readers/listeners! I'm a bit late with last week's Chinese idiom because I got super sick during this temperature change. Won't happen again! I got sick because I hate wearing pants, but I learned my lesson and will wear pants more often during these winter months.

This next story is one of my faves. It talks about how some rich folks know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. 

It's called: 买椟还珠, which means "to buy the box, but return the jewel"

买椟还珠

春秋时有个楚国人,他得到一粒大珍珠,为了将珍珠卖个好价钱,他专门请人用上等的木兰香木做了一只精致的木盒,还用彩色的玉石镶嵌出漂亮的图案,再用名贵的香料一熏,盒子显得华贵无比。

楚人将珍珠装进木盒,带到郑国集市上叫卖。

有位郑国的富豪走过来,他取过盒子,仔细观看,爱不释手。

楚人见他喜爱,便报出一个很高的价位这富豪毫不犹豫,马上取钱买下了他打开的盒子,把珍珠随手还给楚人,抱着空盒子高高兴兴地走了。

To Buy the Box, But Return the Jewel

During the Spring and Autumn period (circa 771 - 476BC) before China was modern day China, there was a kingdom called Chu. There was a man from the kingdom of Chu who got his hands on a huge pearl. He wanted to sell this pearl at a decent price, so he hired a designer to custom-build a box made with magnolia wood...specifically for this pearl. 

This bespoke box was then decorated with jade and other gems and was absolutely beautiful. The box itself looked like it was worth a million bucks.

So this man from the kingdom of Chu went to the neighboring kingdom of Zheng where he could peddle his precious pearl. He then placed the pearl in the beautiful custom box and took it to the market. 

A rich fellow from the Zheng kingdom was strolling through the market and immediately fell in love with the box. He simply could not keep his hands off of it!

When the salesman from Chu saw that the rich fellow wanted the box, he jacked up the price. Without hesitation, the rich man immediately took out his money to complete the transaction. To the surprise of the salesman, the wealthy buyer took the pearl out of the beautiful box and returned it to him...walking away with only the box. 

 

Moral of this idiom: Some people completely miss the point. They ignore the fundamental situation at hand because they have poor judgment (or in this story - poor taste in jewels).

Episode 4: 画蛇添足 Adding Feet To The Snake

This long-awaited idiom is called "Adding Feet to The Snake."

In Chinese it is called Hua She Tian Zu 画蛇添足。What does it mean to add feet to the snake you ask? Well it means you are adding more than necessary. Because everyone knows snakes don't need feet! Even if you give snakes feet...they won't know how to use them!


* This is one of my favorite Chinese idioms aka Chengyu. From now on, if I use the term "Chengyu," please understand that it is interchangeable with "Chinese idioms."

画蛇添足

楚国有户人家祭祀祖先,祭礼结束后,主人就把祭过祖先的一壶酒赏给办事的几个人喝。

人多酒少,不够分,大家商量出一个办法:比赛画蛇,谁先化成一条蛇,那壶酒就归谁。于是,大家同时开始画蛇。

有个人画得快,一会就完成了。他一把拿过酒壶,说:“再蛇蛇画几只脚也来得及!” 说着,就动手给蛇添足。

这时,另一个人也画好了。他夺过酒壶,说:“蛇没有脚,添脚是多此一举,这就归我了!” 

大家都表示同意。

那个先画成蛇的人,因为 “画蛇添足,” 反而没有喝到酒。


TRANSLATION: Adding Feet to A Snake

Long long long long time ago, in the Hegemonic state of Chu (during the Zhou dynasty circa 260 BC) there was a family paying respects to their ancestors. After the tribute, the master of ceremony took out a bottle of wine to share with other members who came to pay their respects. 

There was too little wine to go around. So, they decided to come up with a little challenge where the winner takes all. The challenge was to make sketches into the dirt, and see who would be the first to complete a drawing of a snake. Everyone agreed.

One member was especially fast, he snatched his trophy wine and bragged to the others, "I was so fast, I even have time to draw feet for the snake." With that said, he picked up his drawing stick and added little feet to his already complete snake.

At this moment, another member of the family finished his artwork, grabbed the bottle of wine from the first winner and declared, "Snakes don't even have legs! That's completely unnecessary, this wine is rightfully mine!" Everybody agreed with his logic.

The dude who originally finished first but decided to add unnecessary legs not only failed to draw a snake, but also failed to sip that sweet sweet wine.

Moral of the idiom: Don't go out of your way to do unnecessary things, it might have repercussions. 

 

Episode 3: 守株待兔 To Sit By The Tree, And Wait For The Rabbit

Jumping right into the story here. Today's lesson is a call for action- to stop being lazy and do something with our lives. I've translated it to: Sitting by the tree, waiting for the rabbit...

In Chinese, this idiom is known as 守株待兔. A bunny bashes its head into a tree and sets off a sequence of unfortunate events. Ultimately, this idiom is telling us to work hard and not rely on anyone else! Man, we can't rely on bunnies for anything! 

守株待兔

春秋时,宋国有个农夫。有一天,他在田地劳作,汗流浃背,特别辛苦,
忽然,一只野兔奔了过来。它惊恐万分,瞎炮乱窜,一头撞在树桩上,倒在那儿不动了。农夫非常高兴,上前抓住兔子,回家美美吃了一顿兔子肉。农夫想:种地多辛苦,每天捡几只野兔,够吃够喝了。
从此,他不再干活儿,成天守在树桩那儿,等着捡兔子。日子一天天过去,他再也没见到过野兔子的影子,田地却荒芜了。
比喻死守经验,不知变通,讽刺妄想不劳而获的侥幸心理。

TRANSLATION: SIT BACK AND WAIT

The literal translation for this proverb would be: sitting by the tree waiting for the rabbit. But since that makes no grammatical sense, I figured the translation is simply sit back and wait.

The ancient Chinese passed down this proverb to warn us the downsides of sitting back and waiting. Long long ago, during the Spring and Autumn period (770BC-476BC) there was a farmer from the Song country. One day, he was plowing his field under the harsh sun...sweat dripping down his back and all that jazz. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wild rabbit appeared and frantically ran into a tree. It bashed its head into the tree trunks, and immediately passed away. (And went to heaven I hope).

The farmer saw this and was thrilled. He grabbed the lifeless rabbit and took it home to make rabbit stew. He thought to himself: working on the fields is such hard work, if only I could pick up a rabbit like this every day. Life would be just dandy!

Ever since then, he put a stop to his farming and decided to guard the trees- waiting for rabbits to bash their heads again. Days go by and there's not even a tiny hint of rabbits nearby.

Now of course, this proverb is strictly metaphorical. But the character in this story was literally sitting around on his butt, waiting for a suicidal rabbit to come his way. His methods were ludicrous, wouldn't you say?

Moral of the idiom: Don't be delusional because of one lucky incident. Don't sit back and wait around for luck, get up and take action!

Episode 2: 一举两得 Achieving Two Things At Once

This episode gives a brief history surrounding the myths of where Chinese people came from! Before this podcast, I didn't even know! Oh the shame of not knowing one's ancestors...


Anyways, today's story is the Chinese equivalent of the English idiom "kill two birds with one stone." This is the idea that an individual can accomplish two things with a single action. I personally found it curious that this idea is prevalent among several cultures.

Most of us are familiar with "kill two birds with one stone," and upon further discussing idioms with my boyfriend (who is Ukrainian) he tells me that the Ukrainians also have a similar story.  I was so excited by this discovery, I wanted to share the Chinese version of the idiom as well, and it goes ( Yi Ju Liang De ). Here's the story for your amusement, it's actually quite violent:

ONE ACTION ACHIEVES TWO THINGS:

一举两得
卞庄子是春秋时鲁国人,他力大无比,胆量过人。有一次,山上出现了两只老虎,卞庄子一听,马上拔出宝剑,就要上山刺虎。旅店里有个仆人一把拽住他说:壮士,不用急,现在,现在那两只老虎正在争吃一头牛!它们拼命搏斗,力气小的会被咬死,力气大的也一定会精疲力竭,伤痕累累。那时候你再上山去,对付剩下的那只老虎,岂不是轻而易举! 而且还可以赢得刺死两只猛虎的美名!
卞庄子听了,觉得很有道理。后来,他果然按照这个人说的办,没费多大力气就杀死了老虎,一举两得

TRANSLATION: 

One Action Achieves Two Things

During China's Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) there was a brave warrior called Bian Zhuang Zi. He was from this area named Lu- but the geography isn't important. 

Anyway, he was as strong as warriors come. One day, two tigers were fighting at a nearby mountain, and Bian Zhuang Zi's first instinct was to take out his precious sword and hike up the mountains to slay the two tigers. 

At this time, a guest at the same hotel Bian Zhuang Zi was staying grabbed the warrior by his arm and said: Don't rush to the mountains, right now the tigers are tearing up a live cow. After that, they'll fight to the death and there can only be one survivor. The winning tiger will be exhausted by the time the fight is over. THAT'S the moment you should go up the mountains to slay the remaining tiger. Then, you can even take credit for killing BOTH tigers. Wouldn't that be a glorious reputation to uphold?

Bian Zhuang Zi agreed. That was the way things had to be done. He took the wise man's advice and without much effort, easily slain the surviving tiger. Hence the Chinese idiom: one action achieves two things.

I hope you enjoyed this Sunday's story, along with the whimsical photo! 

Episode 1: 一字千金 One Word Is Worth 1,000 Pieces Of Gold


The idiom in this episode is called: 一字千金 which means, one word equals one thousand pieces of gold. That's a lot of gold! Why are words so expensive? Listen to find out!

This is where I introduce ancient Chinese idioms (成语故事) that have been passed down for centuries, and I do my best to make them more understandable to the non-Chinese-speaking world. 

Learning Chinese is HARD. Even a fluent speaker like myself (so humble I know...) will have trouble understanding the backstory behind each idiom. But I cannot emphasize the importance of learning Chinese in this decade. So here's to making my language fun!

I'll begin the first entry with the importance of the number one.

ONE WORD IS WORTH 1,000 IN GOLD

一字千金
战国后期,吕不韦当了秦国的丞相。他广招学者名士,一时竟有三千人之多。吕不韦叫他们发挥个人的特长写作,然后将作品编辑成一部巨作。这部作品共26卷,计260,000 字,内容可谓应有尽有。
吕不韦把书定名为 《吕氏春秋》,并把原稿公开展览,还宣布说:能指出错误的人,或能删一字的人,重赏千金。
几天过去,始终没有人去碰。一字千金的运气,《吕氏春秋》是吕相国的得意之作,谁有胆量去指出它的不是呢?
翻译:一个字价值千金。形容文辞精妙,价值很高。

TRANSLATION:

One Word is Worth One Thousand in Gold

During China's Warring States circa 475-221 BC, a wealthy businessman by the name of Lu Bu Wei became the prime minister. He invited celebrity scholars from across the land, and gathered at least 3,000 of them all at once. Prime Minister Lu asked them to collect their finest work to put together one final masterpiece. This compilation resulted in 26 volumes, with an estimate of 260,000 words, featuring content about everything in life. 

Prime Minister Lu called it, <The Annals>, and published it for the world to see. He decreed, "Anyone who can find fault in the compilation of works, or can eliminate even one word, will receive 1,000 pieces in gold." 

Several days passed, and not a single soul dared to edit <The Annals> for the people feared the power of Prime Minister Lu. Nobody wanted to challenge authority. 

Moral of the Idiom: It literally meant that one word was equal to 1,000 pieces in gold. "One Word is Worth One Thousand in Gold" refers to the massive power that can come from a single word.