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Chinese allegories Lesson 4
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Chinese allegories

Two-part allegorical saying (of which the first part, always stated, is descriptive, while the second part, often unstated, carries the message)

lăo shŭ guò jiē – rén rén hăn dă
老鼠过街 – 人人喊打
A rat runs across the street. – Everybody shouts, "Kill it!"; to be extremely unpopular

duì niú tán qín – bù qĭ zuò yòng
对牛弹琴 – 不起作用
Play the lute to a cow – address the wrong audience; to act to little effect

sān tiān dă yú, liăng tiān shài wăng – mó yáng gōng
三天打鱼,两天晒网 – 磨洋工
Go fishing for three days and then dry the nets for two – dawdle over one's work; work off and on

xiăo xiàng zi lĭ ná zhú gān – zhí lái zhí qù
小巷子里拿竹竿 – 直来直去
Take a bamboo in an alley – go straight; speak frankly and openly

guò hé chāi qiáo – wàng ēn fù yì
过河拆桥 – 忘恩负义
Demolish the bridge once the river is crossed. – be ungrateful to one's benefactor

bái zhĭ hēi zì – hēi bái fēn míng
白纸黑字 – 黑白分明
(Written) in black and white – in sharp contrast; being clear-cut

zhū bā jiè zhào jìng zi – lĭ wài bù shì rén
猪八戒照镜子 – 里外不是人
Zhu Bajie (Pig in Journey to the West, one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, who carries a rake as a weapon) looks in the mirror – neither he nor his reflection is anything but a pig; (figuratively), trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no-one. When you are in such a situation you feel like "里外不是人".

rè guō shang de mă yĭ – jí de tuán tuán zhuàn
热锅上的蚂蚁 – 急得团团转
Ants crawling frantically on a hot pan – cat on a hot tin roof

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