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Chinese allegories Lesson 5
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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)

fēng chuī qiáng tóu căo – liăng biān dăo
风吹墙头草 – 两边倒
The grass on top of a wall blows either way with the wind – someone who sits on the fence will end up going along with the crowd; to sit on the fence

dă zhǒng liăn chōng pàng zi – sĭ yào miàn zi
打肿脸充胖子 – 死要面子
Try to look fat by slapping one's face till it's swollen – to try to look impressive; be keen on face-saving

māo kū hào zi – jiă cí bēi
猫哭耗子 – 假慈悲
A cat crying over a mouse's death – hypocritical show of sorrow or sympathy; shedding crocodile tears

lăo hŭ zuĭ li bá yá – zhăo sĭ
老虎嘴里拔牙 – 找死
Pulling teeth from a tiger's mouth – seeking death; dare the greatest danger; beard the lion in his den

jī dàn pèng shí tou – zì bù liàng lì
鸡蛋碰石头 – 自不量力
Like an egg striking a rock – attacking somebody far stronger than oneself; overestimating oneself or one's strength; overrating oneself

jiăn le zhī ma diū le xī guā – tān xiăo shī dà
捡了芝麻丢了西瓜 – 贪小失大
Pick up the sesame seeds but overlook the watermelons – covet a little and lose a lot; seek small gains but incur big losses; be penny-wise and pound-foolish

méi mao hú zi yī bă zhuā – zhŭ cì bù fēn
眉毛胡子一把抓 – 主次不分
Try to grasp the eyebrows and the beard all at the same time – try to attend to everything at once irrespective of priority; confuse the primary with the secondary

wáng pó mài guā – zì mài zì kuā
王婆卖瓜 – 自卖自夸
Wang Po keeps praising his melons while selling them. – ring one's own bell; blow one's own trumpet

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