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Chinese allegories Lesson 11
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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)

yă ba chī jiăo zi – xīn lĭ yŏu shù
哑巴吃饺子 – 心里有数
A dumb person eats dumplings. – (literally) He knows the number in his mind, although he cannot say it. Figuratively, it means somebody has a clear idea of the situation.

máng rén qí xiā mă – luàn chuăng luàn pèng
盲人骑瞎马 – 乱闯乱碰
A blind man on a blind horse – rushing headlong into disaster

tiào dào huáng hé xĭ bu qīng – yuān wang
跳到黄河洗不清 – 冤枉
Even if one jumped into the Yellow River, one could not wash oneself clean. – One is unjustly or unfairly treated.

guān gōng miàn qián shuă dà dāo – zì bù liàng lì
关公面前耍大刀 – 自不量力
To perform swordplay before an expert like Guan Yu, a general in the period of the Three Kingdoms – overestimate one's abilities; overestimate oneself

zhĭ lăo hǔ – wài qiáng zhōng gān
纸老虎 – 外强中干
Paper tiger – something or someone is outwardly strong but inwardly weak.

hǔ tóu shé wĕi – yŏu shĭ wú zhōng
虎头蛇尾 – 有始无终
With a tiger's head but a snake's tail – fine start and poor finish; to start something but fail to carry it through to the end.

qí lǘ zhăo lǘ – hūn tóu hūn năo
骑驴找驴 – 昏头昏脑
To look for the donkey while riding it – be muddle-headed

shēng mĭ zhǔ chéng shú fàn – găi bù guò lái le
生米煮成熟饭 – 改不过来了
The rice is cooked. – What is done cannot be undone; it can't be helped.

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