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Chinese allegories Lesson 22
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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)

hé shang chī hūn – zhī fă fàn fă
和尚吃荤 – 知法犯法
A Buddhist monk takes meat. – know the law but break it; deliberately flout the law; knowingly violate the law

zhū bā jiè chī rén shēn guŏ – quán bù zhī zī wèi
猪八戒吃人参果 – 全不知滋味
Zhu Bajie (Pig in Journey to the West, one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature) eats ginseng fruit. – He doesn't know the taste at all. This allegory means either not appreciating the taste of food or not knowing the value of something.

shŏu ná jī dàn zŏu huá lù – tí xīn diào dăn
手拿鸡蛋走滑路 – 提心吊胆
Walk on a slippery road with eggs in your hands. – have one's heart in one's mouth; be on tenterhooks

jiāng biān mài shuǐ – duō cǐ yī jǔ
江边卖水 – 多此一举
Sell water at the riverside – make an unnecessary move

jiàn dào hú zi jiù shì yé ye – bù biàn zhēn jiă
见到胡子就是爷爷 – 不辨真假
Anyone is considered to be one's own grandpa, as long as he wears a beard. – fail to make a distinction between true and false

qiáng shàng guà rì lì – yī tiān biàn ge yàng
墙上挂日历 – 一天变个样
A calendar hangs on the wall. – It changes everyday; something changes all the time.

kuài dāo dă dòu fu – liăng miàn guāng
快刀打豆腐 – 两面光
Bean curd cut with a sharp knife – smooth on both sides. "两面光 liăng miàn guāng" is a common saying, meaning trying to please both parties, or being slick and sly.

lăo shǔ diào jìn shū xiāng lǐ – yăo wén jiáo zì
老鼠掉进书箱里 – 咬文嚼字
A mouse falls into a bookcase – chew up the pages. The phrase "咬文嚼字 yăo wén jiáo zì" is mostly used sarcastically to ridicule a pedant who is over-fastidious about wording but fails to grasp the essence of a text. Sometimes it refers to someone who parades his vocabulary just to show off.

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