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Chinese allegories Lesson 28
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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)

lín dài yù de xìng zi – duō chóu shàn găn
林黛玉的性子 – 多愁善感
Like Lin Daiyu, one is excessively sentimental. [Lin Daiyu is a principal character (one of the heroines) in the Chinese classic novel "Dream of the Red Chamber."]

liáng shān bó kàn dào zhù yīng tái – yī jiàn zhōng qíng
梁山伯看到祝英台 – 一见钟情
Like Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, two people fall in love or become captivated at first sight. [The Chinese legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, a well-known tragic love story set in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), is often regarded as the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.]

wáng yáng bŭ láo – wéi shí bù wăn
亡羊补牢 – 为时不晚
It is not too late to mend the fold even after some sheep have been lost. – Better late than never.

xián cài shāo dòu fu – yŏu yán (yán) zài xiān
咸菜烧豆腐 – 有言(盐)在先
Fried bean curd with salted vegetable – literally, there is salt at the beginning; figuratively, there are words beforehand, or to make clear beforehand. ("言," which means "words," is a homophone for "盐," which means "salt.")

bái táng zuĭ ba dāo zi xīn – kŏu mì fù jiàn
白糖嘴巴刀子心 – 口蜜腹剑
Have a sweet tongue but a sinister heart – with honey on one's lips and murder in one's heart; honey-mouthed but dagger-hearted; hypocritical and sinister

lĭ kuí mà sòng jiāng, guò hòu péi bù shi – fù jīng qǐng zuì
李逵骂宋江,过后赔不是 – 负荆请罪
Li Kui scolded Song Jiang, and then apologized to him. – make a humble and heartfelt apology. [Li Kui is one of the 108 heroes of Liangshan Mountain in the Chinese classic novel "Water Margin" or "Heroes of the Marshes" (《水浒传》), nicknamed the "Black Whirlwind" (黑旋风) and generally recognized as a typically honest, loyal but impetuous character. Song Jiang ranks first of 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Calling to Keep Justice" (呼保义).]

xú shù rù cáo yíng – yī yán bù fā
徐庶入曹营 – 一言不发
Like Xu Shu in the Cao camp, one doesn't say a word and remains silent. [Xu Shu was an advisor to the warlord Cao Cao during the late Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) period of Chinese history. He initially served Liu Bei before joining Cao Cao in 208.]

guān gōng kāi dāo pù – huò zhēn jià shí
关公开刀铺 – 货真价实
Guan Gong opens a store to sell swords – quality goods at a fair price. [Guan Gong is a reverent term of address for Guan Yu, a general in the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280) who is renowned for his loyalty.]

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