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Idioms Lesson 35
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Try to go south by driving the chariot north

There once was a man from the North who wanted to travel to Chu. He rode a chariot, traveling on a road heading north. His friend, quite surprised, asked him: "Chu is in the South. You should be traveling south. Why are you heading north?"

"Never mind," the Northerner replied obstinately. "My horse is a good steed. It runs very fast."

His friend said: "No matter how fast it runs, you can never reach Chu by going north."

The Northerner said: "I have prepared enough travel expenses."

His friend said: "Sufficient travel expenses can help you neither."

The Northerner was still more obstinate: "I have a strong and capable groom at my service."

His friend said: "No groom, how capable and strong he may be, can be of any use to you if you stick to going northward."

The traveler did not listen to his friend, so he never reached Chu.

The idiom derived from this story indicates that one's action was the opposite effect to one's intention.

nán yuán bĕi zhé










xīn líng shŏu qiăo
have a lively mind and a quick hand; be clever and deft

xīn zhí kŏu kuài
be frank and outspoken; speak one's mind without any hesitation; be plain-spoken and straightforward

dăn xiăo rú shǔ
as timid as a mouse; chicken-hearted

dăn dà xīn xì
bold but cautious; courageous and wise

yī mù shí háng
take in ten lines at a glance; read very rapidly

yī bù dēng tiān
reach heaven in a single bound – attain the highest level in one step; have a meteoric rise; be rapidly successful

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