Below are a few Chinese proverbs, sayings and quotes or expressions that I have discovered extremely useful. They are all developed in pinyin as Chinese characters might not display properly here.
Chinese Pinyin: “mei chi putao shuo putao suan”
Literal translation – haven’t eaten grapes say grapes sour
Believe that grapes are sour while you have never eaten a grape.
This is a pretty easy proverb to comprehend and use. It’s means you need to opinion or judgment about something you haven’t ever investigated or know almost no about i.e. your opinion has no foundation and you’ve got no to be passing a judgment on a certain topic or thing. Just like somebody that says grapes are sour even though they have not eaten one.
I find mtss is a very useful proverb in China as I often encounter those who’s opinions are just heresay. For example, when individuals find out that I come from Canada the typical conversation that follows is one thing along the distinct how rich and wonderful Canada is. I like to make certain that Chinese people are aware that Canada has poor people too, the streets AREN’T paved with gold despite whatever they may think or hear. One time I told someone that Canada had homeless people along with the local refused to think me. He went on to tell ME what Canada was like despite the fact that he had never already been through it. So the proverb above would have been useful had I known it during those times.
There is the one other proverb almost exactly like the proverb above however with a slightly different meaning:
Chinese Pinyin: “chi budao putao shuo putao suan”
Literal translation – eat not arrive grape say grape sour
Say/believe grapes are sour in case you are unable to eat them (to be able to falsely comfort oneself)
This proverb or saying is almost the same as the initial but the meaning is pretty different. It’s common for people as humans to envy might know about don’t have or can’t afford. So we often pretend unfortunately we cannot want the one thing we can’t have or afford so that you can comfort ourselves, but we know what mind games we’re trying to play on ourselves and so do the individuals who hear us try and do so. That’s basically what this expression is meaning. A nice new BMW car drives by and someone says “Wow such a nice car” so you say “Ah BMWs aren’t extraordinary anyway”. You don’t actually believe what you are saying however you say it anyways.
Chinese Pinyin: “guangong mianqian shua dadao”
Literal translation – Guangong (name of famous warlord) looking at play sword
Play with a sword inside presence of Guangong
This basically means to attempt to show ones limited skills within the presence of someone that is very skilled.
Guangong (also known as Guanyu) was obviously a noted excellent swordsman. No one dared challenge him to your sword fight, type of like a Billy the Kid of Chinese history. So of course if someone was attempting to show their swordsmanship before Guanyu it could be embarrassing, really, while he would be no match for Guanyu.
I especially like the idioms that encompass a little bit of Chinese culture or history like this one. Any idiom involving Guanyu, Zhugeliang and the like figures are typical the much more intriguing and interesting i believe.
The contemporary usage with this proverb I think is actually comparatively obvious. If anyone is trying to flaunt their skills inside the presence of somebody who’s skills surpass the “flaunter” then this proverb applies.
There are 2 sides to its usage I think. One usage is if perhaps you wish to express your humility. If someone is more skilled than you in something however, you still perform the task for reasons unknown you can say that you are guan1gong1 mian4qian2 shua1 da4dao1. If you say this in this situation you’re guaranteed to get yourself a smile or laugh from a chinese friend. Because you’re essentially admitting that they’re much devzpky03 than you with this skill (whatever it might be). So it’s ways to give them a compliment or allow them to have some “face”. Further, a foreigner employing an expression this way which is all-around their hearts is bound to have an excellent reception.
In an adverse way this might also be used to sort of put someone within their place i.e. somebody that thinks somewhat too much of themselves since they’re limitedly skilled in certain area. If someone is within their presence whom is much better next the proverb could possibly be used to humble them as well as to let them realise they ought to step aside and allow pro take over.
Another idiom that ultimately carries exactly the same meaning is ban1men2nong4fu3. The meaning is basically exactly the same, but I much prefer using guan1gong1 mian4qian2 shua1 da4dao1 due to the visual image along with the cultural content.
Chinese Pinyin: “luobo baicai ge you suo ai”
Literal translation – Turnip Chinese Cabbage each has actual love
Turnip, Cabbage people have their own preference
It basically means It means “Everybody has their very own personal taste” or “Each persons desires and demands are different”
This is one kind of my MOST used expressions. If you live in China then this is a MUST learn. Reason being I was tired of going into restaurants and getting dishes to be modified for the way I like them (i.e. don’t put any hot peppers in, as I dislike spicy food). Too many times the waitress informed me it was “impossible”. When I asked why was it “impossible” the result was always “because it won’t taste good that way”. I have no clue where this logic possibly arises from and how it may be so common nationwide, yet it’s. So I was SO happy to stumble upon this idiom/phrase which basically throws a spanner in their logic using their very own language. Now I don’t should argue with all the waitresses or explain to them that I have the right to decide precisely what does and doesn’t taste good. Once I get any resistance in the staff regarding my wants to change the dishes to my liking I simply utter the proverb/saying above and they also normally smile (surprised a foreigner knows how to use this kind of expression) and so they get the point. Strange that this expression exists within their language yet somehow they insists on telling others simply what does and doesn’t taste good.