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10 pairs of contradictory Chinese idioms

光阴似箭.png


Here are 10 sets of idioms that are not so much apposite as opposite:

以下是十对对立成语或俗语:

 

1. 光阴似箭 vs. 度日如年

 

光阴似箭 (guāngyīnsìjiàn): Literally, "time flies like arrows", is used to describe how time flies and passes as fast as a flying arrow.

“光阴似箭”的英文字面意思为“time flies like arrows”,指时间像飞箭一样迅速地流逝。

 

度日如年 (dùrìrúnián): Literally, "pass a day as if passing a year", means that each day seems to last forever i.e. why is time so goddamn slow?

“度日如年”的英文字面意思为“pass a day as if passing a year”,比喻每天时间过得非常慢。 

2. 出淤泥而不染 vs. 近墨者黑

 

出淤泥而不染 (chū yūní ér bù rǎn): originally describes how lotuses can emerge from the mud without being tainted by it. As time passed, its meaning evolved to mean praising the virtue someone lives or grew up in bad surroundings but has not been degraded by it.

“出淤泥而不染“最初是指形容荷花生长在淤泥之中却不被污泥所污染。后来用于赞美某个人虽然生长在污俗的环境中,却能保持纯真的品质。

近墨者黑 (jìn mò zhě hēi): literally "proximity to ink makes you black". The full idiom is 近朱者赤,近墨者黑 (jìn zhū zhě chì, jìn mò zhě hēi) (what's next to vermillion turns red, what's next to ink turns black). It is a metaphor for being around good people having a good influence, and being around bad people having a bad influences.

“近墨者黑”的英文字面意思为“proximity to ink makes you black”,其完整版本为“近朱者赤,近墨者黑(what's next to vermillion turns red, what's next to ink turns black)”,比喻接近优秀的人会使人变优秀,接近坏人会使人变坏。

3. 兔子不吃窝边草 vs. 近水楼台先得月

 

兔子不吃窝边草 (tùzǐ bù chī wō biān cǎo): "The hare does not eat the grass around his burrow". An idiom equivalent to "Don't shit where you eat".

“兔子不吃窝边草”英文意思为“The hare does not eat the grass around his burrow”,和英文中的“Don't shit where you eat”相当。

近水楼台先得月 (jìnshuǐlóutái xiān dé yuè): literally, "A water-front pavilion gets the moon first". A metaphor for how an advantageous location gives you the chance to get ahead.

“近水楼台先得月”英文字面意思为“A water-front pavilion gets the moon first”,比喻因位置优越而优先获得机会。

 

4. 好男儿宁死不屈 vs. 大丈夫能屈能伸

 

好男儿宁死不屈 (hǎo nán’ér nìngsǐbùqū): "A real man would rather die than cave in."

 

大丈夫能屈能伸 (dàzhàngfū néngqūnéngshēn): "A real man knows when to yield and when not."

 

5. 嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗 vs. 男怕选错行,女怕嫁错郎

 

嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗 (jià jī suí jī, jià gǒu suí gǒu): Literally "marry a chicken, follow the chicken; marry a dog, follow the dog". The idiom was originally 嫁乞随乞, 嫁叟随叟 (jià qǐ suí qǐ, jià sǒu suí sǒu). Because the pronunciations of 乞 and 叟 sound are similar to 鸡 and 狗, the idiom gradually changed over time. In traditional China, women were married off by their parents or matchmakers. Some would not see their future husband until the wedding. The idiom teaches that a woman should be with the man she marries for life, even if he turns out to be a beggar, weak old man or presumably a drug-crazed psychopath.

俗语“嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗” 英文字面意思为“marry a chicken, follow the chicken; marry a dog, marry a dog”,该俗语最初来源于“嫁乞随乞,嫁叟随叟”。由于“乞”、“叟”与“鸡”、“狗”的读音很相似,因此该俗语就逐渐演变为“嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗”。在古代中国,女性的丈夫都是由父母或媒人挑选的,有些甚至等到婚礼当天才见到自己的丈夫。该俗语就是教导女人,即使嫁的人是个乞丐、虚弱的老人或吸毒成性的人,她也应该永远与其厮守。

男怕选错行,女怕嫁错郎 (nán pà xuǎn cuò xíng, nǚ pà jià cuò láng): "The worst for a man is to get into the wrong business, the worst for a woman is to have married the wrong guy."

“男怕选错行,女怕嫁错郎”的英文意思为“The worst for a man is to get into the wrong business, the worst for a woman is to have married the wrong guy.”

 

6. 宁可玉碎不能瓦全 vs. 留得青山在,不怕没柴烧

 

宁可玉碎不能瓦全 (nìng kě yù suì,bù néng wǎ quán): Literally, "Would rather break like a jade, instead of self-preserving like a pottery". A metaphor for being willing to die in the name of justice instead of living in shame.

“宁可玉碎不能瓦全”字面英文意思为Would rather break like a jade, instead of self-preserving like a pottery,比喻宁愿为正义而死,而不愿屈辱地活着。

 

留得青山在,不怕没柴烧 (liú de qīngshān zài, bùpà méi chái shāo): Literally, "As long as there is the green mountain, one doesn't have to fear that there’s no wood to burn". Its equivalent in English would be "where there is life, there is hope".

“留得青山在,不怕没柴烧”字面英文意思为“As long as there is the green mountain, one doesn’t have to fear that there’s no wood to burn”,和英语中的“where there is life, there is hope”有异曲同工之妙。

 

7. 人不犯我,我不犯人 vs. 先下手为强,后下手遭殃

 

人不犯我,我不犯人 (rén bù fàn wǒ, wǒ bù fàn rén): "If people don't offend me, I don't offend others."

 

先下手为强,后下手遭殃 (xiān xiàshǒu wéi qiáng, hòu xiàshǒu zāoyāng): "Striking first will put you in a strong position, strike late and you are screwed."

 

8. 金钱不是万能的 vs. 有钱能使鬼推磨

 

金钱不是万能的 (jīnqián bùshì wànnéng de): "Money is not everything."

 

有钱能使鬼推磨 (yǒu qián néng shǐ guǐ tuīmò): Literally, "with money, you can get the devil to turn the millstone for you".

 

9. 得饶人处且饶人 vs. 有仇不报非君子

 

得饶人处且饶人 (dé ráo rén chù qiě ráo rén): "When you can forgive and forget, forgive."

 

有仇不报非君子 (yǒu chóu bù bào fēi jūnzǐ): "To not seek revenge is to not be a real man."

 

10. 邪不压正 vs. 道高一尺,魔高一丈

 

邪不压正 (xié bù yā zhèng): "Justice prevails over evil."

 

道高一尺,魔高一丈 (dào gāo yī chǐ, mó gāo yī zhàng): "If the justice is one chi tall, evilness will be one zhang tall" (10 times taller). Chi and zhang are both units of measurement. It originated from a teaching in Buddhism that warns practitioners to beware of temptations, in which the dao refers to the Buddhist way and its results. 

“道高一尺,魔高一丈”英文字面意思为“If the justice is one chi tall, evilness will be one zhang tall”,其中的“尺”和“丈”都是衡量单位。该句俗语原为佛教告诫信徒警惕外界诱惑。“道”是指禅道及其修行的结果。

 

Translated from: theworldofchinese

2016-06-21

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