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Is “三脚猫” (sān jiǎo māo) a three-legged cat?

In a foreign language, there are lots of seemingly simple phrases that will surprise you for their actual meanings. The Chinese phrase "三脚猫" (sān jiǎo māo) is one of the examples. The word literally means "a three-legged cat", but it refers to "jack of all trades and master of none" in English. 

学外语时,很多看似简单的词组的真实含义可能让人大跌眼镜。中文里的"三脚猫"就是其中一个例子。"三脚猫"是指什么都懂一点儿,什么都不精通的人,相当于英文中的"jack of all trades and master of none"。

At first, the word referred to a three-legged cat which was mistaken by people for a flying bear. Later, the word indicated the cats which were skillful in hunting but had difficulty in walking. Gradually, the word is changed to mean being unprofessional in doing things.

 "三脚猫"最早指的是只有三只腿却被人当成飞熊的猫。后来指捕鼠技能很不错,却"走不成步"的猫。久而久之,"三脚猫"一词成了做事技艺不精的意思了。

Examples:

1. Nǐ zhèdiǎn sānjiǎomāo gōngfū xiǎng xiàhǔ shuí?

你这点三脚猫功夫想吓唬谁?

Your kung fu is so bad. Who do you think you can scare?

2. Bié kàn tā yí fù zhuānjiā de yàngzi, qíshí zhǐshì gè sānjiǎomāo bà le.

别看他一副专家的样子,其实只是个三脚猫罢了。

Don't be fooled by appearance. He is not an expert, but just a jack-of-all-trades.

The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 

本文由Chinlingo编译后发布,如需转载,请标明来源。

2016-11-28

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