Chinese Proverbs

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Annotation And Connotations
With the liver and bowel broken into inches.
(Chinese original: 肝肠寸断; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gān-cháng-cùn-duàn.)
Another way of saying "heart-broken"
When the head rope of a net is pulled up, all the meshes open.
(Chinese original: 纲举目张; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gāng-jǔ-mù-zhāng.)
When a key problem is solved, the rest of the issues relating to it will also be unknotted.
You can't expect both ends of a sugar cane are as sweet.
(Chinese original: 甘蔗没有两头甜; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gānzhe méiyǒu liǎng tóu tián.)
You can't have both: In order to get something, you have to sacrifice something else.
Pouring water from above the roof of a tall building.
(Chinese original: 高屋建瓴; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gāo-wū-jiàn-líng.)
If someone can pour water from the top of a roof, he is in an extremely advantageous position.
Watch the fire burn on the other side of the river.
(Chinese original: 隔岸观火; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gé-àn-guān-huǒ.)
Gloating over others' mishap instead of coming to their rescue.
Flowers look different in different eyes.
(Chinese original: 各花入各眼; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gè huā rù gè yǎn.)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There are always ears on the other side of the wall.
(Chinese original: 隔墙有耳; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gé-qiáng-yǒu-ěr.)
Walls have ears .
Scratching an itch from outside the boot.
(Chinese original: 隔靴搔痒;Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gé-xuē-sāo-yǎng.)
To scratch one's itch with boots on is to attempt a very ineffective solution to a problem.
A weir close to completion left undone due to the shortage of a basket of earth.
(Chinese original: 功亏一篑; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gōng-kuī-yī-kuì.)
A regrettable failure of something nearing accomplishment due to lack of perseverance.
A dog won't forsake his master because of his poverty; a son never deserts his mother for her homely appearance
(Chinese original: 狗不嫌家贫,儿不嫌母丑; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gǒu bū xián jiā pín, ér bū xián mǔ chǒu.)
Don't despise something or someone that is close to you.
A dog will jump over a wall when cornered.
(Chinese original: 狗急跳墙; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gǒu jí tiào qiáng.)
When cornered, one can do something desperate. This proverb is used in a derogatary manner.
A fierce dog ruins a liquor store business.
(Chinese original: 狗猛酒酸; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gǒu-měng-jiǔ-suān.)
A once successful liquor store suddenly sees its business faltering: customers stop coming. Finally the owner realizes that it was his fierce dog that has scared them away. A bad company may drive other friends away. Another dog-related proverb that does injustice to the animal.
A mouse-catching dog steps on the cats' paws (toes).
(Chinese original: 狗拿耗子—多管闲事 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gǒu ná hàozi—duō guǎn xiánshì.)
Despite the fact that dogs do catch mice, people still believe that is the business of cats'. Therefore, this proverb refers to someone who is too inquisitive and cares about things that are none of his business.
How can you expect to find ivory in a dog's mouth?
(Chinese original: 狗嘴里吐不出象牙; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gǒu zuǐlǐ tǔ bù chū xiàngyá.)
True, that is an impossibility. The connotation is you can not expect people of evil intent to utter anything good. By the way, in the Chinese culture, dogs are almost always negative in allusions.
Dismantle the bridge after crossing it.
(Chinese original: 过河拆桥; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Guò-hé-chāi-qiáo.)
Isn't that ungrateful and mean? There are people who after taking advantage of you turn their back to you.
Look at a leopard through a pipe.
(Chinese original: 管中窥豹; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Guǎn-zhōng-kuì-bào.)
You can add to the rest through your imagination. This proverb means that one can tell the entirety by looking at part of it. Note, it has a commendatory rather than a derogatory connotation.
One palm makes no applause.
(Chinese original: Chinese Pinyin: 孤掌难鸣; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Gū-zhǎng-nán-míng.)
This is an admonishment against both parties in a dispute: the dispute would be impossible without either party.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014