Chinese Proverbs

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Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
A carriage that overturned ahead can be a lesson for those to follow.
(Chinese original: 前车之鉴; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qián-chē-zhī-jiàn.)
New
What happened has happened. What's needed to do is draw a lesson from it to avoid making the same mistake again in the future.
Asking yourself for help is better than asking others.
(Chinese original: 求人不如求己; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiú rén bù rú qiú jǐ.)
New
God helps those who help themselves.
A melon forced off its vine is not sweet.
(Chinese original: 强扭的瓜不甜; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiáng niǔ de guā bù tián.)
"You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink." For that matter, a forced marriage is not happy and examples can be listed endlessly.
A smile woth a thousand ounces of gold.
(Chinese original: 千金买笑; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiān-jīn-mǎi-xiào.)
You describe a smile that is hard to come by as "a smile purchased for a thousand ounces of gold." There is a tragic story behind this proverb (See the story in my book The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han Chinese)
An ant may well destroy an entire dam.
(Chinese original: 千里之堤溃于蚁穴; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiān lǐ zhī dī, kuì yú yǐxué.)
If a small problem is overlooked, it could develop into a big disaster as ant can multiply, making tunnels in the dam to allow water soak in and consequently bring it to a collapse.
A long march starts from the very first step.
(Chinese original: 千里之行始于足下; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià.)
Success does not come from nothing, instead it comes from concrete hard work.
A donkey has limited abilities.
(Chinese original: 黔驴技穷; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qián-lǘ-jì-qióng.)
(See the story in my book The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han Chinese)
Even the cleverest housewife cannot cook rice without rice.
(Chinese original: 巧妇难为无米之炊; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qiǎofù nán wéi wú mǐ zhī chuī.)
It may not be true to American housewives who seldom cook rice. But rice is staple food in South China where the proverb may have originated. Without the right material, no matter how good you are, you may not accomplish the task.
Once on a tiger's back, you'll find it hard to get off.
(Chinese original: 骑虎难下; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qí-hǔ-nán-xià.)
Once you take on a thorny task, you'll find it hard to get rid of it
Looking for a donkey on its very back.
(Chinese original: 骑驴找驴; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qí-lǘ-zhǎo-lǘ.)
Looking for something as if it were missing while it is just under one's nose.
Learn from other's strong points to offset one's shortcomings.
(Chinese original: 取长补短; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Qǔ-cháng-bǔ-duǎn.)
 
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Last updated: May 29, 2009