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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chinese Idiom of the Day I

Other editions of Chinese Idiom of the Day:
Chinese Idiom of the Day II
Chinese Idiom of the Day III
Chinese Idiom of the Day IV
Chinese Idiom of the Day V

If you are using your new TWoNN calendars, you will see that Chinese New Year is this Thursday, February 7. In honor of the occasion, I will be posting a new Chinese idiom every day in the scrolling marquee at the top of the blog until my brain runs out of them (currently, I have 11 lined up). I've done the first one (畫蛇添足) and provided the literal translation (Draw snake, add legs.). I have also provided the meaning (You are being unnecessarily extravagant and spoiling the whole thing in the process.).

Starting tomorrow, I will update this blog entry every day to give you a new idiom and its literal translation. But you have to guess its meaning! (Good luck to the non-Cantonese speakers out there, mwahahahahahahahaa!!!)

P.S. There will be a "click me" link in the marquee that will bring you to this blog entry.

Feb. 6: 狗口長不出象牙 (A dog's mouth cannot grow ivory.)
Meaning: Don't expect that dirty dog to say anything nice. (credit: Cl. Panic)

Feb. 7: 斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)
Meaning: Use of unnecessarily drastic measures (usually ones that hurt yourself) to fix a small problem.

Feb. 8: 食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?)
Meaning: You make a better door than a window. (credit: Man from U.N.C.L.E.)

34 comments:

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

I like that you are adding this Nu feature, NN. I think it will become a favorite of mine. A great way to challenge your readers and share some of the historical/cultural characteristics that make you uniquely you.

Did you steal this idea from Shakespeare Teacher?

Nonny Nu said...

Did you steal this idea from Shakespeare Teacher?
No, this was actually something that Stillman and Mr. Nonny Nu separately but jointly suggested. They both said that I should change my marquee more often. Stillman said maybe "quote of the day" would be good. I looked around for quotes, but didn't want to be all "deep" and stuff. But, I remember that I always tell Mr. Nonny Nu the transliterated Chinese sayings and he always looks at me as though I just spoke Danish to him, so I thought it would be fun!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

I would assume that Mr. Nonny Nu speaks Bear Claw and not Danish then?

Mr. Nonny Nu said...

hehe

~ ~ ~

Nonny Nu said...

Mr. Nonny Nu says: "hehe"
Nonny Nu hears: "grrrrrr..."

MonkeyPig said...

That's a great idiom.
It sort of offends the dog lover. When Baysee saw it, he was really hurt. He doesn't want ivory growing out of his mouth and I don't want an elephant sleeping with me...they stink!!!

Cl. Panic said...

I'm guessing that my perception of the "affection" reserved for dogs in Chinese culture suggests that the dog is to be seen negatively. Ivory, however, is more revered.

So Cl. Panic is going out on a limb with, don't expect that dirty old dog to say anything nice.

Nonny Nu said...

You know, a lot of the times, dogs are looked upon negatively in Chinese idioms. I can see why Baysee would be offended. I haven't slept with an elephant, but I did sleep with Baysee and MonkeyPig the last time I visited. Baysee is pretty cute. He likes to sleep right next to you and even puts a paw across your body like he is protecting you. Very cute. Except for when he steals all the covers.

Cl. Panic, you are right!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)"


I'll take a stab with a hatchet -

Sometimes it's better to sacrifice a little before you lose a lot.

Nonny Nu said...

Man from U.N.C.L.E., try again!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)"



My second try -
"Did you just speak Danish?"

Nonny Nu said...

Re: your second try
You are getting closer.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)"

Try Number Three-
"Athlete's foot sucks, but it's better than knee surgery, right Stillman?"

Nonny Nu said...

Colder. Here's a hint:

Isn't cutting off one's toes a bit drastic?

Cl. Panic said...

Oooh, I saw that on the sign to a restaurant... I think it means No Shoes, No Service.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)"

Try Four:

"Walk softly and carry a bloody stump"

Nonny Nu said...

"Stump" is somewhat appropriate here. Okay, I am going to 開古(open riddle) now. After that offensive dog idiom, I chose this idiom about sand worms because I know there aren't a lot of people out there who keep them as pets. Apparently, there also aren't a lot of people out there who even know about sand worms at all.

Cl. Panic said...

Feb. 8: 食玻璃大?

I think that NN ate glass growing up because she can eat anything!

Cl. Panic said...

Oh, and what the hell is a sand worm anyway? I assumed it looked something like this.

Nonny Nu said...

I thought you were going to say that you thought they were the sand worms from Dune. Look, I didn't know what a Chinese sand worm was, but I understood that it's not that big of a threat. Anyhow, I did some digging (i.e., googled "chinese sand worm"), and the first lead I found was on point. It's about a gweilo eating sand worms in China. Here's the menu and here's the deep fried sand worm. See? Not much of a threat.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"斬腳趾避沙蟲 (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)"
Given your hints.
Try five -
"Ain't no thing, but a chicken wing"

Nonny Nu said...

Dude, I opened the riddle an hour ago.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

Since I've been so successfulwith this little game I will continue to humiliate myself with guesses.

For this Idiom: 食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?)

Guess 1: "The prevention method for irritable bowel syndrome."

Nonny Nu said...

食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?)
Okay, here's a hint: You are what you eat.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

QUOTE: Nonny Nu said...
Dude, I opened the riddle an hour ago.

February 8, 2008 11:33 AM


Dude, It's still a riddle to me, cuz your little opening means nothing to me. Talk to me like I'm a four month old because I'm gonna need some spoon feeding.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?)
Okay, here's a hint: You are what you eat."



"People that eat glass houses don't get stoned."

Nonny Nu said...

Talk to me like I'm a four month old because I'm gonna need some spoon feeding.
Okay, here goes.

What is a sand worm? A sand worm is a very small creature that lives in the sand. It is so innocuous that it is easily harvested from the sand, dipped in batter, and fried for human consumption. These things have no teeth and are not harmful to humans. So, if you are standing in the sand barefoot, and a sand worm comes up to you, don't shop off your toes to avoid it. It's only a helpless and non-harmful sort, so chopping off your toes would be too drastic a measure in the face of such an innocuous non-threat. Moreover, if you were to chop off your toes, you'd have even bigger problems than the sand worm (which wasn't really even that big of a problem in the first place).

"People that eat glass houses don't get stoned."
Here's another hint: What can you do to glass?

Mr. Nonny Nu said...

"People that eat glass houses don't get stoned."

give that man a ceegar!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

QUOTE: What is a sand worm? A sand worm is a very small creature that lives in the sand. It is so innocuous that it is easily harvested from the sand, dipped in batter, and fried for human consumption. These things have no teeth and are not harmful to humans. So, if you are standing in the sand barefoot, and a sand worm comes up to you, don't shop off your toes to avoid it. It's only a helpless and non-harmful sort, so chopping off your toes would be too drastic a measure in the face of such an innocuous non-threat. Moreover, if you were to chop off your toes, you'd have even bigger problems than the sand worm (which wasn't really even that big of a problem in the first place).



So shouldn't the Chinese Idiom "斬腳趾避沙蟲" be "DON'T (Chop off your toes to avoid the sand worms.)" Your translation left off the word don't and I have been humiliated because of it! :(

*Cries like a four month old*

Mr. Nonny Nu said...

there, there, m.f.uncle. pointing out nonny nu's mistakes is no way to gain her admission. it'll just add fuel to the light that *just will not* go out.

~ ~ ~

i didn't just write that did i?

Nonny Nu said...

I was gone from my desk for 90 minutes and have learned a valuable lesson--never leave Mr. Nonny Nu and Man from U.N.C.L.E. together and unattended. I hereby create a new Chinese idiom (I can do that because I'm Chinese): 斬丈夫避叔叔 (Chop the husband to avoid the uncle). There's no "Don't" at the beginning of that idiom.

As to Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s question about the "don't" at the beginning of the 2/7 idiom, it's not there because the idiom is understood to be something you shouldn't do. For example, the English (?) saying, "Cut off your nose to spite your face" doesn't start with "don't," even though the idea is not to cut off your nose to spite your face.

Here's another hint for today's idiom (食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?))...
Usage: Nonny Nu is watching TV. Mr. Nonny Nu steps in front of the TV, thus blocking Nonny Nu's view. Nonny Nu says, "食玻璃大?"

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

"食玻璃大? (Did you eat glass growing up?}"


How about, "You make a better door than a window."

Nonny Nu said...

"You make a better door than a window."
VERY GOOD!!! You got it, Man from U.N.C.L.E.!!

Nonny Nu said...

Continue guessing Chinese Idiom of the Day here.