Chinese idioms involving the hog

Year of the Hog

Year of the Hog

Soon we will be welcoming the Year of the Hog, or 猪年 (zhū nián). As sounds the same as , a popular greeting for this particular year is:

Everything will be as you wish.

The greeting on the displayed card is:
Zhūshì dàjí
Everything will be very auspicious.

A sow is called 母猪 (mǔzhū), and a hog is called 公猪 (gōngzhū). If you know that 公主 (gōngzhǔ) is a princess, you will definitely understand why it is important to speak Chinese using the correct intonation. The wild boar is called 野豬 (yězhū).

In the popular children’s story “Three Little Pigs”, or 三只小猪 (Sān zhī xiǎo zhū), two of the pigs are dumb and lazy, while the youngest one is intelligent and hardworking. In the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, or 西游记 (Xīyóujì), the monk’s second disciple 猪八戒 (Zhū Bājiè) is also depicted with faults and strengths, albeit more of the former traits than the latter. In Episode 23 of the Journey to the West by Little Fox, you can see how 猪八戒 (Zhū Bājiè) was fooled into carrying all the luggage for the journeying party, how he shirked the work and wanted to eat all the time.

Generally speaking, most Chinese consider pigs 肮脏 (āngzāng filthy), 愚蠢 (yúchǔn stupid), 贪吃 (tān chī gluttonous) and 鲁莽 (lǔmǎng crude and rash). This is clearly reflected in many idioms involving the pig.

猪朋狗友 zhū péng gǒ yǒ
Fair-weather friends

猪羊变色 zhū yáng biànsè
The pigs and the sheep have discolored.
(The situation has changed completely.)

猪狗不如 zhū gǒ bùrú
Worse than pigs and dogs.

豕突狼奔 shǐ tū láng bēn
Pigs dash forward and wolves flee.
(A scene of hasty retreat of defeated troops.)

 (shǐ) is the formal word for pigs.

一龙一猪 yī lóng yī zhū
One is a dragon, and the other is a pig.
(One is able and virtuous; the other, unworthy.)

泥猪瓦狗 ní zhū wǎ gǒ
Pigs fashioned from mud, dogs made from clay.
(useless things)

指猪骂狗 zhǐ zhū mà gǒ
Point the finger at the pig to chastise the dog.
(Indirectly chide or criticize someone.)

猪头猪脑 zhū tóu zhū nǎo
Having a pig’s head and brains.
(dumb as a pig)

冷水烫猪 lěngshuǐ tàng zhū
Using cold water to scald a pig.
(ineffective; a waste of effort)

人怕出名, 猪怕肥.
Rén pà chūmíng, zhū pà féi.
People shun fame for fear it might bring trouble just like a pig’s fattening calls for slaughter. (Think “Charlotte’s Web”.)

Perhaps this is what Master Confucius had in mind when he made the following remark about true gentlemen:

Rrén bùzhī ér bù yùn.
Even if no one takes note of them, they don’t mind.

Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

What’s your IQ?

April Fools’ Day is called 愚人节 (yúrén jié). (jié) stands for a holiday or a festival. 愚人 (yúrén) is the abbreviation of 愚笨的人 (yúbèn de rén), which means a foolish person, or a fool.

愚蠢 (yúchǔn), 愚笨 (yúbèn) and (bèn) all mean stupid or foolish.
(dāi) means dim-witted or wooden-headed.
(shǎ) means stupid or muddle-headed.

Therefore, there are a few additional ways of saying “a fool”.

傻子 (shǎzi) A foolish person.
呆子 (dāizi) A dim-witted person.
傻瓜 (shǎguā) A foolish melon.
笨瓜 (bènguā) A stupid melon.
呆瓜 (dāiguā) A dim-witted melon (a wooden head).
笨蛋 (bèndàn) A stupid egg.

You can tell from the above examples that the Chinese don’t hold melons and eggs in high esteem. While a parent may say “小傻瓜 (xiǎo shǎguā little fool)”, to his or her own child in an endearing way, please don’t call anyone a melon or, worse, an egg.

Of course, all of us want to be regarded as being intelligent and smart.

聪明 (cōngmíng) means intelligent or sharp.
伶俐 (línglì) means clever or quick-witted
头脑好 (tóunǎo hǎo) means to have (good) brains.
脑筋好 (nǎojīn hǎo) means to have a good mind.
有智慧 (yǒu zhìhuì) means to possess wisdom.

Correspondingly, you may refer to a bright person as follows:

聪明的人 (cōngmíng de rén) An intelligent person.
伶俐的人 (línglì de rén) A clever or quick-witted person.
头脑好的人 (tóunǎo hǎo de rén) A smart person.
脑筋好的人 (nǎojīn hǎo de rén) An intelligent person.
有智慧的人 (yǒu zhìhuì de rén) A wise person.
智者 (zhì zhě) A sage. The word is a formal word used to refer to a person.

The Chinese word for IQ, the Intelligence Quotient, is 智商 (zhìshāng). I believe that, whatever IQ you start with, the process of learning a new skill, such as a foreign language, will add a few points to your malleable intelligence and education quotient.

Now let’s fit some of the above words into a couple simple sentence patterns.

I. Someone or something + a description

Tā cōngmíng.
He is intelligent.
Wǒ de xiǎohái nǎojīn hǎo.
My child is bright.

II. Someone or something + be + optional description + someone or something

Shéi shì nĭ de xīn shàng rén?
Who’s your sweetheart?

Tā shì yī gè fùqin.
He is a father.
Tā shì yī gè yǒu zhìhuì de rén.
He is a wise person

Nĭ shì yī gè cōngmíng de rén.
You are a smart person.

Pòhuài huánjìng shì yúchǔn de xíngwéi.
Damaging the environment is a foolish action.

破坏 Pòhuàimeans to damage or to destroy.
环境 (huánjìng) is the environment.
行为 (xíngwéi) means action or behavior.

Often, 一个 (yī gè) is shorted to (gè), as in:
Nĭ shì gè cōngmíng de rén.
You are a smart person.

As an exercise, please make a sentence that says, “He is happy.” Also make a sentence that says, “My wife is a quick-witted woman.”

While it’s not so easy to write or input the Chinese words, you could make sentences by looking for the needed Chinese characters in my current and previous posts then copying and pasting them into Windows Notepad. Use the Save As function to save the text file in the UTF-8 format so the Chinese characters will display properly when you open the file later.

By the way, if you’re inclined to play an April Fools’ joke on someone, be sure to say this afterwards:
Wǒ zhǐshì kāi ge wánxiào de.
I’m only joking.

Hopefully, you will get this gracious response:
No problem. (That’s all right.)

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