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:

诸事如意.
Zhūshìrúyì.
Everything will be as you wish.

The greeting on the displayed card is:
诸事大吉
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:

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

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

Learn the Chinese word for pain

Migraine Cookbook
偏頭疼食譜

Voilà! I’ve just published the ebook titled “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way“. I wrote the manuscript quite a while ago and only in the past couple years had the time to take pictures for the featured recipes. During this time, many new studies and researches have been done on migraines, but a full understanding of this disorder still eludes us. In “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way” I summarize my experience and what I have learned about this disease. An important point is that certain groups of food trigger migraines, and eliminating those foods from your diet will help prevent the onset of a migraine attack. How to make tasty dishes without calling on bacon, sausages, milk and cheese? The answer can be found in the over one hundred recipes included in this ebook, which show you how to make dishes of food that you as well as the other members of your family can enjoy. You can find this book at amazon.com and  various other digital stores and read it on these devices: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Tolino. In case you do not have any of these devices, you could still read the ebook on your PC. If you would like to know how to make a delicious Egg Flower Soup, or 蛋花汤 (dànhuātāng), you are welcome to read my blog at https://tamemigraine.wordpress.com.

The migraine disorder exhibits itself in a variety of symptoms in various parts of the body. The most prominent symptom is a throbbing, pounding headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. This is why in Chinese it is called 偏头疼 (piān tóuténg).

(piān) means inclined or deviated to one side. Therefore, having a biased mind is called 偏心 (piānxīn). If the teacher favors a certain student, the other students are sure to sense it and complain amongst themselves:

老師偏心; 這不公平.
Lǎoshī piānxīn; zhè bùgōngping.
The teacher shows favoritism; it’s not fair.

The two most commonly used words for pain and aches in Chiese are (téng) and (tòng). Often these characters are combined into one word: 疼痛 (téngtòng pain, ache, soreness).

Pain can occur in different parts of your body. So, 牙痛 (yátòng) is a toothache. 头疼 (tóuténg) or 头痛 (tóutòng) is having a headache, and 脚痛 (jiǎo tòng) ) means the foot hurts. And 头痛医头, 脚痛医脚. (Tóutòngyītóujiǎotòngyījiǎo.) means to treat the symptoms but not the illness, i.e. not getting to the root cause of a problem.

Same as with English, 头疼 (tóuténg) and 头痛 (tóutòng) can also refer to a figurative headache.

這真是一件令人头痛的事.
Zhè zhēnshì yī jiàn lìngrén tóutòng de shì.
This is truly a bothersome matter.

If you have a health problem with your heart, and you feel pain in the chest, you would say, “我心脏痛. (Wǒ xīnzàng tòng.” or “我胸口疼. (Wǒ xiōngkǒu téng.)”

On the other hand, if you love a child dearly, if you feel discressed, or if you feel sorry for someone, you would use the word 心疼 (xīnténg). For example,

她最心疼她的大女儿.
Tā zuì xīnténg tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

Another way to say it is:

她最疼愛她的大女儿.
Tā zuì téng’ai tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

他的儿子不愿继承他的事业; 他万分心疼.
Tā de érzi bù yuàn jìchéng tā de shìyè; tā wànfēn xīnténg.
His son is unwilling to carry on his enterprise; he is extremely distressed.

In this sense, 心疼 (xīnténg) is equivalent to 痛苦 (tòngkǔ to feel pain or agony).

他忘掉了以往痛苦的日子.
Tā wàngdiào le yǐwǎng tòngkǔ de rìzi.
He forgot those painful days in the past.

他陷入无限的痛苦之中.
Tā xiànrù wúxiàn de tòngkǔ zhī zhòng.
He fell into a pit of infinite suffering.

悲痛 (bēitòng) means grief, grieved, sorrow or sorrowful.

忍痛 (rěntóng) means to endure pain. Figuratively it meas to do something very reluctantly.

The word (tòng) also serves as the abbreviation for 痛快 (tòngkuài), which means straightforward, to one’s heart’s content or to one’s great satisfaction. Therefore, 痛斥 (tòngchì) means to chide bitterly, and 痛哭 (tòngkū) is to wail or cry one’s heart out. In these cases, (tòng) is not directly associated with pain.

我們到了台北之後, 要痛快地吃一頓.
Wǒmén dàole Táiběi zhīhòu, yào tòngkuài de chī yī dùn.
When we get to Taipei, we are determined to have a hearty feast.

As for “pain” in the sense of “effort”, the Chinese word is 努力 (nǔlì), and not (tòng). This is how you would say “No pain, no gain” in Chinese:

一分耕耘一分收获.
Yī fēn gēngyún yī fēn shōuhuò.

耕耘 (gēngyún) is to cultivate the field by ploughing and weeding. 收获 (shōuhuò) is to gather in the crop. Therefore, one is expected to harvest or profit in proportion to the effort one has put in.

 

Chinese idioms involving the dog

Puppy Figurine

If you forgot to make a New Year’s resolution, now is your chance to make a Chinese New Year’s resolution. My resolution this year is to complete one of the books that have been sitting on my back burner for years. This one is a cookbook for people who are prone to the migraine disease. If you are a fellow migraineur, stay tuned. Hopefully the Year of the Dog will lend me the required energy to get this e-book out soon.

Speaking of dogs, the very first song my mother taught me when I was little had these lines:

一只哈巴狗
Yī zhī hǎbagǒu
A Pekingese dog

蹲在大门口
dūn zài dàmén kǒu
squats at the front entrance,

眼睛黑黝黝
yǎnjing hēiyōuyōu
with eyes shiny black,

想吃肉骨头
xiǎng chī ròu gútou
wanting to eat a meaty bone.

Dogs, or 狗 (gǒu), have been man’s best friend for about 3300 years. However, they have received mixed reviews in regards to their personality. Their unparalleled loyalty, or 忠诚度 (zhōngchéng dù), and capacity for love make them heart-winning house pets, or 宠物 (chǒngwù). On the other hand, when their mean streaks surface, they are cute no more, and in both English and Chinese the word “dog” also equates to “damned” or “cursed”. Therefore there are quite a few commonly used Chinese idioms that do not feature dogs in the best light.

In general, keeping a dog in a home is regarded as auspicious. When you learn of a friend’s adopting a pet dog, you could congratulate him or her by saying:

狗来福.
Gǒu lái fú.
Dog comes and brings good fortune.

Dogs have much keener sense of smell, sight and hearing than human beings. They can protect a family by barking or yapping at strangers. It is believed that they are able to tell the good guys from the bad as well as the rich and powerful from the poor and dejected. When someone puts you down, you are apt to think:

哼! 狗眼看人低!
Hng! Gǒuyǎnkànrén dī!
Humph! What a snob (like a dog)!

Sometimes the dog makes a mistake, as in the following story. 呂洞賓 (Lǚ Dòngbīn) was a scholar in the Tang Dynasty. He was well known for his studies in Taoism, medicine and various other subject matters as well as his kind heart. People ranked him among one of the eight great immortals of that time. It came to pass that one day Lǚ saw a starving dog. Out of sympathy, he gave the dog the dumpling that he was eating. The dog devoured the dumpling, but turned around and bit Lǚ. If someone ill rewards your kindness, you could tell others about it by using this saying:

狗咬呂洞賓, 不识好人心.
Ggǒuyǎolǚdòngbīn, bù shì hǎorén xīn.
Dog bites Lǚ Dòngbīn; can’t recognize a good heart when it sees one.

Often a dog will threaten people on the strength of its master’s power. 狗仗人勢 (Gǒuzhàngrénshì) means to bully someone under the protection of a powerful superior.

Now, if a dog bothers you, but it has a powerful master, or if the dog’s master is your friend, you would think twice before hitting the dog. The following idiom teaches you to look at the bigger picture instead of reacting hastily in some situations.

打狗看主人.
Dǎ gǒu kàn zhǔrén.
Mind whose dog it is before you strike.

Like a cornered dog, a person who has run out of resources might do something desperate. 狗急跳牆 (gǒujítiàoqiáng) means that, in a dire situation, a dog could jump over a wall.

Literally 打落水狗 (dǎluòshuǐgǒu) is to beat a drowning dog. Figuratively it means to deal a blow to a person who has lost power or favor, or to completely crush a defeated enemy.

If you made an inexcusable blunder at your job, your boss might level a stream of abusive language at you. This is likened to a jet of dog blood sprayed onto your head, as in:

老板把我骂了个狗血噴頭.
Lǎobǎn bǎ wǒ mà le gè gǒuxuěpēntóu.
The boss gave me a piece of his mind.

People who love to advise others but only have inept or even bad advice to offer are referred to as 狗頭軍師 (gǒutóujūnshī). 军师 (jūnshī) is a military counsellor.

The following expressions involve the dog plus another animal.

狗咬耗子 (gǒu yǎo hàozi) translates to: “Dog bites rat.” It refers to people meddling in other people’s affairs, which are none of their business.

If someone, for whom you have little regard, utters crude language, offers useless advice, or writes a mediocre article, you might make this disparaging remark to a third party:

狗嘴里长不出象牙.
Gǒu zuǐ li zhǎng bù chū xiàngyá.
A dog’s mouth can’t grow ivory.
(What can a dog do but bark?)

挂羊头卖狗肉 (guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu) means to display a goat’s head but sell dog meat, in other words, to bait and switch.

狐群狗党 (húqúngǒudǎng) refers to a gang of scoundrels (compared to foxes and wild dogs). 群 (qún) is a group of people, a crowd or a heard of animals. 党 (dǎng) usually refers to a political party.

You might describe a cold-blooded or unscrupulous person as having a wolf’s heart and a dog’s lungs, as in 狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi).

偷鸡摸狗 (tōu jī mō gǒu) means to engage in petty dishonest activities, such as stealing or having extra-marital affairs. 偷 (tōu) is to steal, pilfer or to be on the sly. 摸 (mō) is to feel or touch.

In traditional Chinese families, people are of the opinion that a daughter who has been married off must stick with her husband regardless of what kind of person he is. Remember that in earlier times, marriages were arranged by the parents, and Chinese women did not have a choice of whom they married.

嫁雞隨雞,嫁狗隨狗.
Jià jī suí jī, jià gǒu suí gǒu.
If you married a chicken, follow the chicken,
and if you married a dog, follow the dog.

It is interesting to note that the original saying goes like this:

嫁乞随乞,嫁叟随叟.
Jià qǐ suí qǐ, jià sǒu suí sǒu.
If you married a beggar, follow the beggar,
and if you married an old man, follow the old man.

No matter which way the saying is phrased, it teaches the women to 认命 (rènmìng), i.e. to accept their fate and try to work out the differences to keep the marriage in harmony. I think that goes for men as well.

Yeah, check out Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes
to learn additional Chinese expressions, idioms and sayings.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrén Jié kuàilè!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

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