Speak of the devil (and in he walks). This idiom means “talk about certain person and he appears”. A similar Spanish idiom is “”Hablando del Rey de Roma, por la ventana se asoma” (Speaking of the King of Rome, through the window he appears). In Chinese, it is 说曹操,曹操到 (“shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào”), which translates as “Speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives. Cáo Cāo is the a well known historical figure of ancient China during the Three Kingdom Period (220-265CE).
On 24th of March I posted an article written by a Bloomberg correspondent entitled “Google Faces No Hong Kong Censors After China Retreat” at my blog at Wordpress. It seems that Google has upheld its stance on internet freedom. The fact is that Google only passes the ball to China’s court. It is now the China authorities who are doing the censorship. It is confirmed that China has screened Google’s contents and blocked those topics which they do not like. The Chinese netizens (net users) still do not have access to such sensitive topics on Tiananmen Massacre, Tibet,, Dalai Lama, Falun Gong etc. I am a big Google fan and I am all for Google’s intent and purpose. However, I have reservation the way they handle the matter. What Google doing is akin to an ancient Chinese metaphor, 掩耳盗铃. More on this below.
掩耳盗铃 (yan er dao ling) literally means “covering one’s ears to steal a bell” in English or “Taperse los oídos al robar una campanilla” in Spanish. It actually means “deceiving oneself” or “engañarse a sí mismo“. It has similar meaning to “bury one’s head in the sand” or “esconder la cabeza debajo del ala“
The origin of the metaphor can be traced back to the ancient China’s Spring and Autumn Period (476BC to 770BC). History had it that a thief at the time tried to steal a big and heavy copper bell from a house. He could not move it so he had to break it into pieces. The thief found a big hammer and tried to do so. He realized that it would produce a very loud noise and would draw others’ attention. To avoid that he stuck some fabrics into his ears. He thought others, like him, could not hear it when he hit the bell with the hammer. Needless to say that was not the case and he got caught.
This Chinese metaphor 虎头蛇尾 (hŭ tóu shé wĕi) literally means "tiger head, snake tail". In Chinese tradition, tiger symbolizes, among other things, invincibility, might, power and snake sneakiness. Another explanation is that a tiger head is big and a snake tail is small and skinny. 虎头蛇尾 refers to events which start out big and end up small. Its has similar meaning to the English expressions:
Por la traducción al español de este proverbio, nos dice que es algo que empieza con un estallido, y termina en un leve sonido, o algo que al parecer empieza con mucha fuerza y termina mal, por eso lo de "Cabeza de tigre y cola de serpiente". Por tanto, podríamos relacionarlo con varios del refranero español, como por ejemplo:.
There was a frog that lived in a shallow well.
” Look how well off I am here ! ” he told a big turtle from the Eastern Ocean. ” I am master of the water and lord of this shallow well, What more can a fellow ask for? Why do I want to leave the well ? “
It was only until the turtle took the frog outside of the well (or told the frog what were outside) that the frog realized how big the world was.
It means a person who cannot see the world or things in big picture
This proverb was originated from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, which is a Chinese historical novel based upon events in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of China, starting in 169 and ending with the reunification of the land in 280.
It is acclaimed as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, with a grand total of 800,000 words, nearly a thousand characters, most of them historical, in 120 chapters.
The background of this proverb is rather complicated which involves one chapter of the novel. In a nutshell, the person at the centre stage was Liu Bei, a governor of one of the provinces of China at the late Eastern Han Dynasty. On the other side was Sun Quan, who had an uneasy alliance with Liu. Sun enticed Liu to marry his sister intending to kill Liu at his territory. However, that did not work. Liu married Sun’s sister and decided to flee without letting Sun know. Sun sent an army to chase the couples, who were saved by boats waiting for them at the shore. Just as the boats were sailing away, the general of the army overhead from the boat these words “賠了夫人又折兵” which literally means losing the wife (although it was Sun’s sister) and the army returned empty handed. However, it is commonly accepted as meaning “losing your wife and the army”
A double whammy. Making double losses in a deal or losing on both sides of it.
Tiger Woods’ alleged extra-marital affair is likely to cause him to lose his wife and on top of that millions of dollars of commercial endorsements.
The subject of this post is shown in the title. However, one should note that the literal translation of 望梅止渴 (wàngméizhǐkě) should be "The sight of plums quenches thirst". It is a direct Chinese metaphor which the author borrowed an object to convey a meaning as opposed to an insinuating metaphor whereby the author borrowed an indirect object to convey a message to the hearer without offending him.
During the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), a general, Cao Cao 曹操, was leading his troop of soldiers across a desert under the scorching sun. The soldiers. were moving very slowly. even though they were close to the destination, due to the running out of body water and strength. Cao Cao tried all means to 0rder the soldiers to expedite, but to avail. As a last resort Cao Cao claimed that there was a plum forest ahead of them and the sweet and sour plums would relieve their thirst. When the soldiers heard that, saliva came up to their mouths and their thirsts were said to have cured.
The are some scientific bases in this metaphor. It is likely that the presence of a pickled plum will bring saliva to one's month. As to whether it would quench a thirst that is besides the issue. However, this metaphor, if effectively used, is a good icebreaker line, and will help you make a lot of sales and friends.