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Oriental Wisdom

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1. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

A man standing straight doesn’t worry about his shadow slanting. (an upright man fear no gossip) 身正不怕影子歪

The fingers are unequal in length. (you can’t expect everything to be the same) 十个手指不一样长

The times produce their heroes. 时势造英雄

A gentleman acts on behalf of an understanding friend, a woman makes herself beautiful for her lover. 时为知己者用,女为悦己者容

Monkey king who cannot jump out of Buddha’ palm. (be unable to get out of one’s control) 孙悟空逃不出如来佛的手掌

The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind. (covet gains ahead, unaware of danger behind) 螳螂捕蝉,黄雀在后

If heaven has feelings,heaven too will become aged. 天若有情天亦老

All the crows under the sun are black. (evil people are bad all over the world) 天下乌鸦一般黑

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

It's interesting how each language has its own unique expressions. They're somtimes completely untranslatable - else their full meaning gets watered down in the process. I've often wondered if people who speak/understand one language miss the nuances that are possible in another. There are expressions and even words that have no equivalent meaning when translated - no matter how many ways you try to explain it.

That's one of the things that's so interesting about living in Montreal, if I can "snap my suspenders" (a Quebecois expression meaning to brag) about my city. People here speak at least two languages - if not three and four. So conversations in one language are usually riddled with words from another - just because the "foreign" expression is much more apt. It confuses the heck out of tourists! ;)

3. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

I agree Tina...I know many English expressions that I just cant translate into spanish and the other way around. It is very frustating when you are trying to have a conversation and you are trying to get your point across. I either know it one way or the other and then I get off the topic cause it takes me 3 hours to explain what I am trying to say in the first place.

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5. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Quoting tway

It's interesting how each language has its own unique expressions. They're somtimes completely untranslatable - else their full meaning gets watered down in the process. I've often wondered if people who speak/understand one language miss the nuances that are possible in another. There are expressions and even words that have no equivalent meaning when translated - no matter how many ways you try to explain it.

That's one of the things that's so interesting about living in Montreal, if I can "snap my suspenders" (a Quebecois expression meaning to brag) about my city. People here speak at least two languages - if not three and four. So conversations in one language are usually riddled with words from another - just because the "foreign" expression is much more apt. It confuses the heck out of tourists! ;)

Interesting comments from both tway & areinstein ...

I have been teaching journalism this year to Chinese university students (English majors). This includes the analysis of western newspapers. This week, we are preparing for final exams.I have been explaining to students, the problems associated with transliterations from one language to another. Particularly, completely unrelated languages.

Chinese is a larger language than English. However when I studied Thai(a very small language) and taught in Bangkok, there were even more errors made by those using a language rather than their own.

Similar situations occur with native-English speakers from different parts of the world. There are idioms and other phrases used, that others have no hope of understanding. Whilst abroad, I have often heard Americans comment that they can not understand what the British or Australians (& NZ) are saying. The everyday expressions take on a familiar meaning in their native, cultural setting but are out of place elsewhere.

Tway's "snap your suspenders" is an expression that I have never heard of. I understand completely where areinstein is coming from because she knows several languages. I have had friends that can speak about 7 languages, and that can become quite confusing because there are similar sounding words in different languages. However, their meanings are not the same. Once local phrases and cliches come into play, then cross-cultural communication problems naturally arise.

In China, I am often distinguishing between British-English and American-English for students. I contribute to several websites with members from vastly different ethnic, social,cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Sure there are differences, but group dynamics also mean something. Perhap, someone else may care to comment ...

6. Posted by FionaNZ (Respected Member 903 posts) 11y

Quoting Wocca


Similar situations occur with native-English speakers from different parts of the world. There are idioms and other phrases used, that others have no hope of understanding. Whilst abroad, I have often heard Americans comment that they can not understand what the British or Australians (& NZ) are saying. The everyday expressions take on a familiar meaning in their native, cultural setting but are out of place elsewhere.

Even between Oz & NZ too Wocca..

Like the word Durex - in Oz it is sellotape, in NZ its a condom

7. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

In Oz, we call a pencil eraser a "rubber". Brits find this word incredibly amusing

8. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

The words "lolly" and "candy" are also good examples

9. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 11y

Probably only slightly relevant - but in a karaoke bar the night before last they had The Beatles classic "A Turtle Hepl from.."

Has anybody heard this one before, or is this exclusive to Vietnam

10. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Sounds like Chinglish to me, Dave.

You should read some of the subtitles here on Chinese movies