San Guo related "Cheng Yu" (Sayings)

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San Guo related "Cheng Yu" (Sayings)

Unread postby Shi Tong » Thu May 25, 2006 1:53 pm

I'm quite a big fan of Chinese sayings or "Cheng2 Yu3", I do read some Chinese and can write a little, but it would be useful for the Cheng Yu to be written out in Chinese, Ping Yin and with an explaination.

The only San Guo related Cheng Yu that I know is:

"San1 Ge' Cho4 Pi2 Jiang4 Shang4 Guo4 Yi2 Ge' Zhu1 ge2 Liang4"

Meaning that "Three smelly leather workers have beaten Zhuge Liang before".

I think it's supposed to mean that Zhuge Liang isn't infalliable, he's been beaten before- though I would like to know who these smelly leather workers are.

If anyone want to share or help to write the Chinese for the one I know I'd be greatful, I always like Cheng Yu!
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Thu May 25, 2006 6:38 pm

三個臭皮匠勝過一個諸葛亮 - Three smelly tanners will beat one Zhuge Liang (Three average people, working together, can defeat a more capable one)

說曹操曹操就到 - Speak of Cao Cao, Cao Cao arrives ("Speak of the devil")

妻子如衣服, 兄弟如手足 - Wives are as clothes, brothers are as limbs (pretty much what it says)
"There are those who try to shape the world to their own whim,
and then there are those who allow the world to shape them.
It is in the balance that greatness is achieved."
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Unread postby James » Thu May 25, 2006 9:46 pm

Sun Gongli wrote:說曹操曹操就到 - Speak of Cao Cao, Cao Cao arrives ("Speak of the devil")

A modern variation of this one, in English, is spoken “Cao Cao is at the gates!”
I read about from several different locations. One of my favorites.
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Unread postby Jordan » Thu May 25, 2006 11:28 pm

Wow. I didn't know that Cao Cao was equated to the devil. A shame in my opinion. I thought that phrase to mean that Cao Cao just was really good at mobilizing armies and had especially swift cavalry. :(
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Unread postby Wo Long » Fri May 26, 2006 12:02 am

SlickSlicer wrote:Wow. I didn't know that Cao Cao was equated to the devil. A shame in my opinion. I thought that phrase to mean that Cao Cao just was really good at mobilizing armies and had especially swift cavalry. :(


No, they aren't comparing him to the devil. The saying "Speak of the devil!" is a saying that is said when someone you were talking about suddenly appears. So if you're talking about your friend Jim and Jim walks up, you say "Speak of the devil!". However, you aren't calling him the devil. :wink:

So, the Chinese idiom is not referring to the devil or comparing Cao Cao to the devil, it's just saying Cao Cao rather than devil. I'm sure you could research the two phrases and find the reasoning behind the choice of character used in each, but I'm pretty sure they aren't negative. Atleast not the Chinese phrase.
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Fri May 26, 2006 8:03 am

Yeah. It was based on the fact that Cao Cao was impossible to scheme against once you were in his domain.

I have my own Sanguo saying, too. 說劉備,劉備就哀號!
"There are those who try to shape the world to their own whim,
and then there are those who allow the world to shape them.
It is in the balance that greatness is achieved."
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri May 26, 2006 4:44 pm

I think these don't strictly count as Cheng2 Yu3 (成語, or "set phrases"), but are rather idioms or folk sayings (諺語).

The only real chengyu I could think of is 偃旗息鼓 (lower the banners and cease the drums), now meaning "be wery wery quiet", originally from Zhao Yun's story of standing alone outside the fort and freaking out the Wei guys.

As for folk sayings:

劉備借荊州,一去不復還 (Liu Bei borrowing Jingzhou---once gone, never back): often used to describe things that people "borrow" but are never returned. Once in primary school someone used that to describe a fellow student who went to the bathroom and was not seen again that day.

賠了夫人又折兵 (Lost the lady and lose the troops): originally referring to ZHou Yu's "scheme", it now is used to mean both losing capital without any good coming out of it.

劉備摔阿斗——收買人心 (Liu Bei throwing A-dou to the ground---buying people's hearts): often used these days to refer to politicians who seem to be sacrificing something big in order to buy votes.

Edit: Thought of more now.

Chengyus:

望梅止渴 (the prospect of plums stops the thirst)--from Cao Cao's famous story about telling his troops about a forest of sour plums and thus alleviating their thirst: meaning to console oneself by imagination.

如魚得水 (like a fish finding water)--from Liu Bei's explanation of why he valued Zhuge Liang so much, when Guan Yu and Zhang Fei snickered. It now means "finding a place where one is in his own element."

三顧茅廬 (thrice visiting the straw hut)---meaning "being very sincere in hiring someone"

樂不思蜀 (be so happy as to forget about the state of Shu)---from Liu Shan's words in Jin, when asked if he still thought about Shu. Now it means either one is so happy that he forgets about his past, or that he forgets about his obligations/home/etc.

煮豆燃萁 (cooking peas by burning peastalks)---from Cao Zhi's 7-step poem, this is used to imply internal strife or fraticide.

車載斗量 (cartloads and bushelfuls)---from Zhao Zi's description to Cao Pi of the amount of talented people in Wu. Now it just means "a lot of".

倒屣相迎 (wearing shoes backwards to welcome a guest)---one time, when Wang Can, still a kid, visited Cao Yong's house, Cao Yong was so eager to meet him that he didn't bother to put his shoes on properly.

勢如破竹 (like splitting a bamboo)---Du Yu used this phrase to describe how they would invade Wu :rangry: . Now it just means "unstoppable sequence of sucesses".

膽大如斗 (gall bladder as big as a dou)---a dou is a unit of measurement (sometimes translated as a "peck", which = 8 quarts; in both CHBT and MR's translations the comparison was to a "chicken egg"). This refers to Jiang Wei's post-mortem (ch. 119). Now the phrase 斗膽 is commonly used to mean "brazen, audacious".

箭在弦上,不得不發 (an arrow on the bowstring has no choice but go)---this phrase was used by Chen Lin when Cao Cao asked him how he dared to insult his ancestors. This now means that one is forced by circumstances to go ahead with something they don't want to do.

Sayings (諺語):

萬事俱備,只欠東風 (everything is ready; only the East Wind is missing)---refrering to the event at Chibi, this is now used to mean "only a crucial opportunity or circumstance is missing to make everything go right."

對酒當歌,人生幾何 (how often in life can one sing to his wine?)---a line in Cao Cao's poem (in the novel, he composed it right before Chibi) that is often used in daily speech to express the shortness of life and a kind of a carpe diem attitude.
"Whatever you do, don't fall off the bridge! It'll be a pain to try to get back up again." - Private, DW 8
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Unread postby Starscream » Sat May 27, 2006 2:22 pm

I'll add 2 more:

司马昭之心,路人皆知: literally means, "even the common people know what Sima Zhao had in mind", which means, Sima Zhao was so blatantly evil that even an idiot knows that.

一身是胆: very very very courageous. The gall bladder is a symbol of courage. So if you have a body containing nothing but gall bladder (literally speaking), you no doubt are a courageous individual. Was used by Liu Bei to praise Zhao Yun in the empty camp ruse at the battle of Hanzhong.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Sat May 27, 2006 3:44 pm

We just have to hope that our sweetheart 小趙趙 "Yunny" doesn't get gallstones. :lol:
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Unread postby Shi Tong » Sun May 28, 2006 10:49 pm

These are great! It's good to see how many Cheng Yu and sayings come out of 3k, I'm always asking my Taiwanese friends them, you've reminded me of a few, but the new ones are too many to count!

I know:
萬事俱備,只欠東風

說曹操曹操就到

and of course:
三個臭皮匠勝過一個諸葛亮,

Thanks for writing that for me!

Can I ask you guys how you'd pronounce these sayings in Chinese? You can use ZhuYin or Ping Yin, I'd just like to know, I have 2 reasons for asking you to do this:
1) my Chinese reading isn't that good (I can read about half the words!)
2) my wife cant be bothered to tell me how to say them (she's lazy!)

I think I read another 3k Chen Yu in "Best Chinese Idioms", but I'd have to search for it (which I will), I'll see if it's something which hasn't been mentioned yet.

Thanks for all the great input! :D
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