Birds of a Feather

by Ben Schutz 11. March 2011 08:37

Birds of a feather flock together is a popular English proverb used to describe how people with similar tastes tend to seek out each others company. In Chinese there is a similar expression, 物以类聚, which literally means like attracts like.

The Chinese phrase is more than 2,000 years old. The phrase is said to have originated during the Warring States period (475-221 BC). A renown scholar, Chun Yukun, was asked by King Xuan of the State of Qi to bring other talented people like Chun to the King's court. For Chun, fulfilling this request was literally a walk in the park. As a respected scholar himself, Chun spent alot of his time mixing with other respected scholars, so he knew exactly where to find them - as he said to the King:

Birds of the same type often fly together and animals of the same type are often seen walking in groups.

This tendency of people to gravitate toward those who are similar still rings true today and, arguably, is a big reason why large communities naturally divide into groups.

Some argue that the Chinese idiom, 方以类聚, is also an equivalent expression.

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China | English | Idioms | Learning | Mandarin

The Year of the Rabbit

by Ben Schutz 18. February 2011 16:09

The Year of the Rabbit is a time for talking and reflecting after the inevitable dramas of the Tiger year that has just gone.

For the Chinese, rabbits have a couple of key traits.

1) Rabbits are associated with luck. If you see a rabbit flash in front of you, get ready for something good to come your way (见兔顾犬).

2) Rabbits are very cautious and keen to avoid confrontations - they will scurry away down their burrow rather than create a scene.

3) Rabbits are sticklers for the detail. They prefer to work behind the scenes and are always planning ahead - whether it be securing an escape route from trouble (狡兔三窟) or scheming about how to make life a little easier for themselves (守株待兔).


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China | Idioms

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