Be True to One's Word

by Ben Schutz 5. April 2012 17:59

The Chinese idiom 一諾千金 (yi1 nuo4 qian1 jin1) literally means the promise is weightier than one thousand taels of gold. It comes from a story about Ji Bu, a well known chief officer of the imperial bodyguards in the court of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24).

Ji's claim to fame was his mastery or martial arts and his commitment to personal honour and loyalty. As a young man, Ji joined the rebel army fighting against the rule of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). After the collapse of the Qin regime, Ji survived a number of trumped up charges against him and became the chief officer of the imperial bodyguards.

Ji remained an outspoken critic against corruption and bad policies. One day, he openly advised his friends to distance themselves from Cao Qiusheng, a silver tongued aide in the court. News of this eventually reach Cao, so the aide approached Ji to discuss the matter. Cao said:

I cannot understand what makes me such a loathesome person in your eyes. You are from the Chu area like me. Everyone in that area, including me, holds you in high regard due to your commitment to personal honour and loyalty. We all say that "a promise made by Ji Bu is weighter than one thousand taels of gold."

Cao's flattery changed Ji's attitude toward him. Ji came to respect Cao and later the two became good friends.

The English idioms be true to one's words and one's word is one's bond have a meaning that is equivalent to the Chinese idiom 一諾千金 (yi1 nuo4 qian1 jin1).

Tags: , , ,

Blog | China | English | Idioms | Learning | Mandarin

A Sunday School Truth

by Ben Schutz 7. February 2012 21:51

The Chinese idiom 老生常谈 (lao3 sheng1 chang2 tan2) literally means the mere platitudes or commonplace talk of an old scholar. The idiom comes from a story about an "old scholar" called Guan Lu who lived in the State of Wei during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280).

Guan was a child prodigy and by the tender age of 15 he was renown for his scholarly abilities. He was so well versed in classical literature and astronomy that he was invited to a local magistrate's home to discuss these matters with more than 100 philosophers. These philosophers tried to completely stump the young prodigy with curly questions, but it was to no avail.

Guan's prestige continued to grow and officials sought him out for advice. One day, two ministers of the imperial court asked Guan to fortell their fortunes and career paths because they had both had bad dreams the previous night. Guan learned that the two officials were nasty pieces of work. They were vindictive and greedy and despised by their colleagues and subordinates. So Guan told the officials that their dreams indicated a gloomy future beset with many problems and difficulties.

One minister was like a cat on a hot tin roof - he became very anxious and worried about what Guan had told him. The other minister tried to console him by telling him that Guan's words were the commonplace talk of a scholar and that he should not work himself into a lather over nothing.

However, several months later both ministers were executed for their involvement in a bungled coup. Guan subsequently told his friends that this was a typical example of what can happen if people ignore the truth expressed by a commonplace notion. English speakers call these commonplace notions Sunday school truths.

Tags: , ,

Blog | China | English | Idioms | Learning | Mandarin


Visiting the Thatched Hut of Zhuge Liang

Read more.. | Comments: 0
21. November 2012 21:19 | Rating: 4 / 2

The sky is falling

Read more.. | Comments: 0
22. October 2012 00:25 | Rating: 3.3 / 3

The Phoney Player

Read more.. | Comments: 0
4. October 2012 20:08 | Rating: 0 / 0

Bring the Dragon to Life

Read more.. | Comments: 0
10. September 2012 21:51 | Rating: 0 / 0

When the Birds are Gone and the Hares are Bagged

Read more.. | Comments: 0
24. July 2012 19:23 | Rating: 0 / 0

Grind an Iron Rod into a Needle

Read more.. | Comments: 0
20. July 2012 00:13 | Rating: 0 / 0

Remove the Root Cause

Read more.. | Comments: 0
6. July 2012 18:49 | Rating: 0 / 0

A Dog's Tale

Read more.. | Comments: 0
6. June 2012 20:08 | Rating: 5 / 1

Learning to Walk

Read more.. | Comments: 0
20. May 2012 22:59 | Rating: 0 / 0

Mastery of the Butcher's Cleaver

Read more.. | Comments: 0
20. April 2012 20:43 | Rating: 5 / 2

Home \ iPhone Applications \ Idioms Dictionary \ Learning Blog \ Why Learn Idioms? \ FAQ \ Sitemap

Copyright Purple Panda 2010 | Terms of Use | Contact Us

PO Box 37, Mt Eliza VIC 3930
Purple Panda Pty Ltd ABN 49 115 506 342