Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some More Proverbs From Shandong Province, the Home of Confucius

Having reat riches depends on one's fate; having small riches depends on one's determination. (Not all will attain great wealth, for affluence, according to this particular saying, depends on one's fate, perhaps on one's previous existence. Mere survival, however, is open to all through hard work and perseverance.)

Just as the great river has flowing water and the little river has fish, a soup of fatty meat has fat. (There's a reason for everything.)

Thirty summers must pass before one really knows how high the heavens are and how deep the land is. (I have heard some friends from mainland China and Taiwan say that "the young aren't mature and the mature aren't young.")

The sky above needs a below, just as a maiden needs a man to marry--there's no way out of it. (Some things are predetermined by nature whether we like it or not.)

Count on the tough and hardy to come out of the countryside and the rich soil to support a harvest! (In other words, have faith! Let nature take its course.)

If you don't plant the bamboo this year, exactly when do you expect to get the shoots? ("Make hay while the sun is out.")

A mighty dragon might find it difficult to defeat a snake hiding low in the grass. (When you must fight, do so knowing exactly who, what and where your enemy is. Don't take anything for granted; don't be cocky. Is it not said that elephants panic at the sight of a mouse?)

When you reach the age of eighty-eight, you don't go around mocking the lame or the blind. (The future is unknown to all of us; thus, it is wrong to make fun of others in their present plight.)

To see whether one has finesse or not is as simple as seeing whether the brush wipes the table clean and whether the broom sweeps the floor clean. ("The proof is in the pudding.")

Don't demand that the dates on sale at the market come without pits. (Nothing's perfect.)

Just as a farm field fears an early fall, a person may fear an old age with poverty. (When we are younger, we need to take care of our later needs. The message here is reminiscent of that found in Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper.")

Like the crow's laughing at the pig for being black. ("Like the kettle's calling the pot black.")

To eat someone else's flesh and then to complain that the meat is not tasty! (Said of those who are ungrateful.)

People can see with their own eyes what you have done with your money; without your money, you have only your promises of what you claim you shall do. ("Money talks." It is with money that much can be accomplished.)

Whose grove doesn't have at least one crooked tree? ("No one is perfect.")


from Zhongguorende suhua. (See 6/9/07 for full citation.) For more proverbs from Shandong, see 11/18/09.

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