About Chinese idioms

About Chinese idioms

Postby hantze » Mon May 30, 2011 12:02 pm

There are three types of Chinese idioms.
1. The first one is a word phrase which is composed of words, and its meaning can be read out loud from its composing words, such as,

譁 眾 取 寵 : Moving the crowd with words to gain their trust.

譁 : bragging with exaggeration
眾 : crowd
取 : to get, to gain
寵 : favor, favorable

2. The second type is culture laden word phrase, and its meaning cannot be read out from its composing words which act only as a pointer to point out a historical event. The meaning of this idiom is fully dependent upon the content of that pointed event, such as:

風 聲 鶴 唳 : so scared and worried about the enemy troop is closing from all sides.

風 : wind
聲 : sound
鶴 : crane
唳 : the crying sound of birds

This idiom points to a historical event that a king was defeated in battle. During his retreat, he thought that enemy troop is closing in from all sides when he heard the sound of wind or the crying of crane. This idiom depicts the scene, the feeling and the situation of that historical moment.

3. The third type is language laden word phrase, and its meaning cannot be read out from its composing words as it is only a part of a longer sentence, or its meaning must be inferred with some language traditions, such as:

說 三 道 四 : giving out opinion without substance or true knowledge

說 : speaking
三 : three
道 : also means speaking here
四 : four

For a subject or situation, one who is saying "three" or speaking "four" about it without giving a precise advice is without substance or true knowledge.
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