Idiom Supperzzle: Pearls before swine vs duì niú tán qín 中英成语对对碰:把珍珠丢在猪前vs对牛弹琴

2016-01-11 11:30

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Editor’s note:

Chinese idioms are priceless legacies deeply rooted in traditional culture, making Chinese language more powerful, more functional and thus, more fascinating. Like Chinese language, English language also has its own treasure—English idioms are vivid, terse and profoundly connotative. Although, there are many differences between the Chinese language and the English language, some Chinese idioms and English idioms are equivalent in either meaning or form. Let’s share the origins of some of these equivalent idioms to appreciate the quintessence of both languages.


根深于中国传统文化中的汉语成语是一笔无价的遗产,它使汉语语言强而有力更具魅力。英语如同汉语也有自己的瑰宝——英语成语,它们生动,精炼,往往能够传达深刻复杂的寓意。尽管中文和英文有很多差异,但有些汉语成语和英语成语具有相同的意义与形式。 让我们共同分享两个语言中的成语等价词进一步记忆两种语言的精髓吧!



Play the lute to a cow

对牛弹琴(duì niú tán qín) is a Chinese idiom which originated from a story with the meaning of “to speak cant to a layman”.


In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was a master of the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. Unfortunately, his rash behavior often led him astray.


One day, he saw a cow grazing in a field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully, finding himself intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds, simply focusing its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised at this and could not comprehend the cow’s flippant indifference. He felt that since his performance had been masterful, this means that the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!


From that story comes the idiom "To play the lute to a cow", which implies that the speaker or writer has over-estimated his listeners or readers, or someone speaks or writes without considering his audience.


Englishe quivalent idiom



To cast pearls before swine

The idiom originated from the Bible: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you(from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 7.6). Swine and dog were regarded as the unclean animals in Judaism, while the pearl was pure, beautiful and rich. Because the Christianity derived from Judaism, the idiom was widely used in western countries.

这一俗语来自于《圣经》:“不要把圣物给狗,也不要把你们的珍珠丢在猪前(《圣经•马太福音》7章6节)。” 犹太教中猪和狗是低贱的象征,而珍珠则始终象征着纯洁、美丽以及财富。由于基督教由犹太教衍生而来,这个俗语在西方国家广为使用。


She read them Shakespeare, but it was casting pearls before swine.


I won't waste good advice on John anymore because he never listens to it. I won't cast pearls before swine.


责任编辑:Li Qiao(QN0024)