Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On procrastination

I often think, rightly or wrongly, of Chinese as lacking in the infinite subtlety of English. This largely centres on the vast number of ways that I might answer a question in English compared to the comparatively fewer options you hear in Chinese.

For example an Englishperson's response to a 'how are you?' question at the end of a tough day might be:

I'm tired/worn out/run down/sleepy/exhausted/knackered/fatigued/whacked/beat/ready to drop/etc., etc.

The Chinese equivalent from my experience would typically be represented by a respresented by

累 or, if they were really tired 好累.

Like I say, it's may well be a case that the act of observation means that the result is affected (i.e. people use simple vocabulary because I'm there). I'll let you know in 30 years when I've finally started to approach fluency.

It is nice, however, to come across phrases which are completely different from anything you'd say in English and add a lovely touch of colour to the language. On that note, today's Phrase of the Day is:

lǎn lǘ shàng mò shǐ niào duō

This is a proverb which means: A lazy person will find many excuses to delay working

The literal translation however is: When a lazy donkey is turning a grindstone, it takes a lot of time off for peeing and pooing

On that note, I must get on...

1 comment:

花崗齋之愚公 said...

Fabulous. I'm thinking of getting that phrase done up in beautiful, old-school shufa and hanging it right over my laptop. Thanks for a great post.