Idioms Gallery
Blog archive at the bottom of the page.

Language Gallery by Sharon Hahn Darlin

Jan 14, 2009

怒蠅拔劍 angry at nothing

怒 (anger) 蠅 (fly) 拔 (draw) 劍 (sword)

You draw a sword upon the sight of a fly.
Mighty anger
caused by... a trifle.
A fly, no less.

Feel sheepish?
Just don't let anyone see you
doing that.

Haaaaai - yaaaa.

兎死狐悲 mourning for fellow creatures

兎 (rabbit) 死 (die) 狐 (fox) 悲 (sad)

The bunny dies, so the fox is sad.
e's forgotten all about their differences.

The loss of a fellow comely furry cre
Surely that's enough cause for the blues.
Not odd at all.

Jan 12, 2009

今始初聞 it's news to me

今 (now) 始 (start) 初 (first) 聞 (hear)

News is losing its novelty.

Do you still exclaim, "Wow, that's news to me"? "News" seems almost too readily available these days. We are subject to important "news" several times a day. Even when the information is actually fresh, you wonder if
it has already been regurgitated through various channels of media.

I am more likely to say "Wow, that's news to me" when I hear about gossip involving someone I know.

Personal news. Perhaps that's the appeal of Myspace, Facebook and Twitter.

It's become easy for anyone to break any kind of news. It's still uncommon to see a well-written, in-depth analysis of news, stuff that matters.

That would be news to me.

Jan 11, 2009

五里霧中 lost in a fog

五 (five) 里 (1/3 mile) 霧 (fog) 中 (middle)

You can't see two miles ahead of you.

When there are too many uncertainties involved, it would seem as if you are surrounded by fog. The present seems confusing, and the future seems unclear. 五里霧中

"And by the way, the communication system was not that good. There is a fog of war – trying to sort through the fog as the commander in chief."

-George Bush, in an interview with The Dallas Morning News

Jan 6, 2009

環肥燕瘦 fat, skinny, beautiful regardless

環 (ring) 肥 (fat) 燕 (swallow) 瘦 (slender)

Beauty, according to 環肥燕瘦, comes in all sizes. Whether you look like a butterball or a chopstick, a beauty, apparently, is still beautiful.

The bony bird ("swallow") beauties are traditionally represented by a lady by the name of 趙飛燕 (pictured far right)

The "ring-like" rotund beauties are represented by lady 楊貴妃 (approximated on the left by a non-butterball actress).
No doubt, the 21st century favors one type over the other. Quoted from USAToday:

Air India has fired ten of its flight attendants for being "exceptionally overweight," an airline spokesman confirms to Reuters this morning. The Times of London writes "the state-owned carrier handed the staff their papers over Christmas after they failed to slim down to meet company weight restrictions, which are calculated according to height and age... "

(cat image from wall001
which doesn't load sometimes)

Jan 1, 2009

送舊迎新 adieu, old year; ring in the new year

送 (send) 舊 (old) 迎 (greet) 新 (new)

Happy New Year. 新年快樂.
(simplified, 新年快乐)

新 (new) 年 (year) 快 (quick) 樂 (cheer)


謹 (prudent) 賀 (congratulate) 新 (new) 年 (year)

Yes. Prudent New Year to you, too.