Chinese allegories Lesson 23

biǎn dan méi zā – liǎng tóu dǎ tā
扁担没扎 – 两头打塌
When the carrying/shoulder pole is not secured at both ends, its loads slip off. – try to grab both but end up getting neither; fall between two stools

gŏu niǎn yā zi – guā guā jiào
狗撵鸭子 – 呱呱叫
A duck chased by a dog – quacking at the top of its voice. "呱呱叫" in colloquial Chinese is often used to describe something excellent or someone who is very skillful and can accomplish something perfectly.

gŏu yǎo cì wei – wú chù xià kǒu
狗咬刺猬 – 无处下口
A dog snapping at a hedgehog – having nowhere to bite. This allegory means not knowing where to start or being in no position to accomplish something.

gǒu zuò jiào zi – bù shí tái ju
狗坐轿子 – 不识抬举
A dog sitting in a sedan chair – unable to appreciate a favor

bō li bēi lǐ de cāng ying – yǒu guāng míng wú qián tú
玻璃杯里的苍蝇 – 有光明无前途
Fly in the glass – seeing the light but not the future

yī gēn kuài zi chī ǒu – zhuān tiāo yǎn
一根筷子吃藕 – 专挑眼
Eating lotus root with only one chopstick – picking it up by the holes. This allegory is used to refer to someone who always picks flaws.

duō nián de gǔ miào – lǎo sì (lǎo sì)
多年的古庙 – 老四(老寺)
An ancient temple – literally, old monastery; figuratively, No. 4. ("老四," which means No. 4, is a homophone for "老寺," which means old monastery.)

hé shang de nǎo ké – méi fǎ (fà)
和尚的脑壳 – 没法(发)
A monk’s head – literally, with no hair; figuratively, no way out. ("发", meaning hair, has a similar sound to "法", which means method or way. Thus, "没发", meaning "with no hair", becomes "没法", meaning "no way out, or being able to do nothing about a situation".)

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