Idioms Lesson 49 Failing to keep in the times 不合时宜

Failing to keep in the times

There was a couple in the State of Lu. The husband was an expert shoemaker and the wife had a skilled hand in weaving silk.

One day, after a long discussion, they decided to go to the State of Yue to earn a livelihood. Learning about their plan, the neighbors advised them not to go. "Don’t go there," said one neighbor, "If you go, you can never earn a good living."

"We don’t understand," the couple objected, "We have a fine command of our crafts. How could we not earn a living? Don’t talk such nonsense!"

"Indeed, you have skill," explained the man, "But have you taken notice of the fact that shoes require people to wear them? The people of Yue don’t wear shoes; they are barefooted. Also, you use your silk to make hats. People there like to wear their hair down; they never wear hats. To whom would you sell your shoes and hats then? Experienced though you are in these crafts, the skills you have mastered are useless there."

After this explanation, the husband and wife understood that anything not adaptable to the outside world is impractical.

bù hé shí yí






bù wén bù wèn
take no notice of; be indifferent to; show no interest in
bù zhé bù kòu
one hundred percent; to the letter; purely and simply

bàn xìn bàn yí
half-believing, half-doubting; not quite convinced; doubtful

rú chī rú zuì
(doing something) as if intoxicated and enthralled

wú biān wú jì
boundless; limitless; immense; vast

wú yǐng wú zōng
disappear without a trace; melt into thin air

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