Tag Archives: Chinese Antiquity

Soldiers are for war, not for peaceful protests

(Another saying that features 焉. Next week we’ll have something different, I promise.) 鶏を割くに焉んぞ牛刀を用いん (Niwatori wo saku ni izukunzo gyuutou wo mochiin; “Why use a cow-cleaver to cut up a chicken?”) Definition: There’s no need to use powerful tools, or … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ambition is for the birds

燕雀安くんぞ鴻鵠の志を知らんや (Enjaku izukunzo koukoku no kokorozashi wo shiran ya; “How could the swallow or sparrow understand the goose or swan?”) Definition: People of lowly character or small ability don’t, and can’t, understand the thought processes and ambitions of those with … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Selfless love

Like, literally selfless and universal 兼愛無私 ken.ai.mu.shi Literally: already / and – love – no – self / I Alternately: Equal affection for all people, without drawing lines between oneself and the Other. Universal love without bias or petty tribalism. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does this ring any bells?

Not for those who refuse to hear! 耳を掩い*て鐘を盗む (Mimi wo ooite kane wo nusumu; “To cover one’s ears and steal a bell”) *See Notes for an important comment on pronunciation! Definition: When you think you’ve hidden something – usually something … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exceeding fines

信賞必罰 shin.shou.hitsu.batsu Literally: fidelity – prize/reward – inevitable – punishment Alternately: Sure reward and certain punishment. Strict, unfailing, and proper apportionment of just deserts, both boons and banes. Notes: This phrase comes to us from the Han Feizi (the『韓非子』= Japanese … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Men, said the Devil

…They don’t want to mend their own ways, but each other’s* 六国を滅ぼす者は六国なり (Rikkoku wo horobosu mono wa rikkoku nari; “The one who destroys the six countries, is the six countries”) Definition: When a nation falls, it usually isn’t ultimately due … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment