Tag Archives: Chinese literature

They do toil, and they do spin

Humans aren’t plants, it turns out; we just raise ‘em. 粒粒辛苦ryuu.ryuu.shin.ku Literally: grain* / drop – grain* / drop – spicy / unpleasant – bitter / suffer Alternately: Hard, steady work. To carry on with plain, painstaking, long-term labor. Elbows … Continue reading

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The best lover is one who breaks your spine

A book lover breaking your book’s spine, I mean. 葦編三絶i.hen.san.zetsu Literally: reed – braid – three – sever Alternately: Reading the same book over and over again. Close, careful, and frequent reading of a text. Notes: Think of a text … Continue reading

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Panta Rhei

流金鑠石ryuu.kin.shaku.seki Literally: flow – metal – melt* – stone Alternately: Incredible heat. Hot enough to soften and melt metal, or even stone. Notes: Bear in mind that there are multiple characters that can be rendered in English as “melt.” 鑠 … Continue reading

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An ounce of prevention is worth….

Buy it when prevention is cheap, not when cure is costly 治に居て乱を忘れず (Chi ni ite ran wo wasurezu; “In peace, do not forget strife”) Definition: Even in times of peace and safety, it’s still necessary to plan ahead in case … Continue reading

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Not quite cuckoo

But closer every day 鳩居鵲巣kyuu.kyo.jaku.sou Literally: dove – sit/be [in a place] – magpie – nest Alternately: Taking someone else’s achievements or social position for yourself. Undeservedly stealing someone else’s laurels or spotlight. Notes: This comes from our friend, the … Continue reading

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A Sangaria sangria

国破れて山河在り (Kuni yaburete sanga ari; “A country, destroyed; mountain and river, existing”) Definition: The works of humankind – castles, towns, countries – may fall or be destroyed, but the mountains and rivers remain. Kings and kingdoms pass, but Nature endures. … Continue reading

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And the leaves that are green

…seem to be green again the next year… but we are not leaves. 年年歳歳 nen.nen.sai.sai Literally: year – year – year/age – year/age Alternately: Every single year. Year in and year out. Notes: As always, the second instance of each … Continue reading

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Fly me home, country winds

越鳥南枝に巣くい、胡馬北風に嘶く (Ecchou nanshi ni sukui, koba hokufuu ni inanaku; “The bird from Yue builds its nest in southern branches; the horse from Hu neighs at the northern wind”) Definition: An expression of homesickness or nostalgia. A southern bird living in … Continue reading

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What was I saying? Ah, yes.

閑話休題 kan.wa.kyuu.dai Literally: leisure – talk – rest – topic Alternately: “But setting that aside….” A phrase used to put an end to a digression, aside, or idle chatter, and return the listener’s attention to the main topic or thread … Continue reading

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