Chinese Words of Wisdom

Posted by Fifi Yang on Jan 27, 2016

Chinese words of wisdom

Chinese characters are as broad and profound as the culture they represent. In China, as in all cultures, we have many sayings – Chinese idioms, proverbs, folk adages and so on. Many are derived from various customs, but many also are found in classical allusions or verses, "ditties," odes, and songs. Chinese people often think of them as inspirational words of wisdom. So, how many do you know?

Here are some examples:

只要功夫深,铁杵磨成针。zhǐ yào gōng fū shēn, tiě chǔ mó shéng zhēn. This means that if you work at something hard enough, you can grind an iron rod into a needle – perseverance spells success. It is one of the most famous wisdom sayings in China.

水滴石穿 shuǐ dī shí chuān has a similar meaning to the above. "Constant dripping wears down the stone."

We often use these sayings to motivate ourselves or other people or to encourage someone to persevere, not to give up easily; as long as we keep our resolve, we can be successful in our efforts.

少壮不努力,老大徒伤悲。 Shào zhuàng bù nǔ lì, lǎo dà tú shāng bēi. This sentence is known to nearly everyone in China: One who misspends his youth will grieve and regret in vain in old age. Some people tend to easily abandon time during their younger days, squandering time. Yet, everyone knows 光阴似箭,岁月如梭 guāng yīn sì jiàn, suì yuè rú suō – Days and months flash by as quickly as an arrow and shuttle.

Next we can look at some of the well-known aphorisms about commitment.

一诺千金 yí nuò qiān jīn – A promise is weightier than one thousand bars of gold, referring to a promise that will be kept.

一言九鼎 yí yán jiǔ ding – One word is as heavy as nine tripods, also referring to a promise that will be kept.

一言既出,驷马难追。ì yán jì chū, sì mǎ nán zhuī – A word once spoken cannot be overtaken even by a team of four horses, meaning that a promise cannot be taken back once it is made.

Learn more Chinese idioms and sayings here.

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi Yang is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Having spent a great number of years learning French, Fifi understands the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students.

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