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Words of Wisdom: Chinese Proverbs V

By Yona Williams    1/28/11

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The power of speech can ruin relationships, turn family against one another, and threaten job security. There are many Chinese proverbs that warn people of the misuse of words and how detrimental the consequences can become. In this article, you will also encounter Chinese proverbs that speak of determination, success, and experience.

"When something has been said, a team of four horses cannot overtake it."

During ancient times, the fastest way to get from point A to point B was a wagon drawn by four horses. This proverbs means that horses cannot chase back the words you have said. If you have made a promise or statement, you cannot take it back. People are expected to take responsibility for what they say. It is advised to speak after you have carefully thought out your words. Always think of the consequences of what you may say.

"Not having arrived at the Yellow River, the heart is not dead."

This proverb is used to describe a person who does not give up, even when it looks like they should. It takes something drastic for them to realize the ultimate outcome. The moral of the saying is that only when there is no road left does one finally feel despair. A similar reference is "no tears until one sees one's own coffin."

"Tens of thousands of bones will become ashes when one general achieves his fame."

In order to achieve success, there are always some who lose out. For example, a great leader (like a president) will need to sacrifice the desires of some in order to accomplish goals. After any political race, there are people who have felt betrayed or misled. It is suggested to take a look at the negative effects of someone's achievement that emerged during the process of accomplishing their goals. Another saying similar to this proverb is "To make an omelet you have to break eggs."

"Grow a tree for ten years; grow men for a hundred."

The meaning of this proverb is that nurturing and educating the talents of the human race is the key to prosperity.

"If one does not plow, there will be no harvest."

If no work is put into a job or towards achieving a goal, then nothing will be accomplished. Also, hard work is the key to success. In other words, "No pain, no gain."

"If you say too much, you have to have made an error."

If you talk too much, you increase your chances of making an error or saying too much in the process that can hurt you in the long run. Another saying is 'Loose lips, sink ships."

"Reading ten thousands of books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles."

The meaning behind this proverb is that you can spend all the time you want reading and applying theories, but it is not the same as personal experience.



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