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Meng Lelan

杯弓蛇影 - Short Story for 2014

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Meng Lelan

Well, more of a fable and morals lesson than a short story, but beginners need to start somewhere beginner-friendly. My beginning class read this story some time ago and staged a skit based on this story with props such as toy snakes, wine cups, a kid's bow and arrow set, stethoscope (old one donated by a physician who was in the class), etc. So think about why and how we used those props as you read this one. Also think about what is this story trying to tell you, what is the moral of the story, and can you think of how this applies to Chinese life, society, and history. You can also discuss here any knotty problems you have in understanding the story, though I would recommend that beginners read this from Tales and Traditions Volume 1 by Yun Xiao et al. Both simp and trads are provided in that volume. Glossaries provided, while pinyin support is discreetly placed in the last pages of this volume. 

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Demonic_Duck

Looks like the book's a good recommendation, though looking in my own 成语故事 book (李新武 著/人民文学出版社) this is definitely one of the easier ones in there as well. I think the problem I have with a lot of 成语故事 is that they use about 50 other 成语 in the course of explaining the one in the title. Which is fine for Chinese kids who already have that background, not so much for your average foreigner.

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Lu

I'm sorry I'm lazy, but does anyone have a link or text file for this story? Or should I just buy (or find & borrow) the book already if I want to read it?

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Meng Lelan

I looked up some links but the wording and sentence constructions they use is something like intermediate or advanced level. Though the version that I have in my copy is short enough that I can type the text out and paste it here if that helps. 

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Lu

I'd hate to inconvenience you like that. Perhaps you can type a sentence to throw into google and see if it's somewhere online?

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ouyangjun

I found the following link:

 

http://wenku.baidu.com/link?url=dKwUzfYEtezvNlbPf9oLjXn97fR1DR7wtimzYipjdnknA-_N8rkwrBktv0Odn7Yq8pGhYJo3qI94NOdWB7oHay5AkNFCh7nad8yvXlLZzu_

 

Not sure how close this is to the suggested version.

 

PS:  if you saw my original post ignore it, i pasted the wrong link.

Edited by ouyangjun

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Meng Lelan

Here is the first line as it appears in the text...."It was a dark and stormy night..." uh no wrong story here it is

中国古代有一个人叫乐广。乐广有很多朋友, 他最喜欢做的事情就是请他的朋友们到家里来喝酒, 聊天儿。 

 

中國古代有一個人叫樂廣。樂廣有很多朋友, 他最喜歡做的事情就是請他的朋友們到家裡來喝酒, 聊天兒。 

 

 

And really, I can type up the story into here after I teach class today. 

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Demonic_Duck

Hell, I'm gonna type up my version, good practice for my "pinyin sightreading skills".

 

杯弓蛇影

 

西晋时,有个叫乐(yuè)广的人。有一次他邀请一个朋友到他家里喝酒,可喝完酒朋友回去就生了一场大病。乐广听说后,便赶紧去探望,想问个究竟。朋友说:“前次在你家喝酒,看到杯里有条蛇在游动,心里很害怕,不喝吧,又觉得对主人不敬。喝了以后,回到家便病了。”乐广听后很纳闷。回到家里,猛然看到墙上挂着一张角弓,心里明白了。他再次把那位朋友请来,又给朋友斟上一杯酒。朋友指着酒杯惊呼:“看,蛇!”乐广取下墙上的弓,说:“那只是弓的影子,现在没了。”朋友恍然大悟,病也全好了。

 

杯弓蛇影——把酒杯中的弓影当成了蛇。比喻因疑虑而引起恐惧,自相惊扰。

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Lu

Interesting how both versions name the host, but by different names... Also I wonder if the 蛇 in this case is actually a worm, as a full-sized snake is rather big to fit in a wineglass (or a stomach).

I came across 硬着头皮 several times in the last few days and it's one of those words where I know immediately what it means, but haven't found one translation that always fits.

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Demonic_Duck

Huh? In both versions he's called 乐广.

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hackinger

Hi,

 

there are quite a few different versions in the internet and I attempted to read a few of them. For instance I  found one version in an HSK  pdf (Page 14):

http://www.confuciusinstitute.manchester.ac.uk/documents/H51330.pdf

 

On youtube there are several short videos (just search for 杯弓蛇影).

 

I certainly will remember this chengyu.

 

Cheers

 

hackinger

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tysond

I just read all three versions posted above.  @Demonic_Duck's version in the comments is the shortest and easiest, the HSK 5 test version (it's on page 15) is a bit longer and more complex, but not overly, and the link to Baidu is a even more complex, and is a bit different in the details.  I'd actually recommend trying them all.

 

This story will not only teach you some Chinese but a number of interesting cultural lessons:

  • Chinese drinking culture is based on drinking even though you really don't want to
  • In China you don't offend your host even if you think they are trying to kill you
  • Pyscho-somatic illnesses were taken just as seriously as "real" illnesses
  • Ancient Chinese eyesight may have been quite bad without glasses

 

Regarding 硬着头皮 - isn't it a bit like "a stiff upper lip" which is an old British term for summoning courage and staying strong.

The characters kind of fit into a similar idea of having thick skin on your head.

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Meng Lelan

So you're not going to re-write this story in RPG style, tysond? ;-)

 

Regarding 硬着头皮 - isn't it a bit like "a stiff upper lip" which is an old British term for summoning courage and staying strong.

 

That's right! It does mean to brace yourself to do a difficult task.

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Meng Lelan

Yes, maybe he was quite drunk to be thinking such a small reflection in his cup would be such a big snake. Like I said in my opening for this thread, it really is kind of a silly story. 

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Ruben von Zwack

Ello ladies and gents, I have two questions, may I ask your help?

 

。。。可是我还是喝下去。。。 

1) does 喝下去 mean something like gulp it down quickly? Or force myself to drink something? Or is ist just an expression for normal drinking?

2) 可是我还是 - would you translate that as "but I still/nevertheless"?

 

And this question might be a bit stupid, and I guess I already know the answer, but I really stumbled over it when reading, and I don't find it inherently logic:

正当他们聊得很高兴的时候。。。 

1. Just at that moment when they were chatting happily

or

2. Just when they were chatting about happy times

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mouse

I am nowhere near an expert, so this could quite easily be wrong, but:

 

1) I would say, gulp down quickly

2) yeah, "but I nevertheless..."

3) number one, just when they were chatting happily

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Ruben von Zwack

 谢谢你老鼠大哥!

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Demonic_Duck

。。。可是我还是喝下去。。。 

1) does 喝下去 mean something like gulp it down quickly? Or force myself to drink something? Or is ist just an expression for normal drinking?

2) 可是我还是 - would you translate that as "but I still/nevertheless"?

Normally "v.下去" is "continue v.ing", so it'd be "but I'm still drinking" (i.e. "continuing to drink").

 

 

正当他们聊得很高兴的时候。。。 

1. Just at that moment when they were chatting happily

or

2. Just when they were chatting about happy times

Number 1, because of the 得.

 

Also, which version of the story are these from? It might be easier to give a more accurate translation with the full sentences.

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Ruben von Zwack

 Number 1, because of the 得.

 

Ahhh, now I got it!!!! 谢谢魔鸭大哥!

 

And "talking about happy times" would be somethig like 聊幸福的时间, right? Or 聊 快乐的时间。 No 得 (and, besides, rather 时间).

 

Oops. I was reading it in Meng Lelan's version. I assumed you had the same book and that it was the version you had typed out up there and that everyone knew what I was talking about! But upon closer inspection I see they aren't identical.

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