Archive for February, 2010

Zhuubaajie on SU YU (俗语)

February 24, 2010

  ZHUUBAAJIE likes to think that understanding makes cooperation easier and more likely.  For better understanding, I give you my interpretation of Chinese Su Yu. May you find it easier to follow how the average Chinese thinks.

SU YU (俗语).   As China becomes an active stakeholder in the world, the world makes more contacts with the Chinese. It is more than truism that the Chinese think differently.  To make it easier to understand why and how, Zhuubaajie shares his interpretations of some common Chinese SU YU (俗语), or common sayings, that most Chinese grow up with.  They are short musings about life, derived from everyday Chinese experience.  Some of them are quite perspicacious.

Many Su Yu entries are observations about how the world works.  Others are aspirations of what should be, and make ethical commands. Collectively Su Yu serves as an incomplete guide of the Chinese way of thinking.

Think of Su Yu as fortune cookie wisdom if you will, but the authentic Chinese version of it. The origin of Su Yu is varied.  Some are truly very old, and some are snippets from famous Chinese poems and other famous writings, and in turn make (summary) literary references.  But to qualify, most Su Yu are truly succinct, even as many of them come in paired phrases.  Su Yu often paints vivid pictures, making them easy to remember and recite by even the illiterate.

Zhuubaajie believes that in fact most Chinese historically, other than the few scholars, had never been into convoluted philosophical -isms.  Common folks need guidance and they look to common sense wisdom.  Su Yu are easy to understand and they convince by power of simplicity and inevitability. Given that Chinese characters each has only one syllable, and Chinese grammar intentionally leaves quite a few words (and naturally assumes that the listener or reader will insert the missing words mentally), Su Yu as a class packs, syllable for syllable, the most wisdom in the fewest syllables.  Su Yu wisdom is often uniquely Chinese.

I will label my Su Yu entries rather randomly by number (SY1, SY2, etc.).