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Current Location: Homepage » Chinese Reading » Chinese Short Story » Main Body

Story Behind the Idiom: Lose the Axe, Suspect the neighbor

Time:2015-02-28Source:Internet
Profile:Story Behind the Idiom: Lose the Axe, Suspect the neighbor
(单词翻译:双击或拖选)
Been a little while since I posted, I’ve been a bit wrapped up in my new iPad app, Hanzi Reader, which is, may I say, amazing for reading practice. It’s very much like this site, except you can choose any Chinese text you like, copy-paste it into the reader, the reader analyses the text. After the analysis is complete, pushing any word in the text pops up an English and pinyin translation – truly a wonderful reading tool.
Read Simplified Chinese: Read Chinese CharactersThe “Story Behind the Idiom” posts are my favorite to put up, they’re not only helpful in remember idioms, they’re usually pretty interesting to read. This one is a lower intermediate text.
At the end of the first paragraph, the protagonist says, ““我早就看出那个家伙不是个好东西。” This translates to “I always thought that guy was no good.” But why use the term “东西”, or “thing”, instead of “person”? In Chinese, when you refer to a person as 东西, or “thing”, this is a form of insult. In English, an equivalent might be the phrase “you worthless thing!” So we can understand from the use of the word 东西 in this sentence that the protagonist really doesn’t like the person he’s speaking about.
Click to Listen
斧子 – fǔ zi – Axe
邻居 – lín jū – Neighbor
言行 – yán xíng – Words and Actions
神情 – shén qíng – Look, expression
断定 – duàn dìng – To conclude
家伙 – jiā huo – Guy, chap
砍柴 – kǎn chái – Chop firewood
怀疑 – huán yí – To doubt, to suspect
根本 – gēn běn – At all, in any way
胡乱 – hú luàn – Careless, reckless
猜疑 – cāi yí – Suspicious
有人丢失了一把斧子,怎么找也没有找到。后来他认为是邻居的儿子偷去了,他注意到邻居的孩子的言行,神情怎么看都象是一个小偷。于是他断定是那个孩子偷去了,心里还对说,“我早就看出那个家伙不是个好东西。”
第二天,他上山砍柴时在一棵树边上发现了丢失的斧子。现在他才想起来,原来是前天忘记在这里了。他后悔随便的怀疑邻居的孩子。回家后,再看那个孩子的言行和神情,根本不象是偷东西的人。于是他又对说,“我早就想过,他不是那种偷东西的人。”     
后来人们就用“失斧疑邻”形容主观臆造、胡乱猜疑。
Hide English »
There once was a man who lost his axe, and though he searched all over for it he still couldn’t find it. After a while he thought it must have been that the neighbor’s son stole it, so he began to take note of the child’s expressions, words and actions and thought they were all those of a thief. Thus, he concluded that it was the neighbor’s kid that stole it, and in his heart he said, “I always thought that guy was no good.”
On the second day, when he went up the mountain to chop firewood and at the side of a tree he found his lost axe. Now he finally remembered that he’d actually forgotten it there two days before. He regretted casually suspecting his neighbor’s child. After he returned home, he took another look at the child’s behavior, words and actions, and he didn’t seem at all like a person who would steal anything. So he said, “I’ve always thought that [that kid] is not the kind of person who would steal”.     
After this, people have used the phrase “Lose the Axe and Suspect the Neighbor” to describe inventing subjective feelings and careless suspicions.
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