Monday, July 25, 2011

朝三暮四 Three in the Morning, and Four in the Evening

What was the difference between Mr. Monkey's two suggestions?
Why were all the monkeys fooled  by him?
Man is certainly smarter than monkeys. But  it is not nice to use your eloquence against your not-so-smart fellowman.

从前有个人,养了很多猴子, 大家都叫他猴子先生。他熟悉猴子的脾气,猴子也听得懂他说的话。 猴子先生的猴子和别的猴子不一样, 他们不喜欢吃香蕉,花生,却喜欢吃一种特别的果子, 每天都要吃很多. 这种果子很贵,猴子先生没有钱给猴子买那么多果子了, 他想给猴子少吃点果子,但是他怕猴子不高兴,于是,他想了一个办法。

有一天早上,猴子先生对猴子说: “从现在起,我每天早上给你们3个果子,晚上4个,你们说好不好?” 猴子们听了都说不好,觉得他给的太少了。猴子先生于是笑着说: “那么,早上4个,晚上3个,好不好呢?” 猴子们听了,个个都很高兴,都说好。“朝三暮四”这个成语就是从这个故事来的。但是,现在这个成语有特别的意思: 一个人一会儿这样,一会儿那样,变来变去。


cong2qian2  you3ge4ren2,  yang3le  hen3duo1  hou2zi,  da4jia1 dou1  jiao4ta1  hou2zi  xian1sheng1.  ta1  shu2xi1  hou2zide  pi2qi4,  hou2zi  ye3  ting1dedong3  ta1  shuo1de hua4.  hou2zi  xian1sheng1de  hou2zi  he2  bie2de  hou2zi  bu4yi2yang4,  ta1men  bu4  xi3huan1  chi1  xiang1jiao1,  hua1sheng1,  que4  xi3huan1  chi1  yi1zhong3  te4bie2de  guo3zi ,  mei3tian1  dou1yao4  chi1  hen3duo1,  zhe4zhong3  guo3zi   hen3 gui4,  hou2zi  xian1sheng1   mei2you3  qian2   gei3  hou2zi  mai3  na4me duo1  guo3zi le,  ta1  xiang3gei3  hou2zi  shao3  chi1dian3  guo3zi,   dan4shi4  ta1  pa4  hou2zi  bu4gao1xing4,  yu2shi4,  ta1  xiang3le  yi2ge4  ban4fa3. 

 you3 yi4tian1  zao3shang4,  hou2zi  xian1sheng1  dui4   hou2zi  shuo1: "cong2  xian4zai4 qi3,  wo3  mei3tian1  zao3shang4  gei3  ni3men   san1ge4 guo3zi,  wan3shang4  si4ge4,   ni3men  shuo1  hao3bu4hao3?"  hou2zi men  ting1le  dou1 shuo1  bu4hao3,  jue2de  ta1 gei3de  tai4shao3le.  hou2zi  xian1sheng1  yu2shi4   xiao4zhe   shuo1: "na4me,  zao3shang4  si4ge,  wan3shang4  san3ge4,  hao3bu4hao3ne?"  hou2zimen ting1le,  ge4ge4   dou1hen3  gao1xing4,   dou1  shuo1  hao3.  "zhao1san1mu4si4"  zhe4ge4  cheng2yu3  jiu4shi4  cong2  zhe4ge4  gu4shi4  lai2de.  dan4shi4,  xian4zai4  zhe4ge  cheng2yu3  you3  te4bie2de  yi4si: "yi2ge4ren2  yi4hui3er   zhe4yang4,  yi4hui3er  na4yang4,  bian4lai2bian4qu4."

Translation


Long ago there was a man, who kept many monkeys. Everybody called him Mr. Monkey.  He knew the monkeys' temperament very well, and the monkeys could also understand what he said.   Mr. Monkey's monkeys are different from the other monkeys.  They didn't like to eat bananas or peanuts. They liked to eat a special kind of fruits instead.  Everyday they ate a lot of this fruit, which was very expensive.  Mr. Monkey didn't have enough money to buy that many for the monkeys. He intended to give them less, but was afraid that the monkeys would get mad at him. So he thought of an idea.

One morning, Mr. Monkey said to the monkeys: "From now on, I will give you three fruits in the morning and four in the evening. How is that?" Hearing this, the monkeys all said no, feeling he was giving too little.  Upon this,  Mr. Monkey smiled and said: "All right, I'll give you four in the morning, and three in the evening. Is it ok now?" All the monkeys were very happy to hear that and said ok.   The idiom "Three in the morning and four in the evening" came from this story. However, the idiom carries a special meaning now: a person acts like this now, but acts like that later, very changeable.

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