Friday, October 14, 2011

与虎谋皮 Asking Tigers for Their Skin

This idiom is originally known as "Asking Foxes for Their Skin", but since Fox (狐, hú) and Tiger (虎, hǔ) in Chinese have very similar pronunciations, it gradually changed into "Asking Tigers for Their Skin". It refers to requesting somebody to act against his own interests.


左丘明回答: “请让我先给您讲一个故事。从前有一个人, 他很喜欢穿昂贵的衣服,吃美味的食物。有一天,他想要一件狐狸皮袍子,于是就和狐狸商量说:‘把你们的毛皮送给我几张吧。’ 狐狸一听,就全逃到山里去了。又有一天,他想用羊肉做祭祀,于是去找羊说:‘请帮帮我的忙,把你们的肉割下二斤,我准备祭祀,没等他说完,羊就吓得哇哇乱叫;互相报信,一齐钻进树林里藏了起来。这样,那人过了十年也没做成一件狐狸皮袍子,五年过去了也没办法用羊肉做成一次祭祀。


chuan2shuo1  zai4  zhong1guo2  chun1qiu1  shi2qi1,  lu3guo2de   guo2wang2  xiang3  ren4ming4   kong3zi3   zuo4   si1fa3  bu4zhang3.  dan4shi4   dang1  ta1  xiang4  shou3xia4de   da4cheng2  xun2wen4   yi4jian4shi2,   que4  mei2you3  yi2ge4ren2   zhi1chi2   ta1.  lu3guo2   guo2wang2  gan3dao4  hen3   kun4huo4,  jiu4  dui4   zuo3qiu1ming2   shuo1: "kong3zi3  shi4  yi2ge4  hen3you3  de2xing2de   ren2,  xue2wen4  ye3  hen3hao3,   dan4shi4   wei4shen2me   ren2men   dou1  fan3dui4  wo3  ren4ming4   ta1   zuo4   bu4zhang3   ne?"

zuo3qiu1ming2   hui2da2 : "  qing3  rang4wo3  xian1   gei3 nin2  jiang3yi2ge4   gu4shi4. cong2qian2 you3  yi2ge4 ren2. ta1  hen3  xi3huan1   chuan1   ang2gui4de   yi1fu2,   chi1   mei3wei4de   shi2wu4.   you3yi1tian1,  ta1  xiang3yao4  yi2jian4  hu2li pi2  pao2zi,  yu2shi4  jiu4he2   hu2li   shang1liang  shuo: "ba3  ni3mende   pi2mao2   song4gei3  wo3  ji3zhang1ba."  hu2li  yi4ting1, jiu4 quan2   tao2dao4   shan1li3  qu4le.   you4  you3  yi4tian1, ta1  xiang3yong4   yang2rou4   zuo4  ji4si4,  yu2shi4   qu4  zhao3  yang2  shuo1:"qing3  bang1bang1  wo3de  mang2,   ba3  ni3mende  rou4  ge1xia4  er4jin1,  wo3  zhun3bei4   ji4si4,  mei2deng3  ta1  shuo1wan2,   yang2  jiu4  xia4de   wa1wa1  luan4jiao4,  hu4xiang1  bao4xin4,   yi1qi3   zhuan1jin4   shu4lin2li3   cang2le  qi3lai2.  zhe4yang4, na4ren2  guo4le   shi2nian2  ye3  mei2   zuo4cheng2   hu2li  pi2  pao2zi,  wu5nian2   guo4qu4le    ye3  mei2  ban4fa3  yong4  yang2rou4  zuo4cheng2  yi2ci4  ji4si4.

zuo3qiu1ming2   jie1zhe   jie3shi4: "hao2wu2  yi2wen4,   kong3zi3  shi4yi2ge4   cheng2shi2   zheng4zhi2  deren2,  dan4shi4   ru2guo3   ta1  bei4  ren4ming4   zuo4le   bu4zhang3,  hen3duo1ren   jiu4hui4   yin1wei4   zuo4de   huai4shi4   li2kai1   ta1men2de   guan1wei4,   nin2  qu4  he2  zhe4xie1ren2   shang1liang4,  jiu4  xiang4  wen4  hu2li   yao4   pi2,   wen4   yang2  yao4  rou4  yi2yang4,  nin2  zen3me   neng2  qi1wang4   ta1men   zhi1chi2  nin2  ne?"

Legend has it that in the Spring and Autumn period of China, the king of the state of Lu wanted to appoint Confucius as the Attorney General, but no one supported him when he asked his ministers for advice. Puzzled by this, the king said to Zuo Qiu Ming (the state historian of Lu), "Confucius is a man of great character, he is also a learned man, but why does everybody object to my making him the attorney general?"
Zuo Qiu Ming replied:"  please allow me to tell you a story first. Once upon a time, there is a man who loves to eat delicate food and wear expensive clothes. One day, he wants a fox fur coat, so he comes to foxes, asking them to give him their skin, at which all foxes run into the deep mountains. Another day, he wants some mutton as sacrifice, so he comes to sheep, asking them:" please help me, and cut two pounds of your flesh for me because I'm going to offer sacrifice." Before he can even finish talking, all the sheep are so scared that they all run together into the woods to hide,  screaming and nonifying each other. As a result, the man has not got a fox fur coat for ten years. Five years have passed and he still has not got mutton for sacrifice for once."
Zuo Qiu Ming went on to explain: "  there is no doubt Confucius is a honest and upright man, but if he were to be appointed as the Attorney General, many officials would lose their position for their misconduct. These officials are just those whom you ask for opinions. It is simply like asking foxes for their skin, asking sheep for their flesh. How can you expect them to support you?"

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