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Chengyu fascinate me, though I only really know about two or three (mèng mǔ
sān qiān, duì niú tán qín, wù měi jià lián are the only I recall...). I
think it's interesting that they're specifically set to four characters.

http://www.chinese-tools.com/chinese/chengyu/dictionary/all.html
http://www.chinese-chengyu.com/

Zach

On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 8:18 PM, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> --- On Mon, 10/15/12, Patrick Dunn <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > Another source of much inspiration is the Chinese chengyu, or four word
> > phrase.  These are idioms that almost always have four characters (so not
> > necessarily four words -- in fact, in translation, usually many more) and
> > are often abbreviations or allusions to famous pieces of literature.  For
> > example
>
> These have been mentioned before and seem like a fascinating area of folk
> wisdom. Do you know of an accessible source that collects (and perhaps even
> organises) chengyu and also interprets them with their accompanying story?
> I understand there are thousands of accepted chengyu, so any collection
> would necesarily be quite large. Have these even been much studied in Da
> Qin?
>
> Of course, we have the same phenomenon in English as well, and perhaps
> other languages as well, though perhaps not so well codified. And of
> course they're not always four words. Like "pot kettle black" or "the die
> is cast". Like with chengyu, one needs to know the context giving story in
> order to understand the meaning of the set phrases.
>
> > *sān rén chéng hǔ  (Three men make a tiger)*
> > *
> > *
> > Literally, this is nonsense, but it's an allusion to a story
> > about a report
> > of a tiger bothering a distant village.  One person
> > reporting it might be
> > rumor, two might still be rumor, but if three people report
> > it, it gets believed.
>
> Made perfect sense to me, though in North America we might say "bear" or
> "coyote" in stead of tiger... I'd be hard to pressed to believe the
> third man who said he saw a tiger around here, or would be more likely to
> believe he went to the zoo. Now, a bear, that I'd believe!
>
> > In the original story, this was a parable about how people will
> > believe an absurd thing if enough people repeat the lie.  So now it's
> > used in similar situations.
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_men_make_a_tiger
>
> This aspect of the chengyu is of course lost without knowing this
> particular story. My natural interpretation aligned with the above story.
>
> I guess the American version would be a false friend!
>
> > You could have something similar, if develop a few short
> > stories from your culture and then translate key phrases into your
> > conlang.
>
> Indeed. These are common bits of sawyery in the World. For example, on
> pots calling kettles black, there is this gem from Angera, in the western
> vales of Auntimoany:
>
> One time there was a very fine house in the country and a very rich earl
> called Hoght and he lived there with his wife and family and all his
> household. He was not only very rich, but he was also very proud. So
> proud indeed was Hoght that when he came to the City, he went around with
> his nose in the air as if he could scarcely deign to breathe the same air
> as the people in the street around him.
>
> This pride of  the earl's was terribly infectious. Not only was the earl
> proud, but so too were his wife and his children. And not only was his
> family proud, but so were his servants and household. The earl's footmen
> regularly pushed their way though a crowd and bossed merchants and citizens
> alike as if they too were mighty lords; and in the house, the earl's
> kitchen staff were terribly proud. The maids would regularly brag about
> all the gold they had to polish and Cook always shoved everyone else
> out of the way at market, even if she wasn't buying. She always took the
> best quality vegetables and meat available. Even the cook of the poor old
> bishop was left to make do with second rate victuals.
>
> And in that same earl's Kitchen there lived a brass teapot and a broad
> copper stew kettle. The broad kettle was always busy, taking care of the
> many stews and soups that Cook made in a day. He was a humble sort of
> kettle, always black on the outside from the scorching fires blazing away
> in the heart of the roaring great cast iron stove; but he was justifiably
> proud of the delicious stews he helped cook and he always kept his inside
> scrubbed and shiny.
>
> Now, the brass tea pot was terribly vain and always kept herself shiny and
> bright, like the golden samovar that she so envied and who served out at
> Table. She only had to work hard maybe an hour a day, whenever her
> ladyship desired to take a cup of tea, and so she had much time to
> daydream about life outside the Kitchen.
>
> One day, the wooden spoons, ever the garrulous lot, got into an argument
> over the merits of serving at Table out in the Hall, like the shiny golden
> spoons. The stock spoon and the ladle thought twould be ever so dandy,
> having a white-gloved footman buff and shine one up, but the long handled
> soup spoon, who often worked with the copper kettle, felt sure that life
> in the Kitchen was good enough for any wooden spoon and was content with
> her lot.
>
> The stock spoon and the ladle laughed at that: "Ho ho! Will yez hark at
> that gennle fowks! Good enough, eh? Well friend, zòme of uz iz lookin to
> move up in this yer world and make something more of uz zelvez and
> wouldn't mind a-tall havin a  go out to Table!"
>
> At this point, the brass tea pot, who was merrily bubbling away on one of
> the back burners, piped up and said: "Oh will ye list at them two old
> splinters of wood! The two of ye serve at Table? What rot! Now, Ae make
> the Tea for our distinguished Ladyship, as ye well know, while the two of
> ye do what? Oh yes, ye stir up that sludgy gravy Cook makes for the meat.
> What drudge! Now Ae thinks Ae knows just a bit more about the refaened
> life outside these doors than ever ye will! The cheek, thinking that two
> old cracked wood spoons could serve in the place of shiny utensils like the
> gold spoons, or even not at all unlike maeself! Huh. Ye two are ever as
> mucky as yon old stew kettle!"
>
> "Bull feathers!" burbled the usually taciturn water cistern, a great glass
> and copper affair that skulked about in the corner of the Kitchen, from
> which he could see and hear everything that went on in the place. "Thee
> should look to thyself, old brass tea bucket!" (She recoiled at being
> called a "bucket" as if that were the worst thing one could be called,
> and immediately started whistling indignantly.) "Whistle away, mistress
> Pot! Thou's no different as any of us here in Kitchen. Ain't no shame in
> that, but none o us is ever goin to serve at Table, we being nowt but
> umble beins o copper and brass and wood. And here's the proud brass Pot
> callin the Kettle black, puttin on airs when she should look at her own
> black bottom some time!"
>
> Everyone in Kitchen from the butter tuns to the ancient iron frying pan
> hanging from his pin on the wall had a laugh at the haughty tea pot's
> expense, for indeed it is as the Wise say: the fool puts on airs and seeks
> to condemn his neighbor for the speck on his face all the while neglecting
> the broad smudge on his own face. For indeed when the pot calls the kettle
> black, he is seeking to convince others of his own superiority  even when
> the facts themselves speak contrarywise.
>
> Padraic
>
>
>
> > On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 5:29 PM, Nicole Valicia
> > Thompson-Andrews <
> > [log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I meant sayings and slang expressions.
> > >
> > > Emerging poet
> > > Pen Name Mellissa Green
> > > Budding novelist
> > > tweet me
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > GreenNovelist
> > >
> > > blog
> > >
> > >
> > > www.theworldofyemora.**wordpress.com<
> http://www.theworldofyemora.wordpress.com>
> > >
> > >
> > > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Nikolay Ivankov"
> > <[log in to unmask]
> > > >
> > > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > > Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 8:16 AM
> > > Subject: Re: Yemoran Expressions
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >  That's the question that make people like me come
> > to the conlang list.
> > >> Because Your question may actually be interpreted
> > as "how do I create a
> > >> language?". And since the whole list is functioning
> > for such a long lime,
> > >> with different people of different ages,
> > nationalities and views still
> > >> have
> > >> plenty of stuff to discuss for so many years, this
> > question could not be
> > >> answered lightly.
> > >>
> > >> As a novice in that, I can recommend learning a new
> > language. It's the
> > >> easiest way to become on par with the terminology.
> > Also, every new
> > >> language
> > >> you learn gives you new unexpected insights. For me
> > learning Japanese was
> > >> a
> > >> mind-blowing experience, and though I have almost
> > forgotten this languages
> > >> within the years that passed since then, it has
> > strongly influenced me
> > >> and,
> > >> finally, led me here.
> > >>
> > >> One could have also suggested reading some more
> > theoretical works, but I'm
> > >> afraid they are seldom available as audiobooks or
> > even in a format that
> > >> could be read by a voice-generator. I'm definitely
> > not sure, but I had to
> > >> take the books I needed from the library, for they
> > are also quite
> > >> expensive. I hope that this may be different with
> > the language courses -
> > >> in
> > >> the end, in most more or less big cities it is
> > always possible to just
> > >> attend one.
> > >>
> > >> Once you get familiar with basic constructions and
> > how they vary in
> > >> different languages, you have much more space for
> > imagination. And that's
> > >> when you may start to fancy, how such and such
> > phrase may sound in your
> > >> conlang. Here, again, we all have much freedom.
> > Language itself is a piece
> > >> of art, just like a novel or a verse. Other people
> > can give advises, share
> > >> common patterns, but that's it.
> > >>
> > >> Sorry, if my e-mail was not helpful. That is as
> > much as I can suggest.
> > >>
> > >> Best luck with Yermona!
> > >>
> > >> Kolya
> > >>
> > >> On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 8:13 AM, Nicole Valicia
> > Thompson-Andrews <
> > >> [log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> > >>
> > >>  How do I create Yemoran expressions?
> > >>> Emerging poet
> > >>> Pen Name Mellissa Green
> > >>> Budding novelist
> > >>> tweet me
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> GreenNovelist
> > >>>
> > >>> blog
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> www.theworldofyemora.**wordpress.com<
> http://www.theworldofyemora.wordpress.com>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> >
> >
> > --
> > Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now
> > available for
> > order from Finishing Line
> > Press<
> http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>
> > and
> > Amazon<
> http://www.amazon.com/Second-Person-Patrick-Dunn/dp/1599249065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324342341&sr=8-2
> >.
> >
>
>
>


-- 
ra'aalalí 'aa! - [sirisaá! <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conlang>]