Author Archives: Cesar Valladares

Idiom/Proverb – China


“Hypocritical – Contradictory”

“A spear and shield”

Shanling told me that she learned this Chinese idiom when she was in Chinese school in Denver, Colorado. She told me that it refers to a story well know in China about some person that was a hypocrite. The story is about a salesman from the past that sold weapons in China. One day he was advertising that he had a spear that could travel through anything, it was a perfect spear. Also, he had in his possession a perfect shield; the shield could stop any weapon that was launch at it. Someone asked the salesman what would happen if he threw the perfect spear into the perfect shield. He was stunned and did not answer the question. She told me that this salesman is a perfect example of a hypocrite. Shanling first heard the idiom form her mother. One example is when she got offered an internship at Boeing and was struggling whether she should take it or not. She wanted and needed the money but did not want to work for it; she just wanted to get money for doing nothing. Then her mother told her that she was being just like the salesman that sold a spear and shield. She thinks that this is a perfect lesson for students to learn and that the idiom is perfect to use when someone is a hypocrite.

I agree with Shanling with the use of this idiom. The Salesman is being a hypocrite as he is advertising two contrary perfect things. They can not both be perfect, if one shall use the perfect spear against the perfect shield one of them has to break and this will reveal the lies coming from the salesman. This is a great example how some people can be two-sided only to benefit themselves. This idiom can help people realized when they are being hypocrite. However, one needs to know the story in order to relate the two together. If the story is not known, the idiom will not make any sense. This idiom could probably only be told to people from China or people that are familiar with that Chinese story. Once, they know the story, making the connection between the salesman and hypocrisy will not be too complicated.

Idiom – China


“Frog at the bottom of the well”

Shanling told me that she learn this idiom from her mother. She first heard it in Denver, Colorado, but she thinks that her mom first heard it in China. She told me that there is a small story behind the idiom and that most Chinese people know the story. She said that there once was a frog that lived in the bottom of a well. He was all by himself and he thought that he ruled the Earth. One day, someone threw a bucket down and the frog was able to go up to the surface. Once he reach the top, he was able to see that he was not the ruler of the world and that there is a bigger world that yourself. She told me that this is usually told to people that are know-it-alls and don’t see the big picture. Shanling told me that her mom tells her this whenever she is full of herself and seems not to care about anything else.

I agree with Shanling’s definition to the idiom, if you do not stick your head out of the “well” you will be left out to believe that you are the most important thing in this world. This teaches us a good lesson that we should always try to be aware of our surrounding and situations that happen outside our reach. I think that the best situation to use the idiom is when people see themselves as kings in order to bring them down to reality. One good example of this can be seen in the performing shows like American Idol. Some people that are bad signers are from small cities and towns and they think they are the best singer. They are probably the best singers in their area but when they are brought to the big stage and put in front of real judges they hear reality for the first time. They do not accept the comments made by them and get mad at the show and at the judges. They need to come out of their small world and accept that they are not as good as they thought they were.

Proverb – China


“Green comes from Blue”

Shanling told me that she learned this proverb/idiom when she was in Chinese school in Denver, Colorado. She said that she first heard it when she was about 14 years old and was learning how to snowboard. According to Shanling, the proverb signifies when a pupil has surpasses his master at one activity. The master is symbolized by the color blue and the student by the color green. When a teacher (blue) has taught his knowledge to his pupil, the pupil will become like him so it becomes green. Also, according to Shanling, the color green is more beautiful according to Chinese culture so that is why it is said that the student has surpassed the master. One example that she gave me was when she was learning how to snowboard. She said that after just a couple of days of lessons from her friend she got so good that her friend told her that she might be better than her. She told me that her friend said that she learned quickly because “green come from blue.” She likes the idea that green is more beautiful than blue and that is why she think the proverb means that the pupil has surpassed the master.

I think I agree with Shanling to some details, but other details are no so clear. I do agree that green come from blue can be a good representation of a teacher – pupil situation. The teacher is giving knowledge to the student and this will shape the student to be more like the teacher. However, the part that I do not understand is why they are inquiring that the pupil has surpasses the master. In my opinion, the master stays as the dominant person because blue is a primary color while green is a secondary color. This proverb can be use in many situations nowadays. We have many situations where teachers are trying to shape students to become just like them, if not better. This happens not only intellectually but also in sports and politics. This proverb tells7 students that it they try hard enough they can become almost like their teacher and in some rare situations better than them.

Proverb – Vancouver, Canada

“A stitch in time saves nine”

Joanne told me that she learned this proverb from her mom who likes to saw and knit a lot. The first time she heard this proverb was when she was about eleven years of age and at that time she was living in Vancouver, Canada. She said that it is used to express that it is better to plan ahead and start early if there are signs of trouble instead of waiting for disaster to happen. She told me that her mom used to say this proverb to her to give her advice that some early work can go the extra mile. She also said that it is used to tell people that they should take care of a problem now instead of later when it might be too late. One example she gave me was when her mother’s friend had a small problem with her car. She heard her mother told the friend to have the car checked before it was too late. The friend did not reacted and she ended up paying a much higher price because of that.

This proverb has a special meaning for me as I always end up procrastinating and have to pay a higher price as a consequence. I have to agree with her meaning of the proverb as well. If one does not take care of problem in an early stage, when they are easier, they might have to work double or triple the amount to solve the same problem. For every one stitch that you not complete, you will have to do nine later on. This is a perfect proverb to be given to procrastinators; they have to see that putting minimal effort can help them a lot in the future. It can be said to many taxpayers that wait until the night of April 15 to do their taxes. If they had planned ahead and done some work earlier, they would not be in the whole they are now.

Annotation: this proverb can also be found in the online book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing.

Wills, Lydia. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing. Lynda Stephenson, Inc NetLibrary. Page 93

Legend – Kelowna, Canada

The Legend of Ogo Pogo

I have heard people say that in the Okanagan Lake, Kelowna, BC Canada, there is a creature that is like a serpent and like a dragon. He lives way down in the caves of the deep water. It has been sighted for about 100 years, but I have never seen it. It is quite large; many people said that this creature is huge. Some people even describe him as being a cousin of the loch ness monster.

Joanne told me that this is a very common legend told around her town and other towns that surround the Okanagan Lake. She said that she first heard the legend recently after moving to Kelowna. She told me that the legend is usually told to tourist of the lake and the area in order to increase tourism. There are also some statues of what the creature is portrayed in a surrounding park. She says that although she has not seen it she still believes that the creature exists and she also believes that the loch ness monster exist as well. They are creatures that are strong and have survived all these years.

Although, it is an interesting legend I would have to say that I think that it is not true. I think that someone that had visited Loch Ness or knew about Loch Ness monster saw an animal or a creature in the Canandian and thought that he saw the same familiar monster. This legend is very familiar to the Loch Ness monster and it might have just migrated to this area, it is just an oicotype of the Loch Ness monster. The reason why I think that this monster is not real is that the first sighting was later than the Loch Ness monster and it just borrowed the idea, it was not really sighted. Other than that, I am sure that they are using this legend in order to attract some tourist and give the lake a little more personality.