Early Bird Gets the Worm


“As I say before, there is a proverb that conflicts with the one about the bird getting shot, and that is:

Chinese: 早起的鸟儿有虫吃
Phonetic: Zǎoqǐ de niǎo ér yǒu chóng chī
Transliteration: Early bird gets worm.
Translation: The early bird gets the worm.

which means early bird gets the worm. I don’t know I just think it’s interesting how they are contradictory. But also, these phrases come from, like, some dude from four thousand year ago, who was probably super racist or something.”


Informant (ZZ) is a student aged 19 from Shanghai, China. He attended high school in the U.S. and currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over dinner in the dining hall. He learned this proverb in school from a school book containing old Chinese proverbs. He doesn’t really care much for its meaning.


This proverb demonstrates how wisdom can change within a culture over time. As (ZZ) mentions, this proverb conflicts with another proverb previously mentioned. Proverbs and wisdom can change within a culture and can vary significantly.