Proverb – China

A good friend of my family’s is a very successful business man.  He travels a lot between China and the United States for business.  Most business men these days are some what required to know a little of the Chinese language just to make things easier for themselves when they are abroad.  Charlie Wyatt is practically fluent in Chinese because he is not only a business man in China but also has a personal relationship with a Chinese woman in China.  This woman encouraged Charlie to learn her language so it would be easier for them to communicate.

When he first, started learning the language he would tell us all the new words that he was learning.  The words were simple, like “hello” or “thank you”, but then he became much more confident.  So confident, that when we talked to us (only English speakers) he would say the words so quickly, slurring them all together.  We all thought that he was not speaking completely correctly, but did not want to say anything.  However, one night he was talking to his girlfriend in China, on the phone, and we realized that he spoke much differently.  He spoke slower, and pronunciated more carefully.

After that night we confronted him, and made fun of him.  We told Charlie that his ego for speaking Chinese had become to large.  He laughed, admitting that he knew it had.  He also responded by telling us a Chinese proverb that he had learned form his girlfriend, because she had also noticed that his confidence level had risen.  We laughed at how ironic it was that he had learned a proverb, in his new language, that was perfectly fitting for him.

CHINESE:  jia? b?ng bì baì

LITERAL TRANSLATION: arrogant soldier certain be defeated

TRANSLATION: the arrogant army will definitely lose the battle

In conclusion, this proverb means that if a person is over confident or arrogant about their abilities, in the end, they will fail.  If the army believes that they are the best and will win the war, they are setting themselves up for failure.  The army just needs to try their hardest and realize that they are going to do the best with their abilities.

The same is true with Charlie.  He began to believe that he had “conquered” the Chinese language, but in reality he was just at the beginning.  He girlfriend humbled him by informing him of what the Chinese believe by this proverb.