Monday, 18 July 2011

Chinese Sayings No.5

杯盘狼藉 (bēi pán láng jí)

To find out what this idiom means, why don't you just copy the Chinese characters, go to Google, select 'Image search' and see what comes up? (This is a sneaky trick of the bilingual lexicographer or even of a language-curious non-lexicographer who wants to find out the meaning of something in a foreign language)

The 'literal' meaning of this idiom is something like "cups and plates scattered all over the place" (although the Chinese word bēi can stand for glasses too, so this is not just an unruly teaparty)

The idiomatic meaning is 'the scene after the feast', ie a sign that everybody has just had a very good evening. In an idiomatic English reading of it, you'd think of it as "what the kitchen looked like the morning after the party". But in China all carousing is done in a restaurant, so the mess would be cleared away within the hour.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Mr Gillard, I really like your site. I have taken a linguistic class before and your blog is as interesting as the class. :)