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有奶便是娘

English translation: He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages

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11:04 Jul 12, 2008
Chinese to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings / Common Usage
Chinese term or phrase: 有奶便是娘
This phrase/sentence is usually regarded a disparaging expression. The translations provided by Yahoo!Dictionary are:

1. The person who feeds me with milk is my mother.
2. One obeys those who give him money or power.

I am somehow unsatified with these two translations. Could anyone provide some other insightful translations for this phrase/sentence? It could be most interesting to know how Chinese natives understand or interpret the phrase/sentence.

Thanks in advance!
Wenjer Leuschel
Taiwan
Local time: 13:34
English translation:He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages
Explanation:
从某种程度上来说,上述英文谚语可以对应该汉语习语。

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Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:15:47 GMT)
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具体用起来,可适当予以微调。

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Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:29:27 GMT)
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或者也可以说:Anybody is his master who can give any favor to him, 而圣经有云:"Ye cannot serve two masters" [Matthew 6:24],正可说明这种人为人所齿。
还看到有人说:"lick the hand of anyone who throws one a few crumbs"、“whoever suckles one is one's mother "、"submit to whoever feeds one",似乎也可接受。

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Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:32:09 GMT)
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“为人所齿”应为“为人所不齿”。

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Note added at 15 hrs (2008-07-13 02:08:34 GMT)
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anthonyjoellee, language is always developing and very few idioms, apothegms or sayings would keep their original meanings forever. For most of these fixed expressions, most people wouldn't even know where and how they originated. Just like the Chinese fixed phrases "付之东流", "仙山琼阁","高屋建瓴", so on and so forth, no original literal meanings would remain unchanged. I once read some investment stuff, the author first gave a warning of "don't be too greedy" or the like, followed just by the expression "He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages", and then proceeded with something like "if you are too greedy you will not succeed", so contexts and perspectives do matter in expressions.
Selected response from:

orientalhorizon
Local time: 13:34
Grading comment
Though God and the devil could be the same one for some people, it is well said with "better wages."
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4whoever suckles one is one's motherxxxAJL MedCom
4He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages
orientalhorizon
3 +1mercenary
M. Mayfield
3(one is always) seeking masters who will offer benefits.Ritchest
4 -1self-servingDarren Wright
2 +1Follow the hand that feeds you
Jason Young


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages


Explanation:
从某种程度上来说,上述英文谚语可以对应该汉语习语。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:15:47 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

具体用起来,可适当予以微调。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:29:27 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

或者也可以说:Anybody is his master who can give any favor to him, 而圣经有云:"Ye cannot serve two masters" [Matthew 6:24],正可说明这种人为人所齿。
还看到有人说:"lick the hand of anyone who throws one a few crumbs"、“whoever suckles one is one's mother "、"submit to whoever feeds one",似乎也可接受。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:32:09 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

“为人所齿”应为“为人所不齿”。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 15 hrs (2008-07-13 02:08:34 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

anthonyjoellee, language is always developing and very few idioms, apothegms or sayings would keep their original meanings forever. For most of these fixed expressions, most people wouldn't even know where and how they originated. Just like the Chinese fixed phrases "付之东流", "仙山琼阁","高屋建瓴", so on and so forth, no original literal meanings would remain unchanged. I once read some investment stuff, the author first gave a warning of "don't be too greedy" or the like, followed just by the expression "He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages", and then proceeded with something like "if you are too greedy you will not succeed", so contexts and perspectives do matter in expressions.

orientalhorizon
Local time: 13:34
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese
PRO pts in category: 12
Grading comment
Though God and the devil could be the same one for some people, it is well said with "better wages."

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  xxxAJL MedCom: the apothegm here illustrates the sacriligious intent of serving god which is better spent serving the devil. God does not reward money, nor should one seek it in one's devotion.The source idiom describes a person who is mercenary in his devotion to men.
14 mins
  -> sure, a sentence can be viewed in different perspectives. Nobody should serve God for money, if he do, he will also serve Devil, since Devil will treat him more favorably in monetary terms.

agree  Michael Lickorish: A person who is mercenary will serve God and the devil.
13 hrs
  -> Thank you very much!
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16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Follow the hand that feeds you


Explanation:
或者:Like the hand that feeds you (考虑到与被篡改英文的压韵问题)。
大胆一试,请批评指教。

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Note added at 16 hrs (2008-07-13 03:52:23 GMT)
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or perhaps "kiss the hand that feeds you";
or "shake the hand that feeds you" if the situation is in a more positive way

Jason Young
China
Local time: 13:34
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Michael Lickorish: Yes, also hold the hand that feeds you.
57 mins
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20 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): -1
self-serving


Explanation:
The previous translations are too antiquated or not commonly in usage in current spoken English. Jason's answer doesn't seem to be a disparaging remark, but rather an admonishment. Oriental Horizon's answer is too Bible-based. This is a fairly common Chinese phrase that, from my understanding, simply means someone who is disloyal because they are always looking for whatever will benefit them. I cannot think of an exact "idiom" to fit this meaning, but I hope this explanation helps a bit. Good luck!

Darren Wright
United States
Local time: 23:34
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  xxxAJL MedCom: I have no idea what you are onto as to Jason's comment being an 'admonishment' or 'disparaging' but 'whoever suckles one...' is certainly not 'antiquated'---all idiomatic phrases are antiquated, you just don't make any sense.
4 hrs
  -> I said that it is not disparaging. If you are confused and do not udnerstand what disparaging or admonishment mean, ask me first before slapping a negative comment onto my remarks. This is not helpful at all for the asker of this question.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
whoever suckles one is one's mother


Explanation:
Orientalhorizon's addendum is the correct target phrase. All credit should be given to him.

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Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 12:59:58 GMT)
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Orientalhorizon, the meaning of an idiom cannot be interpreted by different perspectives, certainly not apothegms or parables--or there would never be a uniform definition we can adhere to (we won't know how to use the idiom). God has nothing to do with one's mercenary devotion to MEN, not one's devotion to any other supernal or metaphysical existence.

Wenjen: "Whoever suckles one is one's mother" does not implicate that the breast feeder is one's biological mother. There are wet nurses, strangers---one can be breast fed from goats, pigs, horses, dogs even, depending on where you live. The meaning is there, and describes the volatility and venal character of one who can call another his mother simply by being breast fed, as long as there is milk.

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Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-12 13:03:16 GMT)
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有奶便是娘=比喻趨利附勢,誰能給好處即願聽從,為之效勞。如:俗語說:有奶便是娘誰能給他好處,他就為誰辦事。只要有奶就叫他娘



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Note added at 3 hrs (2008-07-12 14:04:41 GMT)
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I don't understand how the ProZ localisation process is related to my proposed answer?

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Note added at 7 hrs (2008-07-12 18:06:21 GMT)
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Ah, I see now. It would seem to be the case, as freelancing means sole proprietorship---or working mercenarily to cater the needs of many clients rather than remaining faithful to one "mother", so to speak.

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Note added at 15 hrs (2008-07-13 02:16:43 GMT)
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Michael Lickorish while it is true that a mercenary will serve both god and the devil, the source text has no recourse to either metaphysical existences. The source text pertains to the mercenary devotion to MEN and MEN alone.

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Note added at 15 hrs (2008-07-13 02:22:40 GMT)
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Orientalhorizon though word usages evolve over time, idiomatic phrases do not. Etymological sources are only subjected to ignorance and collective amnesia. Please consult Fowler's Modern English Usage and "Tzi-hai" (Word Sea, or Chinese Etymology Dictionary).

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Note added at 1 day3 hrs (2008-07-13 14:20:14 GMT)
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Darren, I have perfect knowledge over the two words you misused. Neither words make any sense with respect to Jason's proposed answer, which was why I 'slapped' a negative rating on you.

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Note added at 1 day3 hrs (2008-07-13 14:24:39 GMT)
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I have also no qualms over protecting my proposed answer, as it is not mine, but Orientalhorizon's addendum. If credit should be given, it should be given to him, as I have said before (please make anote of this Wenjer). Self-serving itself is just not descriptive of the idiomatic phrase required, self-serving is a compound adjective, NOT an idiomatic phrase.

xxxAJL MedCom
Canada
Local time: 01:34
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4
Notes to answerer
Asker: 老实说,我问这个问题是要解开一个疑惑:没有好处,人还能活着吗?每个人诚实地为了好处工作,这有有什么不对。既然选择了当婊子,还要惺惺作态要别人给他立牌坊,那才可耻。比方说,有些同事来信说,他们来到这个网站一直没有找到什么客户,想了解一下我是如何得到项目的。我于是鼓励他们参加这个网站的汉语在地化,我的经验是,参加在地化,虽然是无偿的工作,但无论做多少都会让业者注意到你参加了这样的工作,让你选择的工作机会自然增加。最近不是有人鼓励大家“齐心赚世界人民的钱”吗?那么,有志赚世界人民钱的同事不妨仔细阅读以下这个链接的讨论: http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/45425-%E9%80%99%E4%B8%80%E5%89%87%E6%96%B0%E8%81%9E%E5%80%BC%E5%BE%97%E6%B3%A8%E6%84%8Flocalization_made_progress_at_prozcom.html 爹娘不给你奶喝,那还叫爹娘?!

Asker: By the way, if there is any volunteer jobs which can lead to 好处 or have 好处 in prospect, I would suggest everyone to grasp the opportunities. It helps you procuring clients definitely. Since one is not allowed to do advertisement except putting a profile here, why not seizes the opportunities and makes oneself known to the industry?

Asker: Just 借题发挥一下. Never mind. I wanted to say that there is nothing wrong with 有奶便是娘 because a lot of people profitted from this website and it can well be 娘.

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1 day20 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
(one is always) seeking masters who will offer benefits.


Explanation:
(one is always) seeking masters who will offer benefits.

Ritchest
Local time: 13:34
Native speaker of: Chinese
PRO pts in category: 15
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1 day15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
mercenary


Explanation:
the relevant definitions (American Heritage Dictionary) being
(adj) Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain
(n.) One who serves or works merely for monetary gain; a hireling

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Note added at 1 day15 hrs (2008-07-14 02:32:51 GMT)
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I see that Michael Lickorish used the word above in his comment to Jason Young's answer.

For an idiom, perhaps "knows which side his/her bread is buttered" or "does not want to bite the hand that feeds him/her".

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Note added at 7 days (2008-07-19 15:57:31 GMT) Post-grading
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I cannot fathom the mental space this man (W. L.) appears to inhabit. How he goes from 奶奶 to the devil is a mystery to me.

M. Mayfield
United States
Local time: 00:34
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4
Notes to answerer
Asker: Would you care to know how to fill up the space between 奶奶 to the devil? I propose a Powwow Meeting with the title "How to Handle Bigger Projects" last September which was cancelled for I had to go over to China for a onsite project. I will propose the same Powwow Meeting in Taipei soon. Your participation would be highly welcome and we could talk about this issue as well.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Michael Lickorish: knows which side his/her bread is buttered
48 mins
  -> Thanks, Michael
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