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KudoZ home » Chinese to English » Poetry & Literature

朝三暮四

English translation: chop and change

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Chinese term or phrase:朝三暮四
English translation:chop and change
Entered by: Wenjer Leuschel
Options:
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10:37 Nov 27, 2008
Chinese to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / Common Expression
Chinese term or phrase: 朝三暮四
This expression come from a story written by ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi. Its meaning has been undergone several changes since its origin.

"狙公賦芧,曰:「朝三而暮四。」眾狙皆怒。曰:「然則朝四而暮三。」眾狙皆悅。名實未虧,而喜怒為用,亦因是也。"

Translated into modern Chinese: "養猴人分橡果給猴子,說:「早上給你們吃三升,晚上給你們吃四升。」猴子們聽了很憤怒。養猴人就改口說:「那麼就早上吃四升,晚上吃三升。」猴子們聽了都非常高興。「朝三暮四」與「朝四暮三」名目及實質上都沒有減少,喜和怒卻因各有所用而產生了變化,也是同樣的道理。"

Comment and question: 最近台湾的政府说是要刺激消费,原先计划发行“消费电子卡”,后来改成印制“消费券”,全国国民在春节前一人发3600元的消费券,等于是政府给人民的过年红包。大家都很高兴。可是,偏偏有人说,政府举债8000亿元做这件事,等于是全国人民每个人先负债将近3万5千元来领取3600元,那几乎是10:1的比例,怎么划得来呢。众猴子们才不管那些,早上先拿4颗橡果再说,至于将来必须爬上橡树为主人摘40颗,那也许是别的笨猴子必须做的事,但不会轮到聪明的猴子头上。这种情况也可以称为“朝三暮四”。How to translate this expression into English properly?

TIA!
Wenjer Leuschel
Taiwan
Local time: 19:15
chop and change
Explanation:
《中国成语选粹》中的翻译是:Three in the morning, four in the evening: chop and change. 仅供参考。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 hrs (2008-11-27 21:05:19 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

这个翻译在我看来没有揭示愚弄欺骗目的的含义,只是说明多变。chop and change译成汉语是‘变化无常、摇摆不定’的意思。你如果很想要一个揭示愚弄欺骗目的含义的翻译,不妨再等等,方便集思广益。
Selected response from:

xxxtianshandun
Canada
Local time: 07:15
Grading comment
The meaning of this expression has been migrating from one to another in the course of time and has already lost its original meaning as Zhuang Zi intended to say: 骗猴子 with the same thing. However, the popular meaning in the meantime is "chop and change."
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +2chop and changexxxtianshandun
4Catch-22
Jason Young
3 +1play fast and loose with, blow hot and cold]
Yurek
2arbitrarily inconsistent
Jacqueline How


Discussion entries: 6





  

Answers


1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
play fast and loose with, blow hot and cold]


Explanation:
FYI

Yurek
China
Local time: 19:15
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxtianshandun: 《汉英词典》中的翻译是这样的,外加chop and change.
12 mins
  -> thanks
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Catch-22


Explanation:
Or "A catch-22 situation"

Catch-22 is a term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, describing a paradox in a law, regulation or practice in which one is a victim regardless of the choice one makes[1].
http://www.answers.com/topic/catch-22

或者直译:
1. You make a fool of yourself if you believe that 3+4 brings you more than 4+3 does.

2. Three in the morning plus four in the evening means the same thing the other way around.

供参考。

Jason Young
China
Local time: 19:15
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks. However, giving 3 in the morning and 4 in the evening or the other way around is to deceive people by pleasing them. It is different than a catch-22 situation in which people do not have any choice. Or, do you see any similarity?

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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
arbitrarily inconsistent


Explanation:
i know "play fast and loose" or "chop and change" are the standard explanation of 朝三暮四, so this is just a try. Usually we describe such pattern of doing things as being inconsistent:promise one thing and give another, and such government act as being arbitrary: changing certain rules/ways of doing things without the consent of the people.

And in this case I believe Taiwan government is being arbitrarily inconsistent. The deceiving motive(as in 朝三暮四), though is not indicated in "arbitrary" or "inconsistent", it could only be an extended notion, or assumption.

Jacqueline How
Malaysia
Local time: 19:15
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks. However, I would say the way of doing such things as giving 4 in the morning and 3 in the evening, instead of 3 in the morning and 4 in the evening, is not arbitrarily inconsistent. It is calculated and meant to please "monkeys" to achieve certain purpose.

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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
chop and change


Explanation:
《中国成语选粹》中的翻译是:Three in the morning, four in the evening: chop and change. 仅供参考。

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 hrs (2008-11-27 21:05:19 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

这个翻译在我看来没有揭示愚弄欺骗目的的含义,只是说明多变。chop and change译成汉语是‘变化无常、摇摆不定’的意思。你如果很想要一个揭示愚弄欺骗目的含义的翻译,不妨再等等,方便集思广益。

xxxtianshandun
Canada
Local time: 07:15
Native speaker of: Chinese
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
The meaning of this expression has been migrating from one to another in the course of time and has already lost its original meaning as Zhuang Zi intended to say: 骗猴子 with the same thing. However, the popular meaning in the meantime is "chop and change."
Notes to answerer
Asker: I like this one, but does "chop and change" imply the deception to achieve the purpose behind?

Asker: To chop is to overturn suddenly. Such sudden changes are not without reason. I guess, the Chinese expression has been misused in the course of time since its coinage. The main point lies in Zhuang Zi's comment: "名實未虧,而喜怒為用,亦因是也。"


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Helen Li
1 hr
  -> Thanks.

agree  Da Best
20 hrs
  -> thanks.
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