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Do You Know Your Cantonese Proverbs?

By Localiiz 3 March 2014
March 3rd 2014 Creative minds always find the most unique ways to express complex ideas. Graphic Designer 阿塗(Ah To) has created this intricate artwork entitled 'The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs', depicting 81 Cantonese proverbs in one crowded frame. How many do you recognise?

Source: Passion Times

  While his work is based on the 1559 painting of Netherlandish proverbs by Dutch artist Pieter Brueghel, Ah To has bought the idea up to date with a more cartoony feel. He hopes to encourage Hong Kongers to learn these proverbs and preserve them for years to come.

'Netherlandish Proverbs' - Source: Francisco Serrador

  Here are just 10 of the proverbs in Ah's image with English translations (courtesy of writecantonese8) , to help our Cantonese inept viewers (and ourselves!):

1. 呃鬼食豆腐 (cheating the ghost to eat bean curd) - to lure someone into a trap, to trick someone - used to express skepticism or disbelief, “you’re kidding me!”

2. 扮鬼扮馬 (to masquerade as a ghost and as a horse) - to play a role to deceive somebody- to play a part to trick someone

3. 飛象過河 (fly an elephant across the river) - to break a rule - to reach across the table for food (a reference to the rules of Chinese chess)

4.老貓燒鬚 (old cat burns its whiskers) an expert who makes a careless mistake in their own expertise.

5. 甩繩馬騮 (loose string monkey) - a very naughty child - someone no longer under the control of their superior or guardian.

6. 鬼食泥 (a ghost eats mud) to slur your words

7. 食拖鞋飯 (to eat slippers rice) used to describe a man who is supported by a woman, i.e. he can keep his slippers on, because he doesn’t have to work.

8. 豬籠入水 (pig basket enter water) - to have many different ways to make money - to have money coming from many different enterprises or sources.

9. 黑狗得食白狗當災 (the black dog gets the food, the white dog gets the punishment) somebody benefits by their wrongdoing, while another person gets the blame.

10. 牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低 (if a cow doesn’t want to drink, you can’t force its head down) if someone is unwilling to do something it is not possible to force them; you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.


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