Chinese Idiom: 揠苗助长 (yàmiáozhùzhǎng) “Impatience Spoils The Results”

So I was out with my Chinese tutor last week. We were having a great time learning about comparisons and weather patterns, etc. But then in the middle of the lesson, she said something that I didn’t understand at all. Not. A. Word. I kept asking her to repeat it more slowly, again, and again. But I just couldn’t get it… twas seemingly hopeless! And very frustrating.

It’s easy to get arrogant when learning a new language and I tend to celebrate at every small accomplishment. But on the flipside, it’s also easy to get quite frustrated when you don’t understand the simplest thing. Oh well.

On this occasion, with a smile on my face, I voiced my frustration to my tutor: “Why is it taking so dang long to learn this dang language!?”

Also with a smile, she answered by teaching me a Chinese proverb. Here is that proverb…

 

揠苗助长

(yàmiáozhùzhǎng)
“Impatience Spoils The Results”


古时候宋国有个农夫,种了稻苗后,便希望能早早收成. 每天他到稻田时,发觉那些稻苗长得非常慢.

(gǔ shíhou sòng guóyǒu gè nóngfū, zhǒng le dào miáo hòu, biàn xīwàng néng zǎozǎo shōuchéng. Měi tiān tā dào dàotián shí, fājué nàxiē dào miáo zhǎng de fēicháng màn)

Once upon a time, an old farmer planted a plot of rice. Everyday he went to the field to watch the seedlings grow. He saw the young shoots break through the soil and grow taller each day. But still, he thought they were growing too slowly.

 

他等得不耐烦,心想:“怎么样才能使稻苗长得高,长很快呢?” 想了又想,他终了想到一个“最佳方法”,就是将稻苗拨高几分. 经过一番辛劳后,他满意地扛锄头回家休息.

(tā děng dé bù nàifán, xīn xiǎng:“Zěnme yàng cáinéng shǐ dào miáo zhǎng dé gāo, zhǎng hěn kuài ne?” Xiǎng le yòu xiǎng, tā zhōngliǎo xiǎngdào yīgè “zuì jiā fāngfǎ”, jiùshì jiāng dào miáo bō gāo jǐ fēn. Jīngguò yī fān xīnláo hòu, tā mǎnyì dì káng chútóu huí jiā xiūxí.)

He got impatient with the young plants. “How could the plants grow faster?” He tossed in bed during the night and could not sleep. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head! His idea could not wait until daybreak. He jumped out of bed and dashed to the field. Under the light of the moon, he began working on the rice seedlings. One by one, he pulled up the young plants by half an inch. When he finished pulling, it was already morning. Straightening his back, he said to himself, “What a wonderful idea! Look, how much taller the plants have grown in one night!” With great satisfaction, he went back home.

 

然后回去对家里的人表白:“今天可把我累坏了,我帮助庄稼苗长高一大截!” 他儿子赶快跑到地里去一看,禾苗全都枯死了.

(ránhòu huíqù duì jiālǐ de rén biǎobái:“Jīntiān kě bǎ wǒ lèi huài le, wǒ bāngzhù zhuāngjia miáo zhǎng gāo yī dà jié!” Tā érzi gǎnkuài pǎo dào dì li qù yī kàn, hémiáo quándōu kūsǐ le.)

In a triumphant tone, he told his son what he had done. His son was shocked! By this time, the sun had risen, and the young man was heart-broken to see all the young plants dying.

 

人们现在用拔苗助长形容急于求成,违法客观规律,只会把事情办坏.

(rénmen xiànzài yòng bámiáozhùzhǎng xíngróng jíyú qiú chéng, wéifǎ kèguān guīlǜ, zhǐ huì bǎ shìqíng bàn huài.)

People now use “ya miao zhu zhang” to describe the behavior of those who are too eager to get something done, only to make it worse.


Time to give my Chinese tutor a raise!

(image by StockProject1)

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