Write Chinese Zodiac Icon 蛇 shé Snake

How to read and write the character 蛇. Several common words about snake: 眼镜蛇 cobra 响尾蛇 rattle snake 美女蛇 beautiful villainness 蟒蛇 python, boa 毒蛇 poisonous sna...

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Comment by Ruaridh Maxwell/麥儒叡 on July 12, 2012 at 2:20am

I suppose another good translation for 美女蛇 would be "seductress" or "femme fatale".  I wonder, can you use the term 蛇 in Chinese the same way you'd use it in English? (i.e. a callous, scheming, untrustworthy individual, often referred to as a "snake in the grass")

Comment by Iris on July 12, 2012 at 11:22am

Thanks 麦儒锐 for your suggestion of the better translation. I don't have a lot of memory about using the term 蛇 in Chinese as in English.  美女蛇 may be one of the example. Another example is 蛇头, which literally means the head of a snake.  蛇头 is used to describe people who smuggle other people who want to go abroad illegally, and gain money through this illegal deal.

There is also an idiom 心如蛇蝎, which means the heart is like snake and scorpion. Snake and scorpion are both creepy poisonous creature in most people's mind. So this idiom is used to depict a devil like person.

Comment by Ruaridh Maxwell/麥儒叡 on July 12, 2012 at 6:37pm

I see.  In the UK, we've had quite a few problems with 蛇头 smuggling people into the country from around the world with promises of a good job, but then selling them to other criminals to use as slaves. 

There was one very sad incident in Lancashire (northwest England) back in 2004, where 21 illegal immigrants from China died after becoming trapped by the rising tide whilst gathering cockles (a kind of small, edible clam) for a 蛇头.  Here's the BBC report on the outcome of the trial.


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