Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chengyu: Peng's Journey of Ten Thousand Miles


Peng's Journey of 10,000 Miles

Once upon a time, deep in the northern sea, there lived a giant fish known as the Kun. When there was a storm in the northern sea, the Kun leaped out of the water and magically transformed into a gigantic bird, the Peng. The wing span of the Peng was thousands of kilometers wide. When the Peng spread its wings, the wings were like the clouds in the sky. In one bound, the Peng could travel from the northern sea to the southern sea, on the other side of the world, 10,000 miles away.

This idiom describes a bright future, one with success and prosperity without undue duress. It is also used to wish someone success with their endeavors. 

Why not send someone a wish of encouragement, a wish for Peng's journey of 10,000 miles. 

An idiom is an expression that is not meant to be taken literally. For example, in English, we often use the expression "It's raining cats and dogs". Obviously, we don't take this expression literally, we come to learn that it means it's raining hard outside. 

Though the Chinese have many proverbs and idioms, Chengyu are formalized idioms, usually using only four characters and relating to folktales, classical literature, and historical accounts. The four characters typically state a moral, and in order to properly understand their meaning, it is important to know the story behind them. There are at least 5,000 Chengyu. 


To learn about Chinese idioms is to gain another insight into the Chinese culture, their mores, and their history. We will be learning Chengyu, and their related stories, regularly for the rest of our "year in China". I believe the insights we'll gain will highlight many universal facets of human nature within their cultural context.

2 comments:

  1. I love these, and I'm so pleased you explain what they mean because I would not have got that meaning from that idiom!

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    Replies
    1. This one is a bit obscure :) I love reading the stories behind the idioms, and finding myself using one or another (most often Lute to a cow)

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