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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gives a speech on Feb. 10, 2014 in New York City.

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Chinese Practice


(shui2 zhang3 chuan2 gao1)

when the water level goes up, all boats rise

英文片語a rising tide lifts all boats一般多認為出自美國前總統甘迺迪於一九六三年發表的演講,意指經濟好時,經濟體中所有人皆可受惠。甘迺迪的演講撰稿人泰德索倫森在其後曾表示這個片語並非甘迺迪或他所創,而是他幾年前在一個地方商會的信紙上看到的。甘迺迪在演講上使用了這個片語,但不是這個片語的創始人。

A rising tide lifts all boats這個說法至今已有至少一世紀的歷史,在美國一九一○年代出版的宗教書報中額為常見。這個片語看似源自於某個臨海的漁村,同樣的濱海意境,與在其一千年前出現的中文成語「水漲船高」有異曲同工之妙。




(After this singer became very popular, his whole band became really famous, too, and now lots of record companies are looking to poach them.)


a rising tide lifts all boats

Former US president John F. Kennedy is often credited with the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats,” from a speech he made in 1963. The phrase is understood to mean that favorable economic conditions will improve the lot of all participants in that economy. His own speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, later debunked the idea that Kennedy — or he himself for that matter — had come up with the phrase, noting that he had seen it on a regional chamber of commerce letterhead some years earlier. Kennedy did use it, but it didn’t originate with him.

There are numerous references to the phrase in print in religious publications dating to the 1910s in the US, making the phrase at least a century old. You would expect it to have originated, perhaps, in a coastal fishing community. A similar mental image certainly occurred to another writer in a different place and at a different time: in China, 1,000 years ago.

During the Song dynasty, in the year 1004AD, the monk Shi Daoyuan published a book called Complete Record of the Transmission of the Lamp, a record of Ch’an (Zen) masters and other prominent Buddhist monks. In it appear the words 「水長船高,泥多佛大」, meaning “when the water rises, the boats are lifted high; the more clay there is, the larger the Buddha [statue]. The idiom 水漲船高 is now used to express the idea that when a person or object advances, so do the people or things that rely on them. Interestingly, the second part of the phrase, 泥多佛大, can be used as an idiom in its own right, a reference to the importance of support for the success of a venture.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

The growing poverty gap in many countries suggests that a rising tide does not, in fact, lift all boats.


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