作法自斃(zuo4 fa3 zi4 bi4)
to fall foul of your own doing
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
More than a century before China was unified by the state of Qin, the chief adviser to the Duke of Xiao in Qin, Shang Yang, introduced legal and military reforms that transformed the state into a militarily strong meritocracy. It was his reforms that were to enable Qin to defeat the other feudal states and unify China in 221 BC. They also, apparently, contributed to his own death.
Shang Yang was born in 390 BCE in the state of Wei. He died in 338 BCE. After moving to Qin he ascended through the ranks, but some of his reforms put him on the wrong side of certain powerful members of the Qin aristocracy, whose powers he had weakened through his emphasis on meritocracy.
When Duke Xiao died, Shang Yang fled, but was captured after an innkeeper refused to allow him to stay, in compliance with a law Shang Yang himself had introduced, as he could not produce his identification papers. It is therefore said that he created the conditions which led to his own death.
The idiom 作法自斃 refers to falling foul of something of your own making.
In English we have the curious phrase “Hoist with one’s own petard.”
“Hoist” means to be lifted in the air; we still use it for raising — hoisting — flags.
A petard was a device in the shape of a small box, either conical or square, containing gunpowder, which would have been placed against a wall or door during a battle. It was essentially a bomb, with the blast directed in one direction, to breach a wall or blow open a door. Shakespeare gives Hamlet the line, “For tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar.” At the time, engineers were makers of military engines.
In the context of Hamlet, the “petard” is a letter instructing the king of England to assassinate Hamlet. Hamlet rewrites it to ask the king to kill the two men who delivered the letter: they were therefore hoist on their own petard. (Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
hoist with your own petard
成語「作法自斃」意指被自己的所作所為所牽制。在英語中，也有一個有趣的片語Hoist with one’s own petard。Hoist的意思是升起，我們現在說升旗，也常用這個字。Petard是裝炸藥的圓錐形或方形小盒子，在戰爭中用來放在牆或門邊。這種裝置基本上就是一種炸彈，它朝一個方向炸開，以爆破城牆或炸開城門。英國文豪莎士比亞筆下之角色哈姆雷特便有一句台詞說道:「For tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar。」在當時，軍用器械是由工兵製造的。
在哈姆雷特當時所說的那個「petard」指的是一封信，內容是指示英國國王將哈姆雷特暗殺。哈姆雷特改寫了此信，改成要英王殺了那兩個傳信的信差:因此這兩個信差就是 hoist on their own petard。
Pets are an inseparable part of people’s lives in the modern world. About 65 percent of US households have at least one pet. On a psychological level, pet companionship can bring better psychological wellbeing; on a biological level, our furry friends can boost human immunity. According to a report in Psychology Today, a review carried out by researchers from the UK’s University of Manchester found that the companionship of pets can result in better psychological wellbeing for people with mental health conditions. The diabetes research center of the University of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital analyzed data from over 3 million people,
A: Hello, I’d like to book a table for two please. For 7 o’clock, if possible. B: Certainly, sir. Let me see if I can fit you in. I’m afraid we’re fully booked at that time, but we do have a space at 8pm. A: No problem, 8pm will be fine. B: Thank you. I‘ve reserved you a table for two for 8pm. Just to let you know, we operate a “bring your own” policy for wine, and corkage is NT$50 per bottle. A: OK. See you later on. A: 你好，我想要訂位，兩個人，方便的話晚上七點。 B: 好的，先生。讓我看看能不能幫您安排座位。不好意思，我們那段時間的訂位滿了，不過晚上八點還有空位。 A: 沒問題，晚上八點可以。 B: 謝謝您。我幫您預約晚上八點，兩個人的座位。另外，提醒您本餐廳關於「自行帶酒」的規定，每瓶酒酌收新台幣五十元開瓶費。 A: 好的。我們晚點見。 （Edward Jones,
Let’s dine out tonight (3/5) 今晚我們去餐廳吃飯吧（三） A: Hmm. . . I can’t decide what to order. I’m hesitating between a lamb rogan josh or a beef vindaloo. B: Well, let’s order both and share the dishes. We can also order the tandoori king prawns that I was just eyeing up. A: The prawn dish will perfectly complement the bottle of Australian Chardonnay that I’ve brought along. It’s a great wine, with notes of peaches and lemongrass. B: Cool! Let’s also order some butter naan bread and pilau rice for two. A: 嗯……我無法決定要點哪一道菜。我正在猶豫要點喀什米爾羊肉咖哩，還是辛辣香料牛肉咖哩。 B: 啊，那我們兩個都點，然後分著吃吧。我們還可以點一份坦都里香料烤明蝦，我剛剛一直在看這道菜。 A: 這道明蝦應該能完美搭配我帶來的這瓶澳洲夏多內白葡萄酒。這瓶酒真的很棒哦，帶有桃子和檸檬草的香氣。 B: 酷！那我們也點一些奶油烤餅，和兩人份的香料米飯吧。 （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） WARNING: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage
Literary circles have been celebrating the legacy of late writer Eileen Chang, who would have turned 100 on Wednesday next week. Born in Shanghai, the legendary writer shot to fame in her 20s, and continued to write after moving to Hong Kong, and then the US, in the 1950s. Chang is one of the greatest female Chinese writers, and her classic works include Love in a Fallen City, The Golden Cangue, and The Red Rose and the White Rose. Many of her novels, such as Lust, Caution, were adapted into films and TV drama series. Based on Chang’s novel Aloeswood Incense