Mon, May 29, 2017 - Page 9 News List


1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese practice


(sha1 ji1 qu2 luan3)

kill the chicken to get the eggs


(jie2 ze2 er2 yu2)

drain the pond to get the fish




(In order to cope with changes in the industry, many traditional industries are ignoring the need for change, and are instead just exploiting workers and going in for price wars, which is very short-sighted.)


(There is only one Earth. We shouldn’t be overcultivating the land and overfishing, exhausting our natural resources just for the sake of our immediate interests. We should be concentrating on sustainable development.)


kill the goose that lays the golden eggs

The idiom 殺雞取卵 actually derives from a Western story: one of Aesop’s Fables, to be exact. The story goes that a man found that one of his geese had laid a golden egg. Every day a new one would be waiting for him. He would sell the eggs in the local market, and soon became rich. Not satisfied, he began wondering how much money he would make if he opened up the goose and removed all of the gold at once. He killed the goose, and looked inside. The goose was a normal bird. Except it was now dead, and there would be no new eggs laid for the man to sell. The fable is a story of greed and stupidity.

A similar Chinese idiom comes from the yi shang chapter of the Warring States period encyclopedic text lushi chunqiu (Annals of Master Lu). In this chapter, there is a line which says, “if today you drain the pond, will you not get everything there is? But next year, there will be no fish. And if you burn the marshes, will you not get everything there is? But next year, there will be no animals to hunt. If today you lie and cheat, what won’t you be able to steal? But will you be able to repeat your lies next time? This is not the way to plan for the long-term.” This idea, of the wisdom of leaving something for later and a caution against short-sighted greed, is summed up in the idiom 竭澤而漁, the first phrase of the line, and literally “drain the pond and get the fish.”(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

Until digital photography transformed the industry, photographic film was regarded as a bit of a golden goose for imaging products manufacturers.


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