Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 9 News List


Illustration of the trait of greed in the 1845 publication Cent Proverbes. The caption reads “Qui trop embrasse mal etreint,” or “He that grasps at too much loses all.”
一八四五年出版的《片語一百句》插圖,圖中的法文句子Qui trop embrasse mal etreint,意為想想要一次抓住太多東西的人反而會失掉全部。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese Practice


covet a little, lose a lot

(tan1 xiao3 shi1 da4)



這個概念也可直接轉譯為英文片語「covet a little, lose a lot」。另外,它也可以一句古諺語「penny wise and pound foolish」轉譯,儘管此句之意有些許不同,較著眼於眼前立即得到的利益,而忘記更重要、更長遠的利益。(台北時報編譯林俐凱譯)


(In order to save up loyalty points to redeem for gifts, he bought a pile of stuff he simply had no need for, and even maxed out his credit card. Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.)


covet a little, lose a lot

penny-wise, pound-foolish

In the book New Discussions of Master Liu, thought to be by the Northern Qi thinker Liu Zhou — although that attribution is debated — there is a curious story about the origins of the Stone Cattle Road that led between the westernmost ancient state of Qin and Shu in modern day Sichuan. As the story suggests, this road played a major part in the former’s conquest of the latter, which history assures us occurred in 316 BC, around a century before Qin went on to conquer the rest of its rival states and create a unified China. In the story, Liu Zhou is more interested in the moral than the history. It goes as follows.

The Marquis of Shu was known for his greed. King Hui of Qin, who had plans to conquer Shu, heard of this and determined to take advantage of it. There were paths leading to Shu, but they were too treacherous or narrow for getting an army through. The Qin army carved five large oxen out of stone, claimed that the oxen would excrete golden cowpats, and left the statues on the road for the marquis to take. The marquis duly ordered a wide road to be opened up, and for five strong men to go and carry the stone oxen to Shu. His fate was thus sealed, as the Qin army were able to speed to Shu. The story ends by saying that, for the sake of trivial gains, the marquis lost his state and his life, and became an object of derision. The last phrase of the story is 「以貪小利失其大利也」— “for the sake of greed for small gains he lost greatly” — and from this we get the proverb「貪小失大」.

A direct translation of this idea can be found in the English phrase “covet a little, lose a lot.” It is also translated as the old proverb “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” although this has the slightly different meaning of focusing on immediate gains and forgetting more important — perhaps long-term — ones.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

Closing the doors indiscriminately on all immigration is a bit penny-wise and pound-foolish, is it not?


Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top