Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 9 News List


A crocodile’s eye, by Dutch photographer Alias 0591.
《鱷魚的眼睛》,荷蘭攝影師Alias 0591攝。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese practice


(mao1 ku1 hao4 zi5)

the cat weeps for the dead mouse




然而,幾世紀以來,「weeping crocodile tears」被用來指偽善者表達虛假的情感,或在敵人遭遇不幸時表示悲傷。




(Sure, cry those crocodile tears. I know you love schadenfreude.)


(These politicians voted against the bill, and still they say they have sympathy for our position. They’re just shedding crocodile tears.)


to weep crocodile tears

Christopher Columbus was apparently inspired by the 14th century eponymously-named book The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Mandeville is quoted in John Ashton’s 1890 book Curious Creatures in Zoology as describing the crocodile — or “cockodrill,” as Mandeville spelled it — thus: “These serpents sley men, and eate them weeping, and they have no tongue.”

This idea that crocodiles cry as they eat their prey is actually an ancient belief that found its way into many European languages by way of Latin.

It is true that crocodiles do have lacrimal glands and can produce tears, but there is no suggestion that they cry through emotion, and certainly not through some kind of conflicted remorse at having to slay such a complex creature as a human being to nourish their own bodies. The reason crocs “cry” is probably more to lubricate their eye following long periods out of the water or, in the case of saltwater crocodiles, to wash away excess salt.

Nevertheless, for centuries the concept of “weeping crocodile tears” has been used to refer to hypocrites showing insincere displays of emotion, or expressing grief when an enemy encounters misfortune.

In Chinese, there is the idiom 貓哭耗子, literally “the cat weeps for the dead mouse,” and this has exactly the same connotation: that there is a deep suspicion of the authenticity of the emotion expressed. It originally appears in the book Five Little Heroes by the Qing dynasty storyteller Shi Yukun, writing in the 19th century, just a little before Curious Creatures in Zoology was published.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

I can’t believe the hypocrisy of that man. He’s not really upset: those are crocodile tears he’s crying.


Oh, yeah, I know you can put on the waterworks, but I can tell crocodile tears when I see them.


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