Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 9 News List

USING IDIOMS 活用成語

Old Fisherman, 1902, by Tivadar Kosztka Csontvary.
《老漁夫》,一九○二年,提瓦達‧柯斯卡‧充瓦利作。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

Chinese Practice

渾水摸魚

(hun2 shui3 mo1 yu2)

to fish in turbulent waters

「三十六計」是一組多以四字成語命名的軍事戰略集,作者不詳,或推為南朝宋國武將檀道濟(生年不詳,卒於西元四三六年)所作。「三十六計」所引用的戰事主要為戰國時期(西元前四七五~前二二一年)及三國時期(西元一八四/二二○年~二八○年)的戰役。對於三十六計的記載最早見於《南齊書‧王敬則傳》中,南齊(西元四七九~五○二年)王敬則將軍的一句話。有人認為王敬則所說的「三十六」計,並非指一個具體的數字,他只是用數字六的平方來指軍事計策的數量──「六」這個數字在《易經》中的意思是「眾多」。

無論如何,現存的三十六計包括六篇(除序言之外),每篇有六個成語,一共代表三十六種戰局。大致來說,前三篇是在有利己方的情勢中可採取的策略;而後三篇則是在對己不利的情況下可採用的策略。

在四月十六日的「活用成語」單元,我們介紹了成語「釜底抽薪」(從鍋底抽掉柴火),這也是三十六計第四篇「混戰計」的第一個成語。該篇第二個成語為「渾水摸魚」(字面意思是在攪混的水中捕魚,「渾」亦作「混」)。

三十六計中對「渾水摸魚」的解釋是「乘其陰亂,利其弱而無主」,意思是在敵營製造混亂,趁其脆弱和迷失方向時下手。此計所指的混亂,是由攻擊方或第三方所造成,而非直接肇因於敵營本身的弱點。東漢末三國時代將領周瑜(西元一七五~二一○年)在西元二○八年赤壁之戰這決定性的一役中,便是用此計打敗了軍閥曹操。

渾水摸魚幾乎可直接替換為英文「To fish in troubled waters」。無論此語起源為何,它最初以英文「To fish in troubled waters」記載下來是在一五六八年,用來表示趁著局面混亂來佔便宜。此語可能是在指趁一家公司遭遇困境時,用低價來收購該公司的股票。

把水弄渾濁來提高捕到魚機會的計謀並不是什麼新點子,《伊索寓言》有則故事即為一例。《伊索寓言》傳為古希臘一位名叫伊索(西元前六二○~前五六四年)的奴隸所作。在〈漁夫〉這則寓言中,村民們抗議一個漁夫把溪流的水弄混濁了──這溪流是村民飲用水的來源;漁夫回答說他必須把水給攪混,這樣他才能夠把魚趕進他的漁網。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)

你按下同意條款時最好要讀一讀內容,小心業者用一堆文字遊戲混水摸魚,把你的隱私權給出賣了。

(You should really read the contents before clicking on the “agree” button and be careful that the business doesn’t intend to sell your privacy by using opaque wording to disguise their true intentions.)

他常在上班時間打線上遊戲、逛購物網站,這混水摸魚的行為終於被老闆識破了。

(He often plays online games and browses online shopping Web sites while at work, but the boss finally saw through his unscripted behavior.)

英文練習

to fish in troubled waters

The sanshiliu ji (Thirty-six Strategems) is a collection of Chinese idioms related to military strategy, believed to have been the work of unknown provenance, or Tan Dao-ji (?-436 AD), a general in the predominantly referenced battles dating to the Warring States (475-221BC) or Three Kingdoms (184/220–280AD) periods of ancient China. The fact that 36 were included in the collection comes from a quote attributed to General Wang Jingze from the Southern Qi Dynasty (479-502AD), cited in the Biography of Wang Jingze of the Book of Qi. When Wang spoke of 36 strategems, he was not talking about a specific number: He was merely using the square of six, a number associated in the yi jing with military strategy, to mean “numerous.”

That notwithstanding, the collection, as it has been received, is divided into six chapters (in addition to a preface) of six proverbs each, related to 36 battle scenarios. In general, the first three chapters are concerned with strategies to take from an advantageous position; the last three chapters with those to take from a position of disadvantage.

On April 16, Using Idioms looked at 釜底抽薪 (to remove firewood from under the cauldron), the first idiom in Chapter 4, 混戰計 (the Chaos Strategems), of the sanshiliu ji. The second idiom in that chapter is 渾水摸魚 (literally to fish in turbulent waters, also written as 混水摸魚).

The explanation for this idiom in the sanshiliu ji is 乘其陰亂,利其弱而無主, meaning to exploit the enemy’s vulnerability and disorientation by sowing confusion among them. Implicit is the idea that the chaos is caused by oneself or a third party acting independently of oneself, and is not a direct result of the enemy’s inherent vulnerabilities. The Eastern Han Dynasty general Zhou Yu (175–210) famously used this technique to defeat the warlord Cao Cao in the decisive Battle of Red Cliff of 208 AD.

There is a near direct English alternative to 渾水摸魚: To fish in troubled waters. Wherever it came from originally, the phrase “fish in troubled waters,” first recorded in English in 1568, is used in the sense of trying to take advantage of a confused situation. It might be used to refer to acquiring undervalued stocks when a company is going through a bad patch.

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