(xin4 kou3 kai1 he2)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
foolish or uninformed verbiage
關漢卿（約西元一二四一～一三二O年）是備受推崇的元代劇作家及詩人，被西方人稱為「中國的莎士比亞」。莎士比亞的稱號是「the Bard of Avon」（埃文河畔的的吟遊詩人），關漢卿則號為「己齋叟」。
在英文中，類似的意思可用「full of hot air」表達。如果我們說某人「full of hot air」，意思就是說這人喋喋不休地談論他並不真正理解的事，或並非為真的事。此語的歷史並不特別久遠，出處不詳。有人說「full of hot air」首次出現是在一八七三年的小說《鍍金時代》，此書為馬克‧吐溫和查爾斯‧達德利‧華納所著，書中有此一句：「The most airy schemes inflated the hot air of the capital.」（最虛幻的計畫讓首都的熱氣更加膨脹）。然而，對於這是否真為「full of hot air」的出處，筆者仍然存疑。
(Certain politicians spout nonsense, criticizing their opponents with little evidence to back up their claims, but many voters are taken in, regardless.)
(He’s like that: with a few drinks inside him he starts talking nonsense and making wild claims about himself, so nobody takes what he says seriously.)
full of hot air
Guan Hanqing (c. 1241–1320), a highly regarded playwright and poet from the Yuan Dynasty, has been referred to as “the Chinese Shakespeare.” While the latter has been given the sobriquet “the Bard of Avon,” Guan is referred to as jizhaisou, “the old man of the studio.”
Among the 65 plays Guan wrote — and of the 14 that are still extant — is baodai zhi zhi zhan lu zhailang, translated as The Wife-Snatcher in English, and set in the Song Dynasty. For our purposes here, the pertinent characters are Lu Zhailang, a corrupt senior official, essentially untouchable as he was on friendly terms with the emperor; Mr. Li, a silversmith, and his wife; Zhang Kongmu, a minor official and his wife; and Bao Zheng, a historical Northern Song official renowned for his honesty.
In the play, Lu takes a fancy to Li’s wife and snatches her for himself; Li, in shock, collapses by the roadside and Zhang goes to his aid, marking the beginning of a close friendship between the two men. Later, Lu sees Zhang’s wife and, enraptured by her beauty, forces Zhang to send her to him, trading her for Li’s wife, whom he has presumably tired of. One day, Li visits Zhang, and recognizes his wife in Zhang’s home; the two are reunited and Zhang, seeing their joy — and despondent about his own circumstances — leaves his material belongings to the newly reunited couple and goes off to be a Taoist monk. Subsequently, Bao intervenes and engineers Lu’s conviction and eventual execution. In the play, Zhang — in the Taoist temple — delivers a monologue to the audience, explaining that he nevertheless remains unpersuaded it is a good idea to return to society. He says 你休只管信口開合，絮絮聒聒。俺張孔目怎還肯緣木求魚，魯齋郎他可敢暴虎馮河 (Enough of the foolish talk, if you will: returning to my family would be like climbing a tree to catch a fish, and Lu Zhailang would not have been as brazen as to look for me here, anyway.)
That sentence contains several idioms: 暴虎馮河 (tackling tigers unarmed; wading rivers unaided) was described in Using Idioms on Aug. 6, last year; 緣木求魚 (to climb a tree to catch a fish) — meaning “to attempt an impossible or pointless endeavor” — will feature in Using Idioms next week. The phrase 信口開合 — a visual metaphor describing the mouth opening and closing — is used to mean “foolish talk,” or speaking without first thinking something through.
The last character in the phrase 信口開合 was later replaced by the homophone 河 (river), to give us the idiom used today, 信口開河, changing the visual metaphor of a mouth opening and closing to one of a river gushing from the mouth, accentuating the idea of a torrent of nonsensical verbiage. It is used nowadays to suggest that someone is mouthing off about things they are ill-informed about, or unqualified to comment on.
In English, a similar sentiment is captured in the phrase “full of hot air.” If we say somebody is full of hot air, we mean that they are talking about things they don’t really understand, or about things that are not entirely — or even remotely — true. The phrase is not an especially old one, and its origins are unclear. Some say that its first citation is in the 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, in which appears the phrase “The most airy schemes inflated the hot air of the capital.” As to whether that is actually the origin of the phrase “full of hot air” in any meaningful sense, I remain unpersuaded.
(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
I wouldn’t listen to his advice, if I were you. He’s full of hot air, and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
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