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Chinese Idiom: Making a Fool of Oneself When Trying to Be Smart (Intermediate)

May. 20, 2011

弄巧成拙 (nòngqiǎochéngzhuó) Making a Fool of Oneself When Trying to Be Smart

Key Learning Points (Preview):

画画 (huàhuà) v. to paint/ draw

 

着色 (zhuósè) v. to color

 

Běisòng shíqī, yǒu wèi huàjiā jiào Sūn Zhīwēi.
北宋        时期,  有   位   画家   叫   孙   知微。

 

During the Northern Song Dynasty, there was a painter named Sun Zhiwei, who also taught painting.

Yí cì huàhuà shí, péngyou qǐng tā qù yǐnjiǔ.
一次   画画     时, 朋友      请   他 去 饮酒。

 

Once while he was teaching a class, his friends invited him to go drinking.

Tā duì dìzǐmen shuō: "zhè fú huà zhǐ shèngxià zhuósè.
他 对  弟子们     说:“这 幅 画 只     剩下        着色。

 

He said to his students: "All that is left is to color the painting.

Wǒ huílái shí, xīwàng nǐmen yǐjīng huà hǎo le."
我   回来   时,希望     你们    已经  画 好   了。”

 

When I return, I hope you will have finished."

Sūn Zhīwēi zǒu hòu, yígè jiào Tóng Rényì de dìzǐ shuō:
孙      知微   走   后,一个 叫     童    仁益 的 弟子 说:

 

After he left, a student named Tong Renyi said:

"Lǎoshī zǒng yào zài píng zhōng huà yìzhī xiānhuā, kě zhècì què méiyǒu.
“老师    总    要    在 瓶      中      画 一枝    鲜花,可 这次   却    没有。

 

"Our teacher always adds a flower, but this time he did not.

Yéxǔ shì láibùjí huàhǎo, wǒmen háishì huàhǎo le zài zhuósè ba."
也许 是 来不及 画好,    我们    还是    画好    了  再   着色   吧。”

 

Maybe he didn't have time to finish it. We might as well complete the flower first."

Yúshì, Tóng Rényì huà le yìzhī hóng liánhuā.
于是, 童    仁益    画 了 一枝      红莲花。

 

And so he added a red lotus.

Sūn Zhīwēi huílái shí shuō:
孙     知微    回来   时  说:

 

When he came back, Sun Zhiwei said:

"Zhè běn shì zhènyāopíng, nǐmen què bǎ tā biànchéng le huāpíng."
“这 本   是      镇妖瓶,     你们     却   把 它    变成     了    花瓶。”

 

"The vase was originally a "Zhen Yaoping," which keeps away demons. Now you have turned it into an ordinary flower vase."

Shuō zhe, bǎ huà sī le gè fěnsuì.
说       着,把 画  撕了 个 粉碎。

 

As he said that, he tore the painting into pieces.

Nòngqiǎochéngzhuó jiùshì bǐyù zìzuòcōngmíng zuò le duōyú de shìqíng
弄巧成拙                    就是 比喻   自作聪明         做 了 多余   的   事情     
fǎn'ér shǐ qíngkuàng biànde gèng zāogāo.
反而   使 情况            变得       更      糟糕。

 

"Making a fool of oneself when trying to be smart " means that extra efforts perceived to be helpful may make matters worse.

Key Learning Points:

画画 (huàhuà) v. to paint/ draw

 

Chinese people like to "画画" with a brush and ink.

Example:

Tā zuìdà de àihào shì huàhuà.
他 最大   的 爱好   是   画画。

 

His greatest passion is to paint.

着色 (zhuósè) v. to color

 

"着色" means to decorate a picture with color.

Example:

Tā yòng huáng làbǐ gěi huà zhuósè.
他 用      黄      蜡笔 给 画     着色。

 

He colored the picture with a yellow crayon.

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Comments

This is a nice story but I cannot seem to find the idiom itself anywhere in the post. What is the changyu for this?

Hi, thanks for concern. The chengyu for this story is 弄巧成拙 (nòngqiǎochéngzhuó).

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