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Chinese Idiom: 卧冰求鲤 To Lie on the Ice to Look for Carp (Advanced)

May. 6, 2011

As Mother's Day is coming, we prepared a Mandarin Chinese story for this special day. It is a story about filial piety. In traditional Chinese culture, filial piety is the most important of all the virtues to Chinese people. Although society has changed a lot recently, filial piety is still an important part of Chinese culture.

"卧 ()" means to lie; "冰 (bīng)" means ice; "求 (qiú)" is to seek or to look for; "鲤()" refers to a kind of fish, the carp. The idiom "卧冰求鲤 (wò bīng qiú lǐ)" means to lie on the ice to look for carp.

Key Learning Points (Preview):

卧 (): v. to lie


求 (qiú): v. to seek


Learn the Mandarin Chinese Idiom Story for Mother's Day: 卧冰求鲤 (wò bīng qiú lǐ)


Jìncháo yǒu yí gè jiào Wáng Xiáng de niánqīng rén, zǎo nián sàng mǔ.
晋朝       有  一 个 叫    王      祥      的    年轻    人, 早   年    丧    母。


In the Jin dynasty, there was a young man named Wang Xiang whose mother had passed away when he was very young.

Jì mǔ bìng bù cí'ài.
继 母 并   不 慈爱。


His step-mother was not kind to him.

Yì nián dōngtiān, Wáng Xiáng de jì mǔ shēngbìng xiǎng chī lǐyú.
一 年    冬天,     王        祥    的  继 母      生病      想   吃 鲤鱼。


One winter's day, Wang Xiang's step-mother became ill and wanted to eat carp.

Dàn yīn tiān hán héshuǐ bīngdòng, wúfǎ bǔzhuō.
但    因 天    寒     河水   冰冻,       无法   捕捉。


However, it was impossible to catch fish because the river was frozen.

Yúshì, Wáng Xiáng biàn wò yú bīng shàng dǎogào.
于是, 王      祥    便     卧   于    冰    上      祷告。


So Wang Xiang lied on the surface of ice in the river to pray to god to send him carp.

Hūránjiān, bīng liè kāi le, cóng lièfèng chù yuè chū liǎng tiáo lǐyú.
忽然间,  冰    裂 开 了, 从    裂缝    处   跃   出    两   条  鲤鱼。


Suddenly, the ice cracked and two carps jumped out of the water.

Tā gāoxìng de pěng zhe lǐyú huí qù zuò tāng gěi jì mǔ hē.
他   高兴      地 捧    着 鲤鱼  回 去   做   汤   给 继 母 喝。


He went home happily with the two carps and made soup for his step mother.

Hòulái, Wáng Xiáng xiàojìng mǔqīn de jǔdòng, zài fùjìn de cūnzhōng chuánwéi jiāhuà.
后来,   王       祥       孝敬    母亲   的   举动,在 附近 的     村中        传为      佳话。


From that day, the filial deeds of Wang Xiang became the talk of the nearby villages.

Key Learning Points:

(): v. to lie


It has the same meaning as "躺 (tǎng)" in Mandarin Chinese. However, "躺" is more frequently used than "卧" in modern Mandarin Chinese to indicate sb. lies on sth..


Qǐng tǎng zài chuáng shàng.
请     躺    在      床       上。


Please lie down on the bed.

(qiú): v. to seek


In modern Mandarin Chinese, 求 (qiú) is often used with other characters. So nowadays, we often say "追求 (zhuīqiú)/寻求 (xúnqiú)" to express this meaning.


Xúnqiú hépíng shì wǒmen de mùbiāo.
寻求     和平     是    我们   的   目标。


Seeking peace is our aim.

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Can you tell me the differences between the Mandarin Chinese phrases “因and 因此?”

Can you give a lesson about measure words in Mandarin Chinese? Thanks.

The Mandarin Chinese character “因(yīn),” as a conjunction, is short for “因此(yīncǐ).” But as a noun, it is short for the Mandarin Chinese phrase “原因(yuányīn).”

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