In this issue we will learn a useful Chinese proverb —“墙头草, 随风倒(qiángtóucǎo, suífēngdǎo) The grass on top of the wall sways whichever way the wind blows”. Here, “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)” refers to people who don’t have a mind of their own, who can’t form their own opinions. “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)” are easily swayed and always choose to support the more powerful or winning side of an argument or controversy. They are always ready to change their attitude or switch sides when circumstances change.
Xiao Lin, Xiao Mei, Xiao Yu and Xiao Bei are talking about the singing competition “Voice of the Campus” in the dormitory. Let’s have a look at their conversation.
Xiǎo Lín: Míngtiān shì xiàoyuánzhīshēng de zǒngjuésài, wǒ zhīchí Zhōu Méng, nǐmen zhīchí shuí?
小林： 明天 是 校园之声 的 总决赛， 我 支持 周萌， 你们 支持 谁？
Xiao Lin: The finals for “Voice of the Campus” will be held tomorrow. I support Zhou Meng, how about you guys?
Xiǎo Měi: Wǒ zhīchí Liú Jiā.
小美： 我 支持 刘佳。
Xiao Mei: I support Liu Jia.
Xiáo Yǔ: Liú Jiā.
Xiao Yu: Liu Jia.
Xiǎo Bèi: Wǒ yě zhīchí Liú Jiā.
小贝： 我 也 支持 刘佳。
Xiao Bei: I also think Liu Jia is better.
Xiǎo Lín: Nǐmen zěnme dōu zhīchí Liú Jiā? Nà wǒ yě zhīchí Liú Jiā.
小林： 你们 怎么 都 支持 刘佳？ 那 我 也 支持 刘佳。
Xiao Lin: Why are you all in favor of Liu Jia? Well then, I’ll support Liu Jia, too .
As we can see from the dialogue, Xiao Lin suddenly changed her opinion when she found out that her other dorm mates all supported Liu Jia. In this case, we can say Xiao Lin is a “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)”, who, having no firm stand, only knew to follow what everyone else was doing.
This idiom is also often used in the workplace, for example:
Zhāng Chéng: Lǐ Qíng, nǐ zěnme le?
张成： 李晴， 你 怎么 了？
Zhang Cheng: Li Qing, what’s up?
Lǐ Qíng: Ài, Wáng Lì zhīqián shuō zhīchí wǒde fāngàn, jīntiān kāihuìshí què shuō tā zhīchí Lín Hóng.
李晴： 唉，王力 之前 说 支持 我的 方案， 今天 开会时 却 说 他 支持 林红。
Li Qing: Well, Wang Li said he would back my proposal days ago, but in today’s meeting he said he supports Lin Hong.
Zhāng Chéng: Zěnme huì zhèiyàng?
张成： 怎么 会 这样？
Zhang Cheng: Why is that?
Lǐ Qíng: Yīnwèi Lín Hóng shēngzhí le, Wáng Lì jiùshì gè qiángtóucǎo!
李晴： 因为 林红 升职 了，王力 就是 个 墙头草！
Li Qing: Because Li Hong got promoted. Wang Li is such an opportunist!
To sum up what just happened here, Wang Li used to take the side of Li Qing who was put in an important position in the company. However, when he found out that Lin Hong actually got the promotion, he jumped sides at once and chose to support Lin Hong, the new higher-up, in the meeting. This makes Wang Li a “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)”, always standing on the stronger side.
Tā shì gè qiángtóucǎo, wǒ bù xǐhuan tā.
他 是 个 墙头草， 我 不 喜欢 他。
He is an opportunist, so I don’t like him.
Nǐ bié xiāngxìn tā, tā shì gè qiángtóucǎo.
你 别 相信 她，她是个 墙头草。
Don’t have faith in her. She’ll just go whichever way the wind blows.
Nǐ yào jiānchí zìjǐde xiǎngfǎ, búyào zuò qiángtóucǎo, suífēngdǎo.
你 要 坚持 自己的 想法， 不要 做 墙头草， 随风倒。
You should stick to your own point. Don’t be easily swayed.
1. Which of these is a distinct characteristic of a “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)”?
A. Strongly determined.
B. Overly confident.
C. Easily swayed.
2. If a “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)” finds out that he or she holds a different opinion from everyone else, what would he or she do?
A. Try to persuade the others that he/she is right.
B. Blindly follow the others.
C. Stick to his/her point.