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Let Your Chinese Take Flight with This Bird Metaphor!

Jan. 18, 2017

General Chinese Bird Metaphor

All languages often use animals as metaphorical representations of a person’s character or temperament. In English, phrases such as “stubborn as a mule” and “eyes of a hawk” are easily used and understood in everyday conversation. The Chinese language is no different!

Today’s blog focuses on the phrase “翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le)”, which literally translates to “hardened wings” or “a bird having become fully fledged”. Similar to the English phrase which also uses a grown bird as a metaphor, “to leave the nest”, “翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le)” is used to describe a person who is now able to take on independence in their life. The major difference is that while “to leave the nest” is seen as a positive – the completion of development from childhood into an adulthood – the Chinese phrase often carries a negative meaning. In Chinese it used to describe a person who is not only independent, but one who no longer obeys others and seeks no advice from those whom are maybe more experienced. “翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le)” denotes an unsatisfied or reluctant feeling.

Seeking the advice and guidance from those who may know more about a subject is never a bad idea. So don’t be “翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le)” and ask our qualified teachers at eChineseLearning any and all of your Chinese questions to start your language journey on the right foot!

Examples of 翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le) being used in a sentence:

Nǐ xiànzài chìbǎng yìng le, suǒyǐ lián bàmā de huà dōu bù tīng le, shì ba?
你   现在    翅膀     硬 了,  所以  连  爸妈   的  话  都   不  听 了,是 吧?
You are grown now, so you don’t listen to your parents, do you?

Jack zhēn shì chìbǎng yìng le, tā méiyǒu xiān wèn wǒ jiù zuò le gè zhème zhòngyào de juédìng.
Jack   真   是    翅膀    硬  了,他  没有    先     问   我  就 做  了 个  这么       重要     的   决定。
Jack is grown up. He made such an important decision without asking me.


1. Which of these words means wings?
A. 翅膀 (chìbǎng)
B. 硬了 (yìng le)
C. 建议 (jiànyì)

2. Which of following behavior we can call “翅膀硬了 (chìbǎng yìng le)”?
A. Jenny picked up a bird with a hurt wing in the park.
B. Jack is independent and doesn’t need help from his parents.
C. Jim eloped and married an Australian girl without telling his parents.

See Answers

Related Posts:

Idiom Stories: 一箭双雕(Yíjiànshuāngdiāo) To shoot two hawks with one arrow

乌鸦和狐狸 (Wūyā Hé Húli) The Crow and the Fox

Chinese Test: Does the Bird love to Eat Vegetables?

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