Daily Chinese Proverb: Laughing at Others

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Wednesday, 16 September 2009
This Chinese proverb comes from Mencius, essentially it means; Don't gloat over other peoples mistakes whilst you are making the same ones in a different fashion. Though it is never good to laugh at other peoples mistakes, it is more important not to laugh when you have made the same mistake but not as seriously.

wǔshí bù xiào yī bù
Fifty steps, Laugh at a hundred

This proverb comes from the following Mencius quotation:


Mèngzǐ duì yuē: "wáng hàozhàn, qǐng yǐ zhàn yù. tián rán gǔ zhī, bīng rèn jì jiē, qì jiǎ yè bīng ér zǒu. huò yībǎi bù érhòu zhǐ, huò wǔshí bù érhòu zhǐ. yǐ wǔshí bù xiào yībǎi bù, zé hérú?"

Mencius replied, 'Your majesty is fond of war - let me take an illustration from war. The soldiers move forward to the sound of the drums; and after their weapons have been crossed, on one side they throw away their coats of mail, trail their arms behind them, and run. Some run a hundred paces and stop; some run fifty paces and stop. What would you think if those who run fifty paces were to laugh at those who run a hundred paces?'


yuē: "bù kě, zhí bù yībǎi bù ěr, shì yì zǒu yě."

The king said, 'They should not do so. Though they did not run a hundred paces, yet they also ran away.'
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