Tuesday, October 19, 2010

对牛弹琴 Duì Niú Tán Qín - To Play the Lute to an Ox

对牛弹琴 Duì Niú Tán Qín - To Play the Lute to an Ox

In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was very good at playing the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. But he also behaved foolishly sometimes.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in the field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. "He must be interested in my music!" Gong Mingyi played beautifully and even he himself was intoxicated by the music.

Yet the cow paid no heed to these elegant sounds. (mouth sound) It simply focused its attention on eating the pleasant grass. "What's wrong with you, cow!" he yelled. Gong Mingyi was surprised to see this. He couldn't understand why the cow was so indifferent to his performance.

Was his performance boring? Not at all! The cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!

From that story comes the idiom Duì Niú Tán Qín 对牛弹琴. Niu means Cow or bull, whereas Tan Qin, means to play a musical instrument.

(perhaps similar to: casting pearls before swine)

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