Jump to content
Linguaholic

自相矛盾 (Zì xiāng máodùn)


Recommended Posts

自相矛盾 (Zì xiāng máodùn) - To contradict oneself.

Literally means - Show spear and shield

Once upon a time there was a weapons merchant. One day he goes to the market to sell his weapons, he brought out a spear and claimed that it's the sharpest spear ever made and can penetrate any type of shield. Among the crowd was one nosy guy, he said, "Doesn't look that impressive to me." The merchant then replied, "Oh, nevermind the spear then, let me show you this shield instead." The merchant put away the spear and told the guy that the shield is the strongest there was and no spear could ever hope to break it. So the nosy guy thought and asked, "Since you claim that the spear is the sharpest and the shield the strongest so what happens when the spear hits the shield?" The merchant panicked and didn't know the answer and had to leave in embarassment.

自相矛盾 (Zì xiāng máodùn) is used to describe when someone's actions contradict what he/she said.

Example:

"刚才你有说乱丢拉级是不對, 你現在自己又丟。 你這樣不就是「自相矛盾」?"

Link to post
Share on other sites
Improve your knowledge of any language online

Wow, interesting! I am wondering how you came up with the literal translation though. I do agree that 矛 isolated means Spear and 盾 isolated means Spear. But how about the other two characters? As far as I know 自 means self (what is more is that zi was originally a pictogram for nose) and 相 generally means "mutually". So how did you get it to mean "show"? is that maybe a compound word of 自 and 相 together (自相)?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, interesting! I am wondering how you came up with the literal translation though. I do agree that 矛 isolated means Spear and 盾 isolated means Spear. But how about the other two characters? As far as I know 自 means self (what is more is that zi was originally a pictogram for nose) and 相 generally means "mutually". So how did you get it to mean "show"? is that maybe a compound word of 自 and 相 together (自相)?

I missed "自" in the translation. It's actually Self Show Spear Shield. As you know, one word in Chinese has many meanings. "相" in this context means to reveal, to show. This can be compared to "相親" which is to see, or to reveal oneself to another gender which actually means a blind date.

I hope I cleared it up because sometimes Chinese words have meanings that are hard to explain in English. You'll understand through experience with the language.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

I completely understand. I just did not know that 相 can also mean to show / reveal. I am well aware that chinese characters can have plenty of different meanings according to the context. In Classical Chinese for instance, one of the most important characters was 之 and it has more than seven different meanings. Another important character at that time was 為. In our classical Chinese book, this character has 16 different meanings in the second tone, and some more meanings in the 4th tone. I might start a new thread to let you know more about the use of 之 and 為 in Classical Chinese.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...