Exploring traditional Chinese culture through metaphors

It’s very eye-opening to learn about conceptual metaphors that shape not only our languages but also our thoughts and actions. I find three very popular sayings in Chinese that reveal very traditional ideas of my home country.

1)  “Marriage is the grave of love”.

Marriage was anything but an individual choice in the old society. Men and women were required to marry someone chosen by their family in consideration of money, power, fame and etc. Combined to someone not for their own love, young people described themselves as “locked” in marriage with no “freedom”.

2) “Filial piety is obedience”.

In the old Chinese society, the older generation had categorical authority over the family as well as their children. Young people were supposed to “listen to” their parents and “follow” their words, instead of having their own ideas and decision, or even just a chance to talk with them equally.

3)  “Don’t let your kids lose on the starting line”.

Many parents take the education of their children as a competition throughout the society. They push their children to start learning early and learn more, so that their children can be better “prepared” when school starts to “beat” their classmates and “hit the top” in exams.

About Ziwei Chen

Ziwei Chen is a first-year Bucknellian under an undeclared major but with an interest in sociology. She comes from Beijing, China and speaks Chinese and English.
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