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Say It Right Series

Posted by johnb December 14, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

Today we're going to look at a character close to Yao Ming's (姚明) heart -- [jiàn], "arrow." I know what you're asking: "what do arrows have to do with an extremely tall and talented Shanghainese guy?" Well, one of the most common words that you'll find 箭 in is 火箭 [huǒjiàn] -- "rocket" -- which literally means "fire arrow." As you can imagine, the Houston Rockets, are called 火箭队 [huǒjiàn duì] in Chinese. If you're looking to brush up on your basketball-related Chinese, the NBA maintains a Chinese version of their site that might help you out.

OK, back to arrows. Besides talking about the actual pointy things, 箭 can be found in 暗箭 [ànjiàn], which means "an underhanded attack." In English we stab people in the back, in Chinese you shoot them with an arrow in the dark (or secretly, depending on how literally you want to interpret ). Sucks either way, I suppose. That brings us to a nugget of wisdom that is important for you Jack Bauer-eque heroes out there:

明枪易躲,暗箭难防。[Míng qiāng yì duǒ, ànjiàn nán fáng.]

Literally, it says "a bullet in the light is easy to dodge, an arrow in the dark is hard to defend against." More smoothly, we could say "a false friend is worse than an open enemy."

Radical: 竹 (118). Components: 竹前. Strokes: 15.

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