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Say It Right Series

Chinese Idioms - 自相矛盾

Posted by vann0000 February 9, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, spear, shield, contradictory, pierce

His Spear Against His Shield

自相矛盾 zi xiang mao dun
Tuesday, March 25, 2008


One day, in the days of the warring states, a man from the Chu State went to sell a spear and a shield. Both of these were ancient weapons in China. The spear had a long handle with a metal point on the end.

To attract customers and to sell his weapons as soon as possible, he would shout out loudly to all who were coming and going: "Come and see! My spear is the sharpest in the world. It is sharp enough to pierce through anything. If it even touches something, it will pierce all the way through it." Hearing his words, many people came to inspect the spear.

Seeing he had an audience, the man held up his spear and loudly boasted to everyone: "My shield is the strongest in the world! However sharp the spears and arrows are, they cannot pierce through my shield!" As he spoke the boastful words, all the listeners were dumbfounded.

Then, a person stepped out of the crowd. He went and picked up a spear and then picked up a shield. He asked, "If you pierce your shield with your spear, what will happen then?" When the man heard that, he had nothing to say. He blushed with shame. He gathered up his things and fled from the marketplace in embarrassment.

So if someone says something is "like the spear and shield," he means that someone has made two statements that are contradictory.

自相矛盾(zì xiāng máo dùn)

有一天,一位楚(chǔ)国人到市场上去卖矛和盾.矛和盾都是中国古代的兵器."矛"是一种长柄(cháng bǐng)的带有金属枪头的武器;"盾"是用来保护自己、抵挡(dǐ dǎng)敌人刺杀的武器.

为了吸引顾客,使自己的兵器尽快卖出去,他向过往的行人大声吆喝(yāo he)起来:"瞧一瞧,看一看,我的矛是世界上最尖利(jiān lì)的,无论怎样牢固坚实的东西也挡不住它一戳(chuō),只要一碰上,马上就会被它刺穿!"一番话说得人们纷纷围拢(fēn fēn wéi lǒng)来,仔细观看.

接着,这个楚人又举起他的盾,向大家夸口说:"我的盾,是世界上最坚固的,无论怎样锋利尖锐(fēng lì jiān ruì)的东西也不能刺穿它!"此番大话一经出口,听的人个个目瞪口呆(mù dèng kǒu dāi).

这时,只见从人群中走出一人,他上前拿起一只矛,又拿起一面盾问道:"如果用你的矛来戳你的盾,结果会怎么样?"楚人听了,无言以对,只好涨红着脸,赶紧收拾好他的矛和盾,灰溜溜地逃离了市场.

自相矛盾:比喻语言、行动前后不一致或互相抵触.

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