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Chinese-English idioms dictionary

A bilingual Chinese-English idioms dictionary is important for those who want to converse like a native-speaker. Some online idiom dictionaries – such as the one provided for free by Purple Panda

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Mandarin flashcards online

Historically, flash cards have been used in every-day situations to memorize certain things of importance. The Purple Panda applications take this idea much further.

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Get The Casket and Return The Pearl

The Chinese idiom 买椟还珠(mǎidúhuánzhū,mai3 du2 huan2 zhu1)is used to satirize the behaviors of those who do not focus their attention on the main issues but get bogged down in minor details. It is derived from the story narrated in “外储说左上”(wai4 chu3 shuo1 zuo3 shang4) from 韩非子(han2 fei1 zi3).

The story took place in Warring States Period(476- 221 B.C.) in the principality of Zheng. A business man from Chu, another vassal state wanted to establish a roaring trade for his precious pearls. To this end, he invested everything he had in the decoration and quality of the caskets to fascinate the customers – he effectively bet the bank on the packaging rather than focusing on his actual product. The caskets were made from the costly lily magnolias and carefully steamed with Chinese cassia trees, mountain peppers and other first class spices. Inside and outside the caskets were encrusted with jades, fresh roses and jadeites.

One day a Zhengnesewoman came to take a look at what the businessman from Chu had to offer. She was so obsessed with the bells and whistles that she completely forgot her plan of bargaining for the pearls.In the end, she actually decided to buy the casket and return the pearls.

Today the Chinese idiom买椟还珠(mǎidúhuánzhū,mai3 du2 huan2 zhu1) is used to describe someone who only cares about the trappings and not the substance. We have not been able to think of an equivalent English idiom.

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