知了来了 (cicada season)
It is cicada season in China. 蝉 chán (formal: cicada) 知了 zhīliǎo (colloq. cicada). Anyone trying to run a summer class with the windows open has to shout or give up.
I looked it up in Pleco and was surprised to find fifteen listings for cicada, including some intriguing cheng yu. Here’s a couple: 蟪蛄不知春秋 huìgūbùzhīchūnqiū (lit. short-lived cicada does not see all of the seasons; fig. to see only a small piece of the big picture) 金蝉脱壳 jiīnchántuōqiào (lit. the cicada sheds its skin; fig. a crafty escape plan).
Anybody got any cicada stories or more chengyu?
chrisAugust 11, 2012, 09:30 AM
I had to look up the English first mate! Not come across cicada before, but I know exactly what you mean. The noise of these creatures in our apartment compound in SH is phenomenal. Sometimes it feels like they're part of an orchestra all in sync, e.g. just as one section goes quiet, another one starts up. Are they the same as "crickets"?
' it feels like they're part of an orchestra all in sync, e.g. just as one section goes quiet, another one starts up'
Exactly - it is remarkable group activity - they rise to a crescendo together and then ... the opposite (diminuendo?) ... then it starts again. It is quite beautiful walking the leafy streets where we live, enjoying their music.
I'm not an entomologist (not even close) but I think that crickets are quite different. The cicada has big transparent wings ... crickets make me think of emaciated cockroaches with their long antennae. Cicadas spend a period of their life cycle underground. They are common in Australia - I didn't realise you don't have them in England.
I belong to a meditation group, earlier in the season, we heard birds' singing, now we listen to the buzzing of Cicadas. 蟬，they are also called locusts colloquially, although they are not related. They like heat, that is when they do their most spirited singing. Usually the male leads the sound by vibrating the membrane on their abdomen, the rest will follow. It is amazing how powerfully loud this tiny creatures can be. Coincidently, today is the primary election day, at least where I live, I am not a political person usually (I am a mandarin Chinese instructor, 大學中文老師). Perhaps collectively, we vote with love in our heart for our country, we'll be as vocal as those tiny cicadas. That is the lesson to be learned, in my humble thinking.
髙宗玉 Gao Zhong-yu (known to my students as Mrs Rosa Kao magliola)
Love the idea of meditating while listening to the music of the Cicadas. 很酷Thanks for this interesting post.
Watched the Australian version of The Amazing Race last night and one of the challenges was eating Cicadas...可能苦 [可以这么说？。。。 味道是苦？]
Thanks for the lovely post on 蟬 - I love that 蟬 - the 繁体字 somehow looks like an insect with those two little 口 that look like eyes. (Sorry I'm not too good with character analysis.)
髙宗玉 (Mrs Rosa Kao magliola) - do you mind me asking where you live/work as a Chinese teacher? Hong Kong? Taiwan?
SF_RachelAugust 14, 2012, 06:58 PM
I grew up on the East Coast of the U.S., where there's a weird kind of cicada locally called the "17 year locust" (or more properly, the 17 year cicada). These little critters spend 16 years underground and then come up and sing their 17th year. But the weird thing is that the hatching cycle is synchronized for pretty much all of them. So the environment has 16 years without cicadas, followed by a cicada year.
And when a cicada year comes, they're everywhere! We had a cicada year in my late teens and I remember that the air was thick with them, everyone's car grills were full of cicadas (even though we cleaned them out every day). The racket was deafening, if just for a couple of weeks, but to mind mind also weirdly calming.
It was really interesting. I remember having a lot of fun playing with them. They had no fear of people, as I recall, so you could pick them up and make them sing if they weren't already singing. Since cicada years happen so rarely, there tends to be a sort of festival atmosphere when they hatch (I don't think they're terribly damaging to plants). A lot of cicada recipes in the newspaper too, I remember. :-)
Unsurprisingly given that periodic cicadas are native to North America, in a way it gives the lie to the chengyu 蟪蛄不知春秋 above.
Yes, thanks Rachel, I echo baba's sentiments - nice story. I kind of assumed that cicadas were everywhere, like ants, or bees. I was surprised when chris said he had to look them up - I guess they need warm weather to bring them out of the earth, I don't know.
I thought that the chengyu might be apt regardless of how long they stayed underground - being underground for any length of time would keep you out of the loop. For 16 years!! Extraordinary as baba says.