Speak of the Devil...

Tal
December 28, 2009, 03:16 AM posted in General Discussion

There's a well known Chinese proverb:
说曹操,曹操到。
Shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào
(Talk about Cao Cao, and he'll arrive!)

It means roughly the same as our English one which I've used as the title of this post.

曹操 (Cao Cao) was an ancient Chinese warlord, well known in folk tales and in the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义), and portrayed in Beijing Opera (京剧) as a villain with a white face (which symbolises betrayal).

Today the Guardian has a fascinating story about the possible discovery of his tomb!

Chinese coverage here and here for education fans.

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changye
December 28, 2009, 03:33 AM

Hi tal

That's just fascinating! I've been busy reading relevant news articles since this morning!

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simonpettersson
December 28, 2009, 04:44 AM

Interesting stuff, though it seems a tad early to say. Does the Chinese proverb get shortened the way the English does? That is, can you just say "说曹操"?

The Swedish version of the same proverb is arguably the weirdest: "Tala om trollen och de sitter och fiskar i farstun": "Speak of the trolls and they're fishing in the hall."

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Tal
December 28, 2009, 06:16 AM

Ha ha! I love that one simon. But fishing in the hall? Do you all have like... indoor fish pools in Sweden? Sadly I've never been there, (I thought Abba was great though, back in the day.)

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simonpettersson
December 28, 2009, 06:47 AM

It doesn't make any more sense to me than it does to you, I'm afraid.

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John
December 28, 2009, 06:54 AM

Good find!

Quick clarification, though: as stated on the 百度百科 page, the saying is usually phrased in spoken Chinese as, “说曹操曹操到” (Shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo jiù dào).

@simonpettersson: "Speak of the trolls and they're fishing in the hall."?!?  Ha ha... hilarious!

 

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Tal
December 28, 2009, 08:54 AM

Cheers John! Okiedoke, noted that!

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paulinurus
December 28, 2009, 11:53 AM

What a coincidence! I was invited to a Chinese home last evening and there was a statute of a fierce looking figure on the mantle. Asked who the statute was and the host replied "most famous warlord." I didn't enquire further but it looks like the pic of Cao Cao above. There was a small red envelope taped to the statute of Cao Cao.  

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xiaophil
December 29, 2009, 05:20 AM

I just saw a BBC clip on this.  The reporter pronounced his name Sow.  Hmmm...

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simonpettersson
December 29, 2009, 06:56 AM

Haha. I pronounce it "Kow". A 'c' before an 'a' is usually pronounced as a 'k' in western languages.

I'm still curious about this: Does the Chinese proverb get shortened the way the English does? That is, can you just say "说曹操"?

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Tal
January 01, 2010, 12:28 AM

simon,我的太太说《可以》!

Came across this interesting discussion about 曹操 and the possible discovery of his tomb. Some good links and amusing comments in it.

新年快乐!

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changye
January 01, 2010, 04:32 AM

我最近每天看“曹操墓真假争议”有关的中文报道,觉得确实很有趣,值得天天关注!