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Dui Niu Tan Qin

 

对牛弹琴 (duì niú tán qín)

Dui Niu Tan Qin

 

In ancient time, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was very good at playing the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. But he also behaved foolishly sometimes. One day, he saw a cow eating grass in the field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully and he himself was intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds. It simply focused its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised to see that. He couldn’t understand why the cow was so indifferent to his performance. Obviously, it is not because his performance is poor. But the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music! From that story comes the idiom “Play the lute to a cow”, which implies that someone speaks or writes without considering his audience. In general speaking, the speaker or writer has over-estimated his listeners or readers. In these cases, the idiom mocks the audience rather than the speaker. This idiom is also used to indicate reasoning with stubborn people or talking to the wrong audience.

 

从前,有个著名的音乐家公明仪。他的筝弹得非常好,但有时会作些傻事。有一天,他看到一头牛在他家附近的田里吃草。他一下子有了灵感,就跑出去为这头牛弹琴。公明仪弹的曲子非常优美,他自己也陶醉在音乐之中。可是那头牛根本不理会那美妙的音乐,只顾着吃草。公明仪感到十分奇怪,不明白为什么牛对他的演奏无动于衷。很明显,牛不理会他并不是因为他的演奏很糟糕。而是因为牛听不懂也欣赏不了这种高深的曲调。“对牛弹琴”这个成语就是从上述故事演化而来的,指那些说话或写东西不考虑到听众的人。一般来说,是说话人或作者高估了听众或读者,所以,这则成语嘲讽的主要是听众或观众,而不是说话者。“对牛弹琴”这个成语,常用来比喻对不懂道理的人讲道理,也用来讥笑说话的人不看对象。