Chinese Language

Proverbs | 13

Bei jing ya chi shi quan kao tian : Like the feeding of Peking Ducks - all a matter of stuffing.

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Zhong wen

Like the feeding of Peking Ducks - all a matter of stuffing
北京鸭吃食全靠填

In order to offer the gourmets good value for money, the ducks that make it to the top table to qualify as Peking Duck on the menu are usually raised in special farms in China. The best way to fatten them up is, of course, force-feeding. Such ducks regularly have feeds rammed down their throats, whether they like it or not.

The kind of school-teachers who believe in taking the pupils by the scruff of their necks and stuffing them with indigestible mumbo-jumbo, as if they were Peking Ducks, are now out of fashion, thank heaven! Having said that, one must admit that setting the school ducklings free to indulge in scholastic slimming is no answer either, unless, that is, we wish to breed a new generation of 'lame ducks'!

This is a type of saying called xie hou yu, which is composed of two parts, linked with a dash. The first half is usually allegorical, and the second delivers the message. More often that not, the second part is omitted as the message is generally understood.

© Copyright Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) 2001 reprinted from SACU's China Now 128, March 1989

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