Chinese Tuesdays: Tigers, Monkeys and Heros


Here are a couple of expressions that have stuck in my head for ages:

山中无老虎 猴子称大王 (shānzhōngwúlǎohǔ hóuzichēngdàwáng)

If the tigers leave the mountain, the monkey is named King. This phrase is from a fable too long to summarise here, and is an equivalent to "When the cat’s away the mouse will play." You can use it in the same situations, such as when your boss is away for a week.

英雄无用武之地 (yīngxióngwúyòngwǔzhīdì)

A hero with no place to display his prowess. This saying is almost two thousand years old, but is still used today, when someone has a hidden talent they have no chance to use in everyday life. For example, if a coworker is an excellent pianist, but no-one in the office knows because in normal conditions there is no way for them to show off that skill.

From Sam Duncan's blog