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Two Thousand Zhuang Proverbs from China with Annotations and Chinese and English Translation


Zhou Yanxian

China is home to one of the largest and oldest societies in the world, and presently contains fifty-six ethnic groups. Among them is the Zhuang, the largest of the minority populations, which partakes in a very long history of preliterate oral traditions. This volume presents an introduction to Zhuang language and culture in Zhuang proverbs. The two thousand proverbs explored in this text bear the weight of Zhuang history and culture, and embody the wisdom collected from publications, manuscripts, and the speeches of the people who live in Zhuang villages. These proverbs are grouped into nine sections: Truths; Morality; Family; Everyday Life; Social Life; Labor; Nature; Customs; and Politics. Together, they form an essential distillation of the Zhuang history, tradition, philosophy, and most importantly, its legacy. This accessible introduction – which includes translations in Zhuang Pinyin letters, Mandarin, and American English for each proverb – provides an important corpus for the study of the Zhuang ethnic group by scholars, students, and others who are interested in Zhuang language, culture, folklore and oral traditions, and proverbs.

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Chapter 1. Saeh Leix 事理 Truths


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1. Aemj ndat nanz gwn, sim vunz nanz rox. 粥热难吃,人心难测。 Hot porridge is hard to eat, a man’s heart is hard to predict.

2. Aen daej rek ranzranz ndaem doxdoengz. 家家的锅底一样黑。 Every family’s pot has a black bottom.1

3. Aen gyaeq mbouj dek nengznyaen mbouj. 苍蝇不叮无缝的蛋。 Flies do no eat uncracked eggs.2

4. Aen gyong caeg daeuj mbouj gamj roq. 偷来的锣鼓不敢敲。 The thief dares not strike his stolen gong.

5. Aen gyong ceiq yiengj, congh ndaej ceiq vaiq. 最响的鼓,破得最快。 The louder the drum, the sooner it’s broken.3

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