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The Chinese Sayings Podcast

History • Education

Join Laszlo Montgomery for weekly episodes that introduce commonly used Chinese Sayings and the stories and rich meanings behind each phrase. Whether you speak Chinese or not, enjoy a few stories and pick up a phrase or two from China’s ancient times.

Popular episodes

S4E08 | Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out

Nov 21 • 08:07

Here's another good one to remember if your life should temporarily hit the skids and your friends scatter. This one comes from the Grand Historian himself, Sima Qian, who tells us all about Lord Zhai, a loyal and respected public servant during the long reign of Han Emperor Wu....

S4E07 | One Bad Apple

Nov 8 • 06:45

Welcome back to another CSP. This time I'm happy to present to you another great one direct from The Zhuangzi. Everyone's favorite Daoist tells us the story about a young kid from the sticks who had a chance encounter with no less a personage than The Yellow Emperor himself. When engaging the young kid about matters regarding how to rule the world we learn the useful idiom...

S4E06 | From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Oct 24 • 16:04

In the latest CSP episode, we harken back to the early Jin Dynasty 晋朝 and the zaniness of the Sima Clan following the death of Emperor Wu of Jin. Plenty of blood flowed during the shake-out period as the 3rd century AD came to a close. But it wasn't all bad. From this period we get the great Chinese Saying, Gǒu Wěi Xù Diāo 狗尾续貂. Keep this one in your back pocket for use in...

S4E05 | That's Worth a Lot!

Oct 10 • 09:23

Today's CSP offering goes way way back to the time of Ancient Chu State during the 7th century BC. The famous "Hé Shì Bì" 和氏璧 Jade ornament discussed years ago in CSP episode S3E01 once again takes center stage. In this prequel to that S3E01 episode, we see how a poor farmer (He Shi) discovers this priceless jade and makes multiple failed attempts to hand it over to the Ki...

S4E04 | Showing Paul How to Write a Song

Sep 27 • 07:54

Today's Chinese Saying, Bān Mén Nòng Fǔ 班门弄斧 comes to us courtesy of the Tang and Song Dynasty luminaries Liu Zongyuan and Ouyang Xiu who teach us about the Zhou Dynasty hero Lu Ban. He knew how to use an axe to build stuff like no one else. You don't want to stand outside his doorway and brag about your axe-wielding skills. This is a good one to use when you see people ta...

S4E03 | Waiting in Vain

Sep 13 • 07:37

Another classic from the long list of great Chinese Sayings. 守株待兔 Shǒu Zhū Dài Tù. Thank Han Feizi for this one. He teaches us not to sit around and wait for good luck to find us. Just because you got lucky once doesn't mean lightning will strike twice. In this quick story about the farmer in Song State, we learn sometimes it's better to go out and seek what you want rathe...

S4E02 | They Smilin' in Your Face

Aug 27 • 08:16

Remember that O'Jay's tune from 1972, "Backstabbers"? They must have had Tang Dynasty chancellor Li Linfu in mind. The story behind our Chinese Saying for this time 口蜜腹剑 tells the story of this 8th-century politician/official who served the great Emperor Xuanxong (玄宗). All the time, they want to take your place, the backstabbers (backstabbers). Beware of those with a honey...

S4E01 | The Four-Legged Snake

Aug 16 • 09:17

Welcome back to the fourth season of the Chinese Sayings Podcast...after three years and seven months, we continue on where we left off with another story behind one of the great Chinese Sayings, or chengyu....

S3E10 | Always Expect the Unexpected

Jan 20 • 10:13

For the final episode of Season 3 Laszlo closes with one of the classics from the Three Kingdoms era. Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang star in this drama played against the backdrop of the Battle of Red Cliff....

S3E09 | I Gotta Get to the Gym!

Jan 12 • 07:03

Another classic from the Eastern Han that features the future King of Shu, the great Liu Bei of Three Kingdoms period renown. In this episode we find Liu Bei catching a breather after suffering a defeat in the service of Yuan Shao at the hands of Cao Cao's forces. During his period of laying low, Liu Bei starts to regret the situation he finds himself in....

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