Post-Pause Expression: Please Join us.
Read the Article, and Think out the Best English
( Note: This is one of our efforts that make this website more in line with the Taoist way of life, pure enjoyment without any utilitarian consideration from our secondary society. You-Sheng Li)
1966 to 1976,
When he was with Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China, on the balcony of Tian An Men on the Chinese national day, they both watched millions of Mao's worshipers marching in front of Mao, shouting, “Ten thousand years to Chairman Mao!” Mao was worshiped as a living God during the Cultural Revolution.
Snow asked Mao, “Isn't that a personality cult? Isn't that a superstition?”
Mao was silent for a long time, and then said, “If there is no God, people will create one. If you call it a personality cult, a superstition, it is everywhere in world including the West.” Mao apparently lacked knowledge of the West and thought the Western people are the same as Chinese people.
book, Mao, A Biography, Ross Terrill gives
vivid descriptions of this Chinese living God, Mao's bitter life in his later
years, lonely, being worshiped but deserted. Terrill concludes, the time of the
hero is over, and people live their life without a hero. Unfortunately, Terrill
isn't right yet. In a recent trip to
Once the Chinese Communist leader, Mao told Snow: I am a monk holding an umbrella. The next day all newspapers of the Western world carried Mao's remarks but not a single reader understood what Mao really meant by those words. Most people thought Mao was an elderly lonely man holding an umbrella in a gloomy rain. In the Western mind, absolute power brings the incurable disorder: loneliness, and Mao got them both. But a Chinese school boy would understand that Mao's message through those words was to tell the world: I am the guy who respects neither law nor God 无法(髮)无天.
Here Mao used a Chinese expression named post-pause expression 歇后语. Such expression is popular in walks of low class such as peasants, urban labourers, and even gangsters. Foreigners who study Chinese may never come cross such expression except for they read certain modern novels rich of local dialects. In a conversation, the speaker wants to use a well known idiomatic phrase to illustrate his point. In stead of saying this phrase directly, the speaker gives a clue like a riddle with the phrase as the answer. After a pause to see the listener's reaction, he may and may not speak out the answer. Generally speaking, the speaker will not give out the answer phrase if he thinks the listener knows it already from his clue. The speaker can also improvise new ones during conversation when in such case the speaker has certainly to provide the answer after the pause. It is still a popular game among certain youngsters who speak such expression as a contest. Two to four players standing in a circle facing each other, in turn each speaks a post-pause expression for an ongoing conversation with the latter as a reply to the former one. In such a game the players often have to improvise, making new post-pause expressions. When they do they have to give the answer not like Chairman Mao who left his Western audience puzzled for decades.
only told Snow the riddle part and thought he was clever enough to know the
answer from his clue. I am certain that the translator understood the
expression but did not dare to further interpret except literally translated
this living God’s words. In
Post-pause expression is a way to stress part of the speech by a riddle and answer form. Therefore, it can apply to any language though it may sound funny when you first come cross such an expression. It will certain enrich our conversation and make a dialogue more energetically interesting. It will also enrich English as a language. The following is my effort to introduce such expression into English. Can you think some more to add? Please leave it in the Guest Book, and I will transfer it here later. On behalf of this website and its visitors, I appreciate your help, and good luck.
1. What time has my shoelace gone into your hands? ...... You are pulling my leg.
2. I am afraid your buttocks catch fire. ...... You are on the back burner.
3. Salmon jumps into the oven...... It smells fishy.
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