essential-chengyu-smooth-talk

Essential Chengyu: Smooth talk

Have you ever been talked into buying something you didn’t want?

Or doing something you didn’t want to do?

Then you probably know what it’s like to be smooth talked with 花言巧语 (huā yán qiǎo yǔ).

花言巧语 (huā yán qiǎo yǔ) refers to words that sound nice but are deceiving and artful. Literally, it means “flowery words and cunning language.” It’s a negative word and is often used for guys trying to attract girls or sales people (we just tell it like it is – we have nothing against people in sales!).



A breakdown of the characters in 花言巧语 (huā yán qiǎo yǔ):

花 (huā): flower

言 (yán): speech or words (eg. 语言 – yǔyán)

巧 (qiǎo): cunning (mainly just for this chengyu)

语 (yǔ): language (eg. 外语 – wàiyǔ – foreign language)

Observing 花言巧语 (huā yán qiǎo yǔ) in the wild reveals 4 main usages.

Usage 1) As a Noun.

Example 1 A)

在李彦宏看来,百度从来不是靠花言巧语赢来投资者的,而是真正做好公司 “

“zài lǐyànhóng kànlái, bǎidù cónglái búshì kào huāyánqiǎoyǔ yínglái tóuzīzhě de, érshì zhēnzhèng zuò hǎo gōngsī”

“As Robin Li sees it, Baidu never won investors over through smooth talk, but rather by really being a good company”

Example 1 B)

“…不要被服务器销售人员的花言巧语所蒙蔽 “

“…búyào bèi fúwù qì xiāoshòu rényuán de huāyánqiǎoyǔ suǒ méngbì “

“…don’t get hoodwinked by the smooth talk from the server sales people”

Example  1 C)

真爱,不需要那么多的花言巧语,不需要那些刻意的技巧 “

“zhēnài, bù xūyào nàme duō de huāyánqiǎoyǔ, bù xūyào nàxiē kèyì de jìqiǎo “

“True love doesn’t require so much sweet talking, it doesn’t require such painstaking tricks”

Usage 2) As a Verb.

Example 2 A)

不管欧盟领导人如何花言巧语,市场仍然很快认清了形势 “

“bùguǎn ōuméng lǐngdǎorén rúhé huāyánqiǎoyǔ, shìchǎng réngrán hěnkuài rènqīng le xíngshì “

“No matter how the EU leaders smooth talked, the market still saw the situation clearly”

Example 2 B)

花言巧语,甚至骗得一位姑娘主动花八千元钱给他买衣服、买掌上游戏机 “

“tā huāyánqiǎoyǔ, shènzhì piàn de yī wèi gūniang zhǔdòng huā bā qiān yuán qián gěi tā mǎi yīfú, mǎi zhǎng shàng yóuxì jī “

“He smooth talked, and was even able to trick a young girl into spending 8,000 RMB to buy him clothes and a handheld video game machine”

Usage 3) 花言巧语 + 地 + Verb.

Example 3 A)

禁不住陌生男子花言巧语地劝说,小敏相信了到大城市就能好吃好喝 “

“jīnbúzhù mòshēng nánzǐ huāyánqiǎoyǔ de quànshuō, xiǎomǐn xiāngxìn le dào dàchéngshì jiù néng hǎochīhǎohē “

“Unable to resist an unfamiliar boy’s smooth talking and persuading, Min believed that going to the big city meant there would be good things to eat and drink”

Usage 4) 花言巧语 + 的 + Noun.

Example 4 A)

花言巧语的华尔街老手们

“… huāyánqiǎoyǔ de huáěrjiē lǎoshǒumen”

“…the smooth talk of Wall Street veterans”

Questions? Comments? Other chengyu you’d like us to cover? Let us know!

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2 Responses to Essential Chengyu: Smooth talk

  1. Hugh Grigg November 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    This goes right back to the Analects, e.g. “子曰:「巧言令色,鮮矣仁!」”

    The Master said: “Smooth talk and an attractive appearance are rarely virtuous!”

    • Alan November 22, 2011 at 6:51 am #

      Haha that’s good! It’s almost like he had Michael Douglas in mind.

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