A Chinese Saying for Our Favorite Knick Jeremy Lin

Most people would have given up and thought they simply weren’t destined for the NBA.

Perhaps after receiving no scholarship offers out of high school.

Or perhaps after being undrafted out of college.

Or perhaps after being cut by 2 NBA teams (including their hometown) and being banished to the development league.

Instead of giving up, Jeremy Lin kept working. 

And when opportunity came, he seized it by leading his struggling team to back-to-back victories. An unknown player on the bench just days before, he had the whole arena chanting “MVP” by the end of each night. Now it looks like he’ll be the starting point guard for one of the most high-profile and high potential teams in the NBA.

The best part? The authentic and down-to-earth reactions Jeremy had for a journalist interviewing him after his first career night. 

There’s a Chinese saying that’s perfect to describe Jeremy’s way of doing things — 低调做人, 高调做事 (dī diào zuò rén, gāo diào zuò shì) — talk small but do big things. It means being low key in how you conduct yourself, and being “big time” in how you do things. It means no hype but all game.

Here’s a breakdown of the characters in 低调做人高调做事(dī diào zuò rén, gāo diào zuò shì): 

低调 (dī diào): low profile or low key (低 – dī – low; 调 – diào – tone)

做人(zuò rén): how you conduct yourself or behave (做 – zuò – to do; 人 – rén – person or people)

高调 (gāo diào): literally means “high pitch” or “high-key,” and is generally used for boastful words or big talk, but here it’s specially used to talk about how you do things (高 – gāo – tall; 调 – diào – tone)

做事 (zuò shì): how you handle affairs / matters (做 – zuò – do; 事 – shì – matters)

Here are other examples of how that saying is used.

Usage 1): As a Verb.

Example 1 A)

为人不可太过嚣张,高调做事低调做人 “

“wéi rén bù kě tài guò xiāo zhāng, gāo diào zuò shì dī diào zuò rén

“You can’t be too arrogant —  be big time in how you do things, but be low key in how you conduct yourself

Example 1 B)

低调了许多的詹姆斯默默无闻的在场上贡献着场均30+的表现,真可谓低调做人高调做事 “

“dī diào le xǔ duō de zhān mǔ sī mò mò wú wén de zài chǎng shàng gòng xiàn zhe chǎng jūn 30+ de biǎo xiàn, zhēn kě wèi dī diào zuò rén gāo diào zuò shì

“A much quieter Lebron James is contributing 30+ points per game — you can say he’s really letting his game do the talking

Usage 2): 低调做人, 高调做事 + 的 + Noun.

Example 2 A)

佳品一直秉承高调做事,低调做人的原则 “

“jiā pǐn yì zhí bǐng chéng gāo diào zuò shì, dī diào zuò rén de yuán zé “

“Excellent products always follow the principle of being low on hype but delivering big time

Are you a Knick fan? Do you know other idioms or sayings that Jeremy would approve of?

Speaking of things that are low on hype but deliver big time, FluentU can help you improve your language skills in an effective and interesting way.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.

Experience Chinese immersion online!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe