Hey Zuckerberg: Learn these Chinese Idioms!

We all know Mark Zuckerberg is learning Chinese.  Next time he is in China, we have some new idioms for him to practice. Whether it was overhyped, poorly executed, or even unnecessary, the consensus is in: the Facebook IPO was everything from a slight disappointment to an unmitigated disaster. Not to rub salt in the wound, but we have two timely idioms to describe Facebook’s disappointing first few weeks as a public company: 有负众望 and 恨铁不成钢. 1.  有负众望 (yǒu fù zhòng wàng) (yǒu): to have, possess (fù): negative (as in 负面 – fùmiàn) (zhòng): the public, a crowd (as in 观众 – guānzhòng – audience) (wàng): hope, expectation (as in 希望 – xīwàng – hope) This means to disappoint those who had confidence in you, or to fail to live up to people’s expectations.  This can only be used in instances where there were very high hopes for success, and you are responsible for not rising to them.

Example A


xīn néng yuán qìchē : yǒu fù zhòng wàng de zhàn lüè xìng xīn xīng chǎn yè

Alternative energy cars: strategic emerging industry has fallen short of expectations

Example B


wǒ men duì yīng guó duì jì yǔ hòu wàng , dàn nà yì tiān tā men yǒu fù zhòng wàng

We had great hopes for the English team, but that day they didn’t live up to expectations

  2.  恨铁不成钢 (hèn tiě bù chéng gāng) (hèn): regret (tiě): iron (地铁 – dìtiě –  subway) 不成 (bùchéng): not become (成为 – chéngwéi – turn into) (gāng): steel This is used to describe people’s disappointment with the development of something or someone.  It is often used to describe exasperated parents frustrated with their under-performing children.  Translated literally, it means “regretfully, the iron did not become steel”, surely to disappoint those who wished it had! (This idiom took on another meaning in the 我爸是李刚! (wǒ bà shì lǐ gāng) incident, which swept the country a couple years ago)

Example A

移动互联网抄袭能走多远 投资人恨铁不成钢

yí dòng hù lián wǎng chāo xí néng zǒu duō yuǎn tóu zī rén hèn tiě bù chéng gāng

How far can mobile internet plagiarism go?  Investors frustrated with lack of progress.

Example B


gāo zhōng de shí hou , bān zhǔ rèn pī píng wǒ zuì cháng yòng de yí jù huà jiù shì “ hèn tiě bù chéng gāng ” , shuō wǒ tiáopídǎodàn,  bù dǒngdé bǎwò jīhuì

In school, the teacher often criticized me with the sentence “regretfully, iron not turning into steel“, meaning I was a naughty trouble maker and didn’t understand how to seize opportunities.

This is all of course in jest (and be sure to check out our Facebook page!)  Perhaps we are a bit 嫉妒 (jídù- jealous)? Suggestions for other idioms Mark Zuckerberg should learn?

And don’t forget to head on over to FluentU and try taking a few Chinese lessons.

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