Slate magazine has a very cute story, very cutely headlined “The Forune Cookie 500”, on how Chinese proverbs are tripping off the tongues of everybody across the world, especially business executives. Sample these:
# When the wind rises, some people build walls. Others build windmills.
# When is the best time to plant a tree? A hundred years ago. When is the second-best time to plant a tree? Yesterday.
# The character for crisis is the same as the character for opportunity.
# Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
Question: If the world is talking of China and India (“Chindia”) in the same breath, surely we should be competing in proverbs, too? Do we have such pithy, easy-to-remember, easy-to-use proverbs? Or are the Chinese ahead of us in the word game?