Samtoki First Chinese Idiom Lesson – We’re All In This Together! [叁多级 成语乱写 第一课程]

Welcome to 叁多级’s 成语乱写 inaugural first class!

Alright, let’s start on some Chinese now that you’ve got some Korean down pat. But not just any regular ol’ mandarin – we’re going to do Chinese idioms, 成语 to be precise.

If you’ve heard of 成语, they are a partially poetic and cultural part of the Chinese language, because they all conform to the same pattern – they all consist of four characters.

Of course there are longer idioms and sayings in Chinese culture, but somehow this pattern of concise four-syllable pragmatic knowledge bombs became popular and naturally became a integral part of the Chinese culture and spoken language.

I won’t go too much into the history of it all, at least not now.

I will elucidate the pronunciation and meaning of the idiom up top, of course, otherwise this is going to become one of those inane recipes with a novel wrapped around the actual recipe that you have to hyper scroll to find.

As you may know, the Chinese phonetic alphabet (known as pinyin 拼音) comes with four inflections. I will follow the standard way of indicating the inflections with the numbers 1 to 4, but traditionally they have symbols above the vowels for inflections, like so óōǒò.

So that’s:

  1. ó
  2. ō
  3. ǒ
  4. ò

If you’re not sure how these inflections sound, check out this video.

Today’s idiom is:

  1. 同 – Tong2
  2. 舟 – Zhou1
  3. 共 – Gong4
  4. 济 – Ji4

Alternatively it can be written tóng zhōu gòng jì, but I’m too lazy to find the letters with the right symbols.

Anyway, this idiom means “we’re all in the same boat” ergo “we’re all in this together”.

I thought it would be fitting for the current situation we’re in, all being stuck at home, hiding from the virus and its putrid carriers.

Now if you’re familiar with the Chinese language, you’ll know that each character is unique and bears its own meaning, so let’s break it down!

  1. 同 – Together, united
  2. 舟 – Boat (I’ve got to stop riding this Titanic meme)
  3. 共 – Overall, together
  4. 济 – Assist, aid

So it translates to “we’re in the same boat and we should help one another“. Instead of, you know, burning down our communication towers and spreading hoaxes and deception.

Because let’s face it, April Fool’s is over, guys.