The Art of Chinese speech Xiēhòuyǔ 漢語的說話藝術 歇後語

A unique Chinese art of speech 漢語 獨有的說話藝術 歇後語

說話總是說一半,欲言又止,會讓人討厭吧。但在漢語中,有些話真的可以說一半哦!這還是漢語獨有的一種語體,你可以說它含蓄,也可以將它看成一種文字遊戲。是什麼?

就是:歇後語

Do you find it annoying when somebody only tells you half of what they wanted to say, and leave out the rest of the sentence? In Chinese, there is this specific form of rhetoric where the second half of a sentence is deliberately left unsaid. Some may say that it’s a kind of subtlety, or allegory, or even a kind of pun or game. 

This is known as 歇后语 /Xiēhòuyǔ/.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

所謂歇後語,就是只說前半句,後半句便能不言自明,不言而喻。

歇後語充滿趣味的同時,其讀音、構成和意義都很特別,是我們理解漢語語言和中國文化的一個獨特窗口。

歇 /Xiē/ means to halt.

“Xiehouyu” means that while the speaker only says part of the expression, their true intent lies in the part that comes AFTER the halt. Each and every one of the xiehouyu has its own history, much like our chengyu (Chinese idioms), and therefore is very culturally rich. The study of xiehouyu provides a unique window for us to understand more of Chinese language and culture.

來,讓我們一起看看其中的精妙。

說說俏皮話

Guess what I want to say!

歇後語是人們生活實踐中創造的特殊語言形式,由前後兩部分組成:前一部分是「引子」,像謎面,後一部分是「后襯」,像謎底,前後有因果或推理關係,在一定的語言場景中,說出前半截,便可歇去後半截,表達的意思也能不言而喻。

歇后语 Xiēhòuyǔ is a unique art of Chinese Speech. 歇後語

The first part of xiehouyu is like the riddle part of a “joke”, and the latter part is the answer. There is always a certain logical or historical relationship between the first and the latter parts. Under specific scenarios, as soon as the first part is said, everyone should know the second part, and thus understand the speaker’s true meaning. Often, the first part paints a vivid mental picture, and thus stirs a stronger emotion than what is said in plain language, sometimes even creating a theatrical effect.

A bit of history

歇後語歷史悠久,先秦時期《戰國策》中的「亡羊而補牢,未為遲也」就已經出現了,而最早出現「歇後」這一名稱是在唐代。作為活躍於民間的語言形式,除了文字記載,歇後語往往更多靠人們口耳相傳。

歇後語精致短小,通俗易懂,形象生動,詼諧幽默。早年間老北京土語中有「俏皮話」這一叫法,就是形容相當俏皮的歇後語啦!

The history of xiehouyu can be traced back to as far as Pre-Qin Dynasty (before 221 BCE). The name 歇后语was coined during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Although xiehouyu can all be written down, they are mostly used colloquially, and vividly reflect local culture, traditions, and dialects.

Xiehouyu are short and to the point. They are popular, lively, witty and humorous. At the turn of the 20th century in Beijing, some witty and sarcastic xiehouyu were once collectively called the “witticism / wisecrack” (俏皮话).

歇後語的分類

Rhetoric of xiehouyu

從修辭上說,歇後語往往會運用比喻、誇張、雙關等修辭手法,讓整個表達淺顯易懂,風趣活潑。我們可以簡單地把歇後語分為幾大類:

  • 諧音類,如:千年的石佛像 —— 老實(石)人,孔夫子搬家 —— 淨是輸(書)
  • 比喻類,如:刷子脫毛 —— 有板有眼,螃蟹過河 —— 七手八腳
  • 典故類,如:孫悟空守桃園 —— 自食其果,周瑜打黃蓋 —— 一個願打,一個願挨

From a rhetorical point of view, xiehouyu actively employ similes, exaggerations, puns, homophones, classical stories, quotes, etc. to achieve their effects. Most of the xiehouyu can be understood by all Chinese. 

各地各不同

Reflection of differences

歇後語具有很強的地域特色,一些地名、人名、產物僅當地才有,有些歇後語反映着各地地理風物的不同。

  • 福建地區 —— 「丁香鳀 —— 越大越不值錢」,丁香鳀是福建地區一種小魚,味道鮮美,越小越貴,越大反而越不值錢,福建人民用來訓斥自己的孩子越大越不爭氣。
  • 北京 ——  「炒肝 —— 沒心沒肺」,炒肝是北京著名小吃,用豬大腸和豬肝為原料,因為缺心少肺,所以北京人用來責備別人做事不用心思索考慮。
  • 珠三角 ——  「掘尾龍拜山」,是指珠三角地區三四月間晴天忽然驟變下大雨的天氣現象,又正值清明時節,人們就用「掘尾龍拜山 —— 攪風攪雨」這句話來形容是搬弄是非、造謠生事。「掘」,粵語中有禿、斷之意,「掘頭路」就是死胡同的意思。

中國地大物博,除了各鄉有各例,還方言繁多。而由於歇後語和口語結合度很高,所以自然地各個地方都有自己地道的方言和充滿傳統色彩的歇后語。就拿大家比較熟悉的北京話、粵語、和普通話來舉些例子吧。

比如「后腦勺留辮子 —— 隨便(辮)兒」,利用了諧音和北京話中獨特的兒化音。

粵語有「豉油撈飯 —— 整色整水」,「整」是做、弄、搗鼓的意思,用醬油拌飯,單調乏味的白米飯中加入醬油的顏色和水份,但白米飯終究還是白米飯,用來表示在不改變事情根本性質的情況下,做些表面工夫,裝模作樣。

「黃鱔上沙灘 —— 唔死一身潺」,在粵語中,「唔」是不的意思,「潺」是指滑滑的粘液。黃鱔長時間在沙灘上,會本能地分泌出粘液以保持身體的水份。這句話用來形容人遇到了大麻煩,就算死不了也會弄到「一身潺」,跟普通話中「不死也脫層皮」有異曲同工之意。

普通話中的「打破砂鍋——問到底」,在粵語中有一樣意思的「打爛沙盆——問到篤」,「篤」就是底的意思,小朋友學習「打爛沙盆——問到篤」,問到明白為止倒是好事呢!

They can also be very localised. Each area, province, and district have their own collection of local xiehouyu. They allow people to gain a quick and honest glimpse of their local natural resources, landscape, celebrities, climate, dialect, cooking, and so on. 

Sometimes, similar xiehouyu exist in different parts of China, merely substituting certain words with words from local dialect.

前半相同,後半不同

歇後語很能反映地域性的思想意識的差異。同一句歇後語,在不同地區可能會有不同解釋。

One same first part (riddle) of a xiehouyu can have different “meanings”. This can occur between different areas of China and would reflect differences in mentality and logic.

比如「牛皮燈籠」就發生了南北差異,在南方地區,意思是「點極都唔明」,用牛皮做的燈籠,怎麼點都不亮,比喻不是用來做這件事的料,怎麼說都說不明白。

而在北方是「肚裏明白」的意思,在牛皮裏點燈,裏面非常亮,用以形容心裏清楚。同一個牛皮燈籠,因為皮厚不透光,有人從外面看問題,有人從裏面看問題,都能悟出道理呢。

Art of Chinese speech 歇後語

For example, there is an expression that describes someone as a “lantern made of cowhide”. 

In the SOUTH, everybody would interpret that this person is dumb and can never be bright (because cowhide is opaque).

In the NORTH, however, it refers to someone who, although they keep it to themselves, understands a situation very well (bright inside but unknown to outside).

Who would have thought that the same lantern is seen from opposite sides between the north and the south!

前半不同,後半相同

歇後語又有另一種相反的情況。有些表示同一個意思的歇后語,即「後語」相同時,前面卻可能不一樣。比方說:表示「節節高,節節上升」這個意思,就有好多種說法:

Meanwhile, there are also many xiehouyu which use different first parts but all result in the same “meaning”. This is because people often come up with xiehouyu through careful observations in life. As a result, to say that things are improving or advancing, fast or slow, there are expressions such as:

  • 芝麻開花 flowering of a sesame plant
  • 竹筍出土 germination of bamboo plant
  • 矮子爬坡 a short person climbing a hill

這些事物都是慢慢上升的,就都被善於觀察的人們用來表示「節節高」了。

在生活中不斷豐富

The ever-evolving xiehouyu

語言隨着我們的生活不停地變化發展,歇後語從人們的生活中來,通俗又帶有市井風情,從柴米油鹽醬醋茶到民族特色、時代變遷,都是歇後語取材的地方。我們也會聽到帶有現代社會烙印的歇後語,比如:

Xiehouyu, being colloquial and popular, never stop evolving, and new ones are continuously created. Some examples of modern xiehouyu are:

  • 百貨大樓賣西裝 —— 一套一套的
  • To buy suits in a department store. > in sets
The ever-evolving xiehouyu 帶有現代社會烙印的 歇後語
  • 航空母艦 —— 吃水深
  • An aircraft carrier > cuts deep
  • 飛機上點燈 —— 高明
  • To (turn on a) light a light on the plane > 高明 (literally: high light. It means brilliant)

在日常相處中,家長們適時用歇後語和小朋友交流,既能在實際運用中加深理解,又能讓學習變得有趣。

比如,教導小朋友學習的態度要像「打赤腳趕場 —— 腳踏實地」;當小朋友做事情做得很不錯的時候,可以表揚他們「斑馬的腦袋 —— 頭頭是道」;但當他們不耐煩地把家長的話當耳旁風,先忍住你的怒火,問問他們是不是「借咗聾耳陳隻耳(粵)—— 裝作聽不到」?

要創造歇後語,最關鍵的是聯想和想象,而小朋友天馬行空的腦子正式創造的好時機。家長們不妨多多留意小朋友的「胡言亂語」,說不定靈光一閃就能創造出歇後語呢!

The creation and use of xiehouyu rely on our imagination and our power of association. You and your children can always create your own xiehouyu, and it’s FUN. Set your children free and let them explore and play with words. 

We encourage you to listen in to children’s “babbling nonsense”. They could very well be the inspiration of your next brilliant xiehouyu!

我們下一篇文章會帶家長利用閱讀練習卡和小朋友玩游戲,用已經掌握的漢字構成歇後語,一定成就感滿滿!

In our next post, we will bring you some card games and activities which use xiehouyu to practice reading and forming words.

Stay tuned!

我們會經常為大家探討漢字和語文的課題。
要是你有特別的相關課題希望我們探討,歡迎您告訴我們。

We discuss Chinese language and culture related topics on a regular basis.
If you would like us to discuss certain topics about Chinese, please let us know.

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© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

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