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不要怕吃苦, 吃苦才能了苦

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by baosheng, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada
    Canada, English
    Hello/大家好,

    There was a Buddhist image that I was looking at today (one of those online images with a "saying" on it) which says "不要怕吃苦,吃苦才能了苦".

    Here is my attempt at translating it:
    "Don't be afraid to bear hardships,
    Bearing hardships only allows one to understand it" (my formulation/translation may need improvement)

    Edit cross-posted with xiaolijie:
    I think I may have just answered my own question in regard to the meaning. I had forgotten that 了 liao3 can stand for 了解 liao3jie3.

    Also, is this 简称 common? (using 了 liao3 without the 解 jie3, if that is indeed where it comes from?)


    Thanks/谢谢!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    了 here should be a verb (read liao3), meaning to finish, to end (了+ 苦 = to end + the hardships).
     
  3. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada
    Canada, English
    Thanks for your reply, xiaolijie!
    Oh, I think you are right... it must mean "end" rather than "understand". The words has both meanings though, right? Is there a way of knowing when it means "end" and when it means "understand"? (perhaps is "了 liao3 = to end" used more in Buddhist contexts, as in 'ending suffering', 'ending the cycle of birth and death',etc. ?)
     
  4. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    "Liao3" in the sense of understanding does not normally occur on its own. It needs a partner to form a verb or phrase, such as 了解, 了如指掌.
     
  5. SuperXW Senior Member

    Possibly means "to end", as in words like 了结, 了却.
    However, the saying 了苦 is very rare. I never heard of it in my daily life. Could be a Buddhist usage.
     
  6. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    You're right, it's not a word or a fixed phrase. For this very reason, in post #2, I wrote "了+ 苦", and not just "了苦".
     
  7. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    吃苦了苦,苦尽甘来;享福了福,福尽悲来
    中国有句俗话:"没有吃不了的苦,却有享不了的福。"
    了 in 吃苦了苦 and 吃不了的苦 means the same, i.e., 完畢、結束.
     
  8. Pierre_zane Junior Member

    Beijing
    Chinese
    I beg to differ! It is true that 了 here means 'to end', and I too have heard of the saying. But I don't think the 了 in the phrase bears the same meaning or assumes the same grammatical function.
    If someone diabetic wants to eat some thing with sugar, people would usually suggest: 这东西你吃不了, which do not suggest that he/she could not finish the food, but simply he/she cannot eat the food. And I think it is the same case for the 了 in 吃不了的苦
     
  9. SuperXW Senior Member

    I think both two usages (了苦/吃不了) were originally developed from the meaning of "to end", just today they are not exactly same.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  10. Pierre_zane Junior Member

    Beijing
    Chinese
    Firstly, the 了 in 了苦 is a verb, while in 吃不了 is an adverb.
    Secondly, they are different not only in terms of function but also in meaning. Let me take another example - You can respond to the question 吃得了吗?(Can you finish all the food by yourself?) by 吃了了。
    Here you can clearly sense the difference of the 2 了's. The first one is an adverb indicating the consequence - to eat up the whole thing; and the second, another adverb indicating the possibility of the action.
    I am no expert in Chinese grammer and don't know how to explain, just my two cents to show the complexity of this word.
     
  11. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    I was talking about their meaning (吃不了 = 吃不完; 了 = 完畢結束). I wasn't talking about their part of speech.
     
  12. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    I might be wrong, but I don't think they're too close semantically. 吃不了 seems to imply 'success' in finishing something, while 了卻 is somewhat broader, and is just ending something, like ending a period of suffering in the OP's example.
     

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