It's the pot calling himself a black kettle!

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  • JJchang

    Senior Member
    NZ - English, Chinese
    五十步笑百步, you can find out the origin of this idiom from the Wikipedia.
     

    DernierVirage

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Hello!

    Does somebody know how to translate the English idiom: "It's the pot calling himself a black kettle!" An approximate equivalent is very welcome too! If you have any website that may help or provide this kind of idioms in both English and Mandarin, feel free to share!

    Thank you in advance!
    The correct idiom in English is "...the pot calling the kettle black."
     

    Geysere

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    The correct idiom in English is "...the pot calling the kettle black."
    In this case, is the "pot" actually blacker or less black than the "kettle"? :rolleyes:
    Because in the Chinese idiom, 五十步 is less than 百步, so it seems to me what the first person(五十步) has done is usually less grave/serious than the second person(百步).
     

    DernierVirage

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    No, the pot is more black than the kettle, and so for the pot to call the kettle black is a contradiction.

    For instance, if person X always drinks too much and yet criticises person Y for being drunk, we would say about X's statement that "this is the pot calling the kettle black".
     

    viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    I always had the impression that neither the pot nor the kettle was blacker, it's simply hypocritical for the pot to call the kettle black because it's black too.

    They have equality in their blackness :)
     

    DernierVirage

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    I always had the impression that neither the pot nor the kettle was blacker, it's simply hypocritical for the pot to call the kettle black because it's black too.

    They have equality in their blackness :)
    I had never thought about it this way, but it makes sense !

    My interpretation is based how how it was explained to me when I was small, but your version is just as good :)

    As for the Chinese saying, as Geysere said above, if it is expressed in terms of the pot and the kettle, it indeed implies that the pot is less black......

    Interesting how these subtle shades of meaning arise.
     

    Clement_Sun

    Member
    Chinese-mandrin
    If the kettle & the pot have equality in their blackness.
    then the suitable Chinese idiom should be 半斤八两 (e.g. -他是个酒鬼 -你们两个人半斤八两) as it means the two things have similar level of darkness.

    Attention: 半斤≠八两 now. but sometime in ancient time, they used to be equal. although time changed, the fixed phrase remained.
     
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    DernierVirage

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    If the kettle & the pot have equality in their blackness.
    then the suitable Chinese idiom should be 半斤八两 (e.g. -他是个酒鬼 -你们两个人半斤八两) as it means the two things have similar level of darkness.

    Attention: 半斤≠八两 now. but sometime in ancient time, they used to be equal. although time changed, the fixed phrase remained.
    For me, this above saying would be translated into English as "six of one and half a dozen of the other", where we are stressing the fact there is no real difference between two things that are being compared.

    However, the meaning of "the pot calling the kettle black" is completely different, as it is stressing that a person is himself guilty of the defect or fault that he is pointing out in someone else.
     

    Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    For me, this above saying would be translated into English as "six of one and half a dozen of the other", where we are stressing the fact there is no real difference between two things that are being compared.

    However, the meaning of "the pot calling the kettle black" is completely different, as it is stressing that a person is himself guilty of the defect or fault that he is pointing out in someone else.
    We call this an act/ atitude of 嚴人寬己 (to be hard on others but easy on themselves).
    In some extreme cases, we may say 賊喊捉賊 (a thief shouts "theft" - stressing more on the "preemptive strike" though).
    In Cantonese we simply say "有口話人冇口話自己"
     
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    Clement_Sun

    Member
    Chinese-mandrin
    For me, this above saying would be translated into English as "six of one and half a dozen of the other", where we are stressing the fact there is no real difference between two things that are being compared.

    However, the meaning of "the pot calling the kettle black" is completely different, as it is stressing that a person is himself guilty of the defect or fault that he is pointing out in someone else.
    Thanks for your correction. I didn't know that "the pot calling the kettle black" stresses things about guilty.

    The appropriate answer should be 五十步笑百步.
     

    avlee

    Senior Member
    Chinese - P.R.C.
    Good one!
    After an intense and insightgul discussion, the answer still goes to its original point.
    The story for 五十步笑百步 does contain a sense of guilty. Otherwise, he doesn't need to laugh at the others to ease the feeling of guilty.
     

    DernierVirage

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Good one!
    After an intense and insightgul discussion, the answer still goes to its original point.
    The story for 五十步笑百步 does contain a sense of guilty. Otherwise, he doesn't need to laugh at the others to ease the feeling of guilty.
    It's interesting to hear what you say here, since the key point about the pot and the kettle is that the pot has no idea that it is also black, in other words the pot has no guilty feelings whatsoever! So maybe the "pot/kettle" and the "五十步笑百步" are not exactly the same after all...
     
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    linglin66

    Member
    Chinese
    五十步笑百步, you can find out the origin of this idiom from the Wikipedia.
    相对于这个关于pot & kettle的idiom, “五十步笑百步”似乎偏于书面语,更为口语化的,在中文里有:和尚说秃子。不过意思都不错。

    参考。
     
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