The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends

  • ovaltine888

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese & Shanghaiese
    Frankly speaking, I've never heard of it. I don't even know the Chinese version of this idiom.

    Literally, I guess it implies that a man of higher standing should have more humility.

    But I believe it is rarely used.
     
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    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    After checking my dictionary of Chinese idioms, I still couldn't find a match.
    There were still lots of ancient works that I didn't know. I'm not sure whether they've said something similar. But even there was the saying, it may not be familiar to most native Chinese people.
    It could be a Western-created proverb attributed to Chinese or Japanese.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I found this explanation:

    Screen Shot 2021-12-02 at 11.54.48 PM.png


    Source: News from Viet-Nam
     

    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    Here's what I've found:
    • 竹子長得越高,彎得越低。」 [...] 一個驕傲自大的人,如何能成就偉大的事業。 (2009 年,金門日報)
    • 「稻穗愈飽頭愈低,竹子愈高腰愈彎。」這是鄉下阿伯用來家教的話。 (2017 年,人間福報)
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    The Japanese proverb, which still seems to me the original quote, goes:
    実るほどこうべをたれる稲穂かな
    The more ripens the ear of rice, the lower the rice bends its head.

    I am curious to know what Vietnamese and Urdu have for their proverbs!
     

    Graciela J

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    I have known it in Spanish: "Cuanto más alto (es) el bambú, más bajo se encorva". Strangely, when I searched it in Google it says that it's a proverb from the Phillipines.
     

    Marsianitoh

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    Joxemiel Barandiaran, a Basque anthropologist and etnographer used to say that her mum gave him the best piece of advice ever . He was back on holiday at his family farm , he had excelled in his studies, and there was every reason for him to feel proud of himself. Nevertheless, his mum took him to the orchad and pointing to the apple trees she said: Look, the more fruit they bear, the lower the branches bend: " Zenbat eta beteago, orduan eta apalago"
     
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    chatkigazouille

    Senior Member
    Indonesian
    There is a similar proverb in Indonesian. Don't know if this is of Chinese/Japanese origin, but it says:

    (ID) Tirulah ilmu* padi, semakin berisi, semakin merunduk.
    (EN) Imitate the manner of the paddies, the fuller they are, the more they bend.

    *ilmu literally means science

    It means the more knowledge one has, the humbler one should be.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Joxemiel Barandiaran, a Basque anthropologist and etnographer used to say that her mum gave him the best piece of advice ever . He was back on holiday at his family farm , he had excelled in his studies, and there was every reason for him to feel proud of himself. Nevertheless, his mum took him to the orchad and pointing to the apple trees she said: Look, the more fruit they bear, the lower the branches bend: " Zenbat eta beteago, orduan eta apalago"
    But then that would refer to humility, I guess. Or am I mistaken: the older we become, the more we (ought to) become humble?
     

    Marsianitoh

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    But then that would refer to humility, I guess. Or am I mistaken: the older we become, the more we (ought to) become humble?
    It refers to humility, just like the versions with the bamboo and the rice, the wiser you become ( fuller of knowledge, like the tree full of apples), the humbler you should become.
     
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