Chinese Idiom Story “濫竽充數”

During the Warring States Period (zhàn guó 战国,475-221BC),the King of the State of Qi (qí guó 齐国) was very keen on listening to a traditional musical instrument called Yu (yǖ, 竽) ensembles. He used to require 300 Yu players to form a grand music together thus to express his generosity. These musicians could get rather handson payment through playing for the ruler. A man named Nanguo (nán guō 南郭) learned about that and he wanted badly to become a member of the band due to the big money,even though he was not good at playing the instrument at all. Things went on very smoothly just as Nanguo planed. He successfully got a positon in the Yu band. Whenever the band played for the king,Nanguo just stood in the line,pretending that he was playing with his home heart and soul. However, not even one person paid attention to his fake playing.

Good times don’t last long. Several years later,the old king passed away,his son took office,who also enjoyed the beautiful music played on the Yu. However,contrary to his father,he preferred solos to choir so that he was able to appreciate the very essence of the music quitely. Therefore,he commanded the musicians to come forward and play the Yu one by one for him. Nanguo was frightened to death as soon as he hearing the news,he had no choice but to package hastily and run out of the palace. Afterwards,the idiom “Be there just to make up the number” is used to sneer at someone who disguises himselves as a profession in a certain field but is a layman indeed.

古時候,齊國的國君齊宣王愛好音樂,尤其喜歡聽吹竽,他手下有300個善于吹竽的樂師。齊宣王喜歡熱鬧,講究宏大的排場,所以每次聽吹竽的時候,總是叫這300個人在一起合奏給他聽,並給這些樂手們很豐厚的報酬。有個南郭先生聽說了齊宣王的這個愛好,心裏癢癢的,他雖然對竽一無所知,但覺得這是個賺錢的好機會。于是南郭跑到齊宣王那裏去,吹噓自己的竽吹得有多好,齊宣王聽後便信以爲真了,很爽快地收下了他。這以後,南郭先生就隨那300人一塊兒合奏給齊宣王聽,每逢演奏的時候,南郭先生就捧著竽混在隊伍中,人家搖晃身體他也搖晃身體,人家擺頭他也擺頭,臉上裝出一副動情忘我的樣子,居然沒有被任何人看出破綻來。

但是好景不長,過了幾年,齊宣王死了,他的兒子繼承了王位。年輕的王子也愛聽吹竽,可是他和齊宣王不一樣,他認爲獨奏更加動聽,一群人一塊兒吹實在太吵。于是新國王要求樂師們一個一個地在他面前演奏。南郭先生得到這個消息之後嚇出了一身冷汗。他想來想去,覺得這次再也混不過去了,只好連夜收拾行李逃走了。從此以後,“濫竽充數”就用來形容那些沒有真實才幹,只是混飯吃的人。

濫竽充數 (làn yū chōng shù)
【翻譯】Be there just to make up the number.
【釋義】形容那些沒有真實才幹,只是混飯吃的人。

Xíngróng nàxiē méiyǒu zhēnshí cáigàn, zhǐshì hùn fàn chī de rén.
【例句】無論工作和學習都不能濫竽充數,這樣最終會害了自己。

Wúlùn gōngzuò hé xuéxí dōu bùnéng lànyúchōngshù, zhèyàng zuìzhōng huì hàile zìjǐ.
【近義詞】名不副實、掩人耳目

Míngbùfùshí, yǎnrén’ěrmù


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