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I teach my students to use Chinese language idioms or phrases in their composition so that they can get higher marks. Unfortunately, with their English-speaking family background, most of them can write well in English language but not Chinese language. One of my students even told me that there is no equivalent translation of Chinese language for some common English language phrases. (She wants to translate directly from English language to Chinese language). I want to prove her wrong.
1. 狼吞虎咽 → wolf down
狼 = wolf
虎 = tiger
吞、咽 = swallow
This idiom means someone eats hurriedly and hungrily like a wolf and a tiger.
He has not been eating for a day; once he sees the food, he wolfs down the food immediately.
2. 一眨眼之间 → in a blink of an eye
一眨眼 = a blink
之间 = in between
This phrase means something happens so quickly that it is done before you realize it.
Mother prepares the dinner in a blink of an eye.
3. 热锅上的蚂蚁 → like a cat on hot bricks
热锅上 = in the hot pot
蚂蚁 = an ant / ants
This idiom indicates an ant in a hot pot, which means a person is anxious or nervous.
The younger sister is missing; the mother is like a cat on hot bricks.
There may be no direct translation between the two languages, but we can try to find similar phrases that have the same meaning. Instead of using Google Translate, we can try Google Search to search the phrase, you may be surprised that there is an equivalent phrase. Are there other phrases or idioms in English language or Chinese language that you find difficult to translate?