Etymology of Intriguing Proverbs and Common Sayings in China (Part II)

Etymology of Intriguing Proverbs and Common Sayings in China (Part II)
– Taught by Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer

Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30pm
10 sessions (20 hours)
April 9 – June 11
Tuition: $465 members / $505 non-members
(plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee)

All languages are interesting, but nonpareil is Chinese, a blending of music and painting: spoken Chinese being singing, music, and written Chinese painting, fine art. When the two come to unite, it’s the birth of a language whose visceral characteristic glows, as opposed to the cerebral nature of all of the other languages in the world.

The spirit of Chinese culture lies in its written characters/symbols, for each and every character has a pictographic story to tell. When one learns the stories within them, these written symbols amaze with their wondrousness. They reflect a connection between Nature and human life and emotions: a truly unique linguistic phenomenon, functioning as the soul of a culture. Etymology of these characters thus became the quintessential path to the learning and appreciation of the language and the culture of China.

Rich and colorful, the Chinese proverbs and common sayings, mostly 4-character phrases, concise but deep in their meanings, take a special place in Chinese culture, illustrating moral and emotional expressions. The philosophical and often incisive messages the proverbs carry are alternately somber, didactic, amusing, hilarious or ironic. Used properly in writings or speeches, they can achieve what cannot be achieved by other ways of articulating the same thoughts.

Taught by Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer of China Institute, writer on classical Chinese literature, and award-winning translator, this unique10-session course in English that blends etymology and the ever-so-popular genre of proverbs, common sayings, and idioms of China will cover some of the most poignant and evocative among the thousands of phrases of this literary form. Previous knowledge of Chinese is not required.

If you have any questions, please contact Tina Fang at [email protected], call 212-744-8181, ext. 150, or submit your information through our contact form online.


Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer in Language and Humanities at China Institute, Co-Chair of the Renwen Society of China Institute, and Instructor of Chinese at the United Nations Language Program. An award-winning published translator, Ben Wang has taught and lectured on the Chinese language, calligraphy, and classical Chinese literature at Yale, Columbia, Barnard, Williams, U.C. Berkeley, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, ABC Nightline, the BBC, among other academic and cultural institutions. Ben Wang taught Chinese and translation at Columbia University and New York University between 1969 and 1991.

Instructor: Ben Wang