Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched | jy.catholic.org.hk

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Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched

刊登日期: 2017.01.21
作者: Grace Tse  

In less than a week, Chinese people all over the world will celebrate the Year of the Chicken (or the Year of the Rooster). While many Chinese people believe that the zodiac animal signs of their year of birth may affect their personalities and fortune, the sign system in Western astrology is different. However, in the English language, there is a proverb which uses the word “chicken” to give people advice. 

The football team has scored two goals already, but wait till the end of the match. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched (雞蛋還沒孵化,就別去數小雞;不要過早樂觀). 

This proverb warns us not to assume that something good we hope for will really happen. In other words, our hopes might not come true in the end, and we should wait and see. 

One of the earliest versions of this proverb was found in a poem written by Thomas Howell, a British poet, in 1570. 

“Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” is British English whereas “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” is American English. 

The proverb may have originated from an Aesop (伊索)fable entitled “The Milkmaid and Her Pail” (《擠牛奶姑娘與她的牛奶桶》), written more than 2,500 years ago. In this fable, a milkmaid is carrying a pail of milk on her head. On the way to the market, she daydreams about what she will do with the money she will get after selling the milk. She plans to buy eggs. When the eggs are hatched, they will become chickens. As she is so absorbed in her idea, she tosses her head and drops the pail. So a form of this proverb appears at the end of the fable. 

Finally, may this Chinese New Year bring you good health and good fortune! 


Glossary

Rooster 雄雞
Zodiac animal signs 生肖
Personalities 性格
Fortune 運氣、財富、命運
Astrology 占星術
Assume 假設
Daydreams 發白日夢
Absorbed 沉醉

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