Castles in the air | jy.catholic.org.hk

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Castles in the air

刊登日期: 2018.05.18
作者: Grace Tse  

Young people are always encouraged to have aspirations about their futures. What is your aspiration? Can you make it a reality? While some people think that a high ambition can boost young people’s motivation to work hard, some are concerned that having a grand aspiration is simply building “castles in the air”. 

A castle is a strong and large building which was built by European kings or noblemen in the Middle Ages. Since it is constructed of massive stones, it is impossible to make a castle in the sky. Thus, the expression “castles in the air” implies that the plans or ideas are simply fantasies which are completely unrealistic. 

This English expression is believed to have been translated from a French essay written by Michel de Montaigne, a famous French philosopher, in the 16th century. 

“… a mere building of castles in the air …” 

However, some scholars think that it has a variant, “castles in Spain”. This was originally “chateaux en Espagne” which appeared in a French poem as early as the 13th century. Since Spain was ruled by the Islamic Moors(信奉伊斯蘭教的摩爾人), it would be difficult to build castles there. Thus, the French poet used this metaphor to refer to an idle fancy

Interestingly, the expression “castles in the air” has a similar phrase in the Chinese language. However, the architecture is a Chinese-style pavilion or tower. The Chinese idiom, 空中樓閣, originated from a book about the philosophy of Zhu Xi (朱熹)in the Song dynasty(13th century).  


Glossary

 

Aspirations 
志願
Ambition 
抱負
Motivation 
動機
Noblemen 
貴族
Fantasies 
空想
Philosopher 
哲學家
Idle fancy 
無聊的幻想
Pavilion 
亭;閣

 

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