Lǎo mǎ shí tú
Translation: An old horse knows the way.
Meaning: Somebody who has been doing something for a long time knows a lot about it. An English equivalent would be: “An old hand knows the ropes.”
This proverb originates from Han Feizi, a work written by Han Feizi at the end of the Warring States Period (475 BCE–221 BCE) in China. Like many of his contemporaries, he liked to use fables and stories to explain his political philosophy.
During the Spring and Autumn period (770 BCE—476 BCE), Duke Huan of the State of Qi led his army in an attack against the State of Guzhu. As they were marching back in triumph, he and his army got lost on their way. They groped in a valley for days but failed to find their way out. Fear began to spread. None, however, seemed to know how to get themselves out of the predicament. They were about to give up when Prime Minister Guan Zhong clapped his forehead and said, “I got an idea!”
“Tell us,” the anxious Duke could not wait.
“Why can’t we put the wisdom of our horses to the test?” Guan Zhong said pacing his words, making the rest even more anxious. “How?” They asked in unison.
The composed Prime Minister continued, “Perhaps they know where to go!”
Sure enough, following their horses– the oldest one first– Duke of Huan and his army eventually came out of the mountains and reached the road to the capital. Smiles returned to the faces of Duke Huan and his troops. Stroking their horses, the soldiers exclaimed, “After all, an old horse knows his way.”
This proverb teaches us that seniors can put their experience to good use in a job and in the society.
|老||lǎo||old, veteran (Adj)|
|识||shí||to know, to be familiar with (V)|
|途||tú||way, route (N)|
|认识||rènshi||to know, to be acquainted with (V)|
|路途||lùtú||road, path (N)|
Our teacher is very experienced and knows what he is talking about, we should respect him!
That old cat really knew its way. It eventually returned to its owner’s home after it was abandoned several hundred miles away.