Learn Chinese Idioms - 对牛弹琴 [duì niú tán qín] play the lute to a cow

Learn Chinese Idioms - 对牛弹琴 [duì niú tán qín] play the lute to a cow

duì niú tán qín
对  牛  弹  琴  

to have [choose] the wrong audience; play one's guitar to an ox; preach to deaf ears; talk of ice to a butterfly; talk over people's heads; waste good acts on sb. who won't understand;
It's a negative idiom,you can't say it to your parents.It's rude.

dui niu tanqin

  duì
  对
  to,toward
 
  niú
  牛
  cow
 
  tán
  弹  
  to play; to pluck:

  qín
  琴  
  musical instrument

 

 

 

 

The Story:

In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was a master of zither. Unfortunately, his rash behavior often led him astray.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in a field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully, finding himself intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds, simply focusing its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised at this and could not comprehend the cow's flippant indifference. He felt that since his performance had been masterful, this means that the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!


For instance:

1.

tā bú huì shuō yīnɡ yǔ , yě tīnɡ bù dǒnɡ yīnɡ yǔ ,
他 不 会  说   英   语 , 也 听   不 懂   英   语 ,
He can't speak English,he can't understand English as well,
 
suó yǐ , nǐ ɡēn tā shuō yīnɡ yǔ , jiù shì duì niú tán qín 。
所  以 , 你 跟  他 说   英   语 , 就  是  对  牛  弹  琴  。
So,(If) you speak English with him,it's just like playing the lute to a cow(he won't understand).


2.

tā ɡēn běn bù dǒnɡ yì shù ,
他 根  本  不 懂   艺 术  ,
He doesn't know anything about art at all,

nǐ ɡēn tā tán yì shù , jiù shì duì niú tán qín 。
你 跟  他 谈  艺 术  , 就  是  对  牛  弹  琴  。
(If)you talk about art with him,it's just like playing your guitar to an ox,(he won't understand).


3.

wǒ ɡēn tā jiě shì le bàn tiān , tā hái shì bù dǒnɡ 。
我 跟  他 解  释  了 半  天   , 他 还  是  不 懂   。
I've explained it to him for hours,he still doesn't get it.

zhēn shì duì niú tán qín !
真   是  对  牛  弹  琴  !
What a preach to deaf ears!(This sentence is rude)