Can you help me find this Chinese proverb in Chinese?

If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time

I’d like to know the words in Chinese that a Mandarin speaker would recognize – assuming this really is a Chinese proverb

I have sometimes wondered if some “Chinese Proverbs” or “Wisdom of Confucius” are really that. They usually sound great - but it would be nice to quote them in Mandarin, and I have a hard time finding them. The stuff from the Analects is particularly frustrating, because although the entire set is online, you cannot easily link to whatever the supposed quote to a specific chapter/verse in the work itself

i can’t think/find reference to this…

Are you sure it isn’t one of those “This is a Chinese proverb I heard somewhere” quotes that has little or no relevance in Chinese. I am still thinking though and will ask around.

Are you sure it isn’t one of those “This is a Chinese proverb I heard somewhere” quotes that has little or no relevance in Chinese[/quote]
Yeah, that’s what I meant. These “Chinese proverbs” are actually “Fred’s words of wisdom”. Which isn’t necessarily bad per se, they are just not really Chinese proverbs

It looks fake to me. Chinese proverbs would rarely be that long and I would imagine a set of two rules or four rather than three. I don’t know, it just doesn’t even look at all like Chinese to me.

These guys agree:

Some incompetents on baidu totally missed the point of asking where this quotation comes from and translated it into really crappy Chinese:

That is certainly not a proverb. It hardly even qualifies as proper Chinese.

My interpreter classmates say the thing they fear most is when a Western speaker pulls out “As the great scholar Confucius once said…” because they have no idea what they’re talking about. The only option is to summarize in Chinese, but if it really is a Confucius quote, inevitably someone in the audience will find you after the event and say, “You know you got that Confucius quote all wrong.” If it’s not a Confucius quote, you still look like an idiot.

If I were translating this into Chinese, I would write something like: [quote]A proverb that the English-speaking world attributes to Chinese philosophers says…[/quote]

Another problem with this saying (aside from it not being Chinese) is that it is not well thought out - real proverbs have been well-honed, on the other hand.

Two things immediately come to mind: “if you must play” - what purpose does the “must” have here? It feels like the author wants to imply that there is something unusual or wrong with playing or that one plays only reluctantly. And “the rules of the game” is not something a single person decides, rules come about by practice and convention, involving may people. So, an improved version could read, “If you decide to play, be sure to understand these three things: the rules of the game, the stakes, and when it’s time to quit” or, “To play a game well, you need to know the rules, the stakes, and when it’s time to quit”…


i think it probably refers to betting/gambling, and the author discourages the act, but if it must happen then one needs to observe 3 rules.

if one was to translate the sentence and make it sound proverb like, my attempt is


ok fine, doesn’t sound like a proverb, reads like some fake classical writing

though some times I wonder if a so called Chinese proverb can’t be identified in Mandarin, if it belongs to other dialects, say Cantonese…

hansioux’s translation is much better. It may not read like a classic proverb, but it sounds like it could be a quote from a novel with a slightly classical bent or an intellectual-type thinker. :thumbsup: