I eat salt more than you eat rice...

I was on the ChannelNewsAsia forum the other day when I came across this thread starter trying to link Japan's stock market performance to the recent Japan election.

Another forumer counter argued on his ideology and he responded with the phrase" I eat salt more than you eat rice..". This made me think about the meaning of the phrase since I am interested in throwing in a prank.

The phrase was originated from the Chinese who are rice eater. The Chinese phrase is actually "我食盐多过你食米”. Literally it means "I eat salt more than you eat rice", it is used to belittle someone who is younger or less experience. Of course for the Chinese where rice is a stapple food, a lot is consumed in a person's life time. So if someone can eat more salt than he eats rice, that person has indicated a vast difference in age and experience.

The problem with this is that one can never eat more salt than another eating rice, unless he is comparing himself to an infant. The catch of this phrase in Chinese is however the word "米", which tells that it is rice in raw form. The cooked rice is known as "饭“. The raw form is hard and difficult to chew, and the taste is definitely not pleasing. So naturally very few people eat more than a few grains in their lives. Thus making it logical.

However, when the whole phrase is translated into English, the chinese word is replaced by a single "rice" which does not specify if it is cooked or raw. So if a person uses this phrase in English, he has to justify by eating more and a single bowl of salt per meal throughout his life. Now, it become rediculous to do so.

So as a response, I replied "take care of your health, and you need to check with your doctor about your Hypertension".


Blogger 張三 said...


2:15 PM  
Blogger kyagi said...

Thanks for the explanation about this phrase. That's the one I couldn't get the meaning when I read a graded book "Leaving No Footprint" that is a story of a Chinese family. In the story, a daughter is speaking to his grandmother and her father scolded her about how she spoke to his grandma:

`Mr Li frowned. She shouldn't speak like that about her grandmother, he thought. Children these days have no respect for their elders. Aloud, he said in Cantonese, "Your grandmother is old. She has eaten more salt than you have eaten rice."

7:33 PM  

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