成語故事

To Contradict Oneself

In ancient times there lived a weapons manufacturer who took some of the spears and shields he had made out into the street to sell. He held up a spear, and said to the crowed surrounding him, "My spears are the sharpest in all the world. There is nothing they cannot pierce." He handed a spear to the people so they could have a closer look, and then held up a shield, saying, "Look! These shields of mine are made from the finest leather. They are the strongest shields in all the world; there is nothing that can pierce them." And he handed a shield to the people for them to observe.

Just then an old man raised his voice and asked, "And if one were to use one of your spears to try to pierce one of your shields - what would happen then?"

At this question, the weapons manufacturer was completely at a loss for words, he did not know what to say.

The Chinese word for "contradiction" - "mau-dun" - literally means "spear-shield".

自相矛盾

市場裏,熱鬧非凡,到處都是吆喝聲和討價還價聲。這時,有一個大嗓門的人喊了起來:「各位,你們看到沒有?我手中的這支矛,是世界上最鋒利的矛,不管什麼東西都能刺穿。」看熱鬧的人羣都圍了過來,有幾個人半信半疑的接過長矛,交頭接耳的討論著。過了不久大嗓門的人拿起一塊盾牌又說:「各位,先不忙著看矛,我手中這面盾牌更是稀奇,即使再尖銳的東西,也刺不穿。」圍觀的群眾聽了他這番話,都覺得很好奇,紛紛拿起面前的矛和盾仔細比較,有的人已經在掏錢包,準備買下這兩件稀世的寶貝了。這時,人群前忽然有個梳著沖天辮的小孩,天真的問道:「大叔!您這矛是天下最鋒利的東西對不對?」
大嗓門的人神氣的點了點頭說:「是呀!」
孩童又問:「那您這盾是天下堅硬的東西對不對?」
大嗓門的人仍舊回說:「對呀!」
孩童歪著頭眨著眼睛一副很不懂的樣子,繼續說:「那麼拿天下最利的東西去刺天下最硬的東西,究竟會怎麼樣呢?」
人群中突然響起一陣哄堂大笑,那位大嗓門的人頓時啞口無言,趁著人們笑得七仰八翻的時候,面紅耳赤的溜走了。

這是戰國時代韓非子說的一段故事,後來我們就用「自相矛盾」來形容一個人言行前後不一致。


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