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Chengyu Story: To make up a number without active work
The Chengyu 滥竽充数 (làn yú chōnɡ shù) means "to make up a number without active work". The man in the story was included in a band to play the Yu (an old Chinese wind instrument), but he had no idea how to play the Yu. This idiom is used to refer to a person who hold the post without qualification. It means to pass oneself off as one of the players in an ensemble, to be there just to make up the number.
滥 làn = false, corrupt
竽 yú = Yu (Chinese wind instrument)
充 chōnɡ = to act as, pretend to be
数 shù = number, figure
In ancient times, King Xuan of Qi was fond of music, especially of playing Yu. There are 300 musicians who are good at playing Yu. King Xuan of Qi liked to be lively and ostentatious. He always wanted to show his Majesty in front of people. So, every time he played Yu, he always asked these 300 people to play together with him. A Mr. Nanguo heard about this hobby of King Xuan of Qi. He thought that there was an opportunity to make money. He went to King Xuan of Qi and boasted that he said, "king, I am a famous musician. Anyone who has heard me play the Yu is moved. Even birds and animals can dance, and flowers and plants will vibrate in accordance with the rhythm. I would like to present my unique skills to the king.” King Xuan of Qi was glad to hear that, but he did not investigate. He was very happy to accept him and put him into the 300 member Yu playing team.
After that, Mr. Nanguo played with the 300 people to King Xuan of Qi. He was very proud of his generous salary and reward. In fact, Mr. Nanguo told a big lie. He couldn't play Yu at all. Every time he played, Mr. Nanguo just copied the other players in his team. When people shaked their bodies, he shaked his body, and when they shaked their heads, he also shaked his head. He seemed to be playing like the others. In this way, Mr. Nanguo got through day after day by deception and got a big salary for nothing.
However, the good times are not long. After a few years, King Xuan of Qi, who loved to listen to his Yu ensemble, died, and his son King Qimin succeeded to the throne. King Qimin also liked to listen to Yu playing, but unlike King Xuan of Qi, he thought it was too noisy for 300 people to play together. It's not as melodious as a solo. So, King Qimin issued an order to the 300 people to practice and prepare well. He would let them take turns to play the Yu one by one. After knowing the order, the musicians practiced actively and wanted to show their skills. Only Mr. Nanguo, who made up his number, was as anxious as an ant on a hot pot. He thought about it and thought that he could not get through this time. He had to pack up all night and run away.
How to use 滥竽充数:
那个 女孩 根本 就 不会 跳舞,还 在这里 滥竽充数
(nàɡè nǚhái ɡēnběn jiù búhuì tiàowǔ, hái zàizhèlǐ lànyúchōnɡshù)
That girl is only making up a number. She can’t dance at all.
一起 背课文 的 时候,就 有人 滥竽充数
(yìqǐ bèikèwén de shíhou, jiù yǒurén lànyúchōnɡshù)
There is always someone who makes up a number when reciting.
我 从来 不 滥竽充数,总是 认认真真地 做事。
(wǒ cónɡlái bú lànyúchōnɡshù, zǒnɡshì rènrènzhēnzhēndì zuòshì)
Instead of making up a number without active work, I do things very carefully.