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Home truth 家丑不可外扬

[ 2009-03-13 13:45]     字号 [] [] []  
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Home truth 家丑不可外扬Reader question: What is a “home truths”, as in this headline – It’s time to tell America some home truths, Prime Minister (Guardian Observer, March 1, 2009)?

My comments: Home truths are the bitter and unpleasant truths, or facts that you don’t always tell other people if you can help it.

Well, because folks by nature don’t want to hear what is jarring to the ear.

Home truth 家丑不可外扬

It’s called “home truths” because presumably these facts are best kept at home, in house, in the inner circle, within the family and not to be known by outsiders, you know, relatives, neighbors and society at large. The term is quite reminiscent, you see, of a Chinese saying in similar vein, 家丑不可外扬.

Well, because you do not want to air your dirty linen in public, 家丑 being the dirty linen - dark and dirty secrets, all the terrible things Chinese family members do to each other (No examples however, not here, not this time ^-^).

If you tell someone the home truth, you give the fact as it is, calling a spade a spade. You tell it bluntly – no hiding anything and no equivocating. That is, you don’t have to choose your words but simply give a straight forward account, telling whole story, warts and all – including the bad, and in fact especially the bad, the things they may not expect to hear.

In fact, in telling them the home truths, you often mean to critique, criticize and condemn.

Here are a few examples of home truths from news headlines: 1. Home truth for Glazers: only the best will suffice - The Independent, November 27, 2005. 2. Chelsea 0 Newcastle 0: Scolari faces home truth - DailyMail.co.uk, November 23, 2008. 3. Home truth: IT needs to zoom in on local growth - IndianTimes.com, July 31, 2003.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.