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Pay the piper, call the tunes

[ 2010-03-16 17:31]     字号 [] [] []  
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Pay the piper, call the tunes
Lee Hannon

Reader's question: As the old saying goes, "he who pays the piper, calls the tunes," and cloud computing will make it clearer exactly who the piper is-and the piper is going to ask for different tunes going forward. Could you explain “pay the piper, call the tunes”?

My comments:

He who pays the piper calls the tune is an old idiom that dates back to the late 1800s and is possibly based on the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin although the exact origin is not clear. It means the person that covers the cost of something then has the authority over it.

For instance, say a woman asks a decorator to paint her living room in a particular mix of colors but the painter feels it is a terrible choice and won’t work, it doesn’t matter as he or she who pays the piper calls the tune and the woman has the right to ask for whatever mix of colors she desires. The person who pays the expense for something is in control.

Another example may be in a work setting where the boss asks an employee to do a task in a particular way, the employee may not like the way they are being asked, but the person who pays the piper calls the tune and they must follow the wishes of their boss.

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About the author:

Lee Hannon is a journalist at China Daily website with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.