Short story: 《卜妻为裤》Buzi’s wife makes a pair of pants

A gentleman named Buzi (卜子) asks his wife (卜妻) to make him a new pair of pants (裤子), but he doesn’t give her very clear instructions. HSK 3-4.

Public service announcement: you may or may not have heard that the HSK system is about to get a major overhaul for the first time in a decade. There will now be 9 HSK levels instead of 6, so my half-assed grading system on this site is about to become inaccurate. But the details aren’t totally clear yet, so guess I’ll be sticking with this until we know more.

Anyway, in this story, a gentleman named Buzi (卜子 – bǔ zi) asks his wife (卜妻 – bǔ qī) to make him a new pair of pants (裤子 – kù zi), but he doesn’t give her very clear instructions.

Source here.

Some language stuff

First, a note on the use of 为 in the title 《卜妻为裤》. 为 has so many meanings in Chinese, in this case the definition used is “to make”.

A couple key words that will inform your understanding of the story:

讲究 jiǎng jiu – You may have learned this one already, but if you don’t know it, it’s crucial to understanding the plot. 讲究 means to be meticulous or fastidious about something. The phrased used here is 不讲究穿着 – “to not be fastidious about what one is wearing”.

破烂 pò làn – This means ragged, ripped or torn. 破, by itself, usually means “broken”, in this story, it is used to mean “tattered”.

zhào – We usually first learn this character in the word 照片, “photograph”, and 照 is also present in a lot of words that have to do with light, like 照亮 zhào liàng, to illuminate or shine upon. But that is not the definition of 照 being used here. In this case, 照 is short for 按照 àn zhào, to be based on, or 仿照 fǎng zhào, to imitate or follow.

Want something easier?

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Show English translation »
Long ago, there lived a man named Buzi.

He typically wasn’t meticulous about what he wore, and often went out wearing ragged clothes.

One day, same as usual he went out wearing a pair of dirty, torn pants, but when he walked onto the street, many people were looking at his torn pants, and he felt quite embarrassed, so be bought a piece of cloth, and went back home to ask his wife to make him a new pair of pants.

Buzi’s wife took measurements, asking him: “In what kind of style should the pants be made?”

Buzi casually answered, “Base them on the old style!”

[His] wife thought her husband like that kind of dirty, tattered style, so she thought: Does he feel that wearing this kind of pants is comfortable, and feel that one pair isn’t enough, so he asked me to make another?

Buzi’s wife diligently followed the old style, poking a few holes here, smearing some oil there, making them wrinkled and tattered. [After] expending no small amount of effort, they were finally done.

She put the pants in front of Buzi, and pleased with herself said: “Satisfied? The same style as your old pants.”

When speaking you must speak clearly, especially in important matters.

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