Ainsling watched as Aaliyah wrote down the memorized phrase, “Bian chang mo ji.”
Ellen Cheng read it, paused from her knitting, and looked thoughtful. She then drew some Chinese characters. It looked very complex.
“That’s beautiful,” Ainsling commented.
“Thanks,” said Ellen. “This is the way to write this idiom in simplified Chinese.”
“An idiom?” Ainsling asked.
“An idiom is like a proverb. Written Chinese languages aren’t words, but pictures. The phrase ‘bian chang mo ji’ can be interpreted different ways, depending on the context. The literal translation is, ‘not even the longest whip can reach everywhere.’”
“Seriously? What’s that supposed to mean? ” Aaliyah asked.
“It could also be interpreted this way, ‘beyond the reach of one’s power,’ or ‘too far away to be able to help.’ It depends on the situation and circumstances. It’s a very old saying. The Guardian didn’t explain it?”
“No, the Guardian didn’t.