沉默是金 — Silence is Golden

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Dear Monty,

沉默是金 translates to “silence is golden”.

Silence is Golden

One of the earliest use of silence is golden is by Thomas Carlyle in 1833, in his novel, Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Reufeldröchkh, a mostly philosophical and sometimes satirical novel. He writes:

沉默是金

Chinese texts do not seem to compare silence to speech as Western sources do. In fact, looking at the Chinese characters for silence is interesting. 默 means quiet and 沉 means submerged. Submerged in quietness, in silence, seems like it has a contemplative, even meditative quality to it. Like other Chinese proverbs, 沉默是金 has a story behind it which I found on https://idiom.wlps.kl.edu.tw/story/36204. It is a story of three gold men which I translate and interpret as follows.

Three Gold Men

What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. — Montaigne