A good ‘un

I was checking online whether my translation from Portuguese into English of a Chinese proverb matched the commonly accepted rendition in English. As one does.

I should mention that I do not normally take the answers found at wiki.answers.com as Gospel for obvious reasons, but have occasionally found some useful leads there by way of keywords to factual explanations sought for more technical matters.

The most common English version of the proverb in question is:

Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile.

I am not opening a shop, but smiling seemed the only sane thing to do today:


Doing un must be so much fun – especially as it occurs at the same time as several people doing un straight back at you! I don’t think I have ever done un before. I am an un virgin, so to speak.

I do have issues with this particular definition, though.

My take on this Chinese proverb is that it means exactly what is says, with the implication being that if you open a shop and do not smile at your customers, you won’t be in business for very long.

It is basic, yet sound, advice.

Here is some more:

If you don’t know how to spell a word, look it up.

If your version of the spelling of that word is so horrendous that you cannot find it in your (online) dictionary, don’t use it. Find a different way to say what you want to say. 

Do as you would be done by.

– is a “be kind to your readers” alternative in this case.

After hours, feel free to do un.


I have always known the saying to be, “Unto thine own self be true”. Apparently, Shakespeare left off the un:

This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I,Scene III

If the above use of “unto” is a family misquotation, we have been blissfully aware of that fact until now. In any case, my family’s version of the saying mangled in the WikiAnswer above adds a different shade of meaning to the proverb:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

(totally un done)


2 thoughts on “A good ‘un

Add yours

  1. i love this. it made me smile and i was educated too! 🙂 yes it is so true and weirdly enough i have been learning it again this weekend. it is quite hard sometimes tho, as we have to choose between ourselves and others, our inconvenience vs love for our neighbour. as a very private person, i have to make the choice every time, does not always come natural. but i do find the saying about the shop can also be used when it comes to our hearts. open it to others, not expecting anything back, but only expecting that by the act of opening the doors we may invite love in. and be surprised, for love will come in and fill the rooms we did not realize had been standing empty. 🙂 love your writing.


  2. I love it when others put poetry of their own in comments on my blog.
    Smiles are important, too. My partner, who is now disabled, and needs to be lifted out of bed, said one day as I was performing this task, “I love the smile you give me every morning!” The strange thing was that I had never realised that this I what I do every day when I greet her.


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