If you don’t know the source, call it a “Chinese Proverb”

“May you live in interesting times.”

This “Chinese Curse” is a wish for the recipient to experience trouble and strife. However, it had nothing to do with the Chinese or China, at least not in this form. Robert Kennedy was the one who popularized the saying in Cape Town in 1966, but the original stems from at least 1936, possibly 1929, and refers to “an interesting age.” Read a more detailed treatise here.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Again, not a Chinese proverb; originated rather by Anne Isabella Ritchie, daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, who wrote,

“He certainly doesn’t practise his precepts, but I suppose the patron meant that if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour; if you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.”

More details at The Phrase Finder

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it will always be yours. If it doesn’t come back, it was never yours to begin with.”

Nobody seems to know where this old saw comes from. Quote Investigator has some ideas, but one thing’s for certain – it’s not an “Ancient Chinese Proverb.”


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