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It seems like references to classical literature are unavoidable in virtually all materials enjoyed by native speakers - I was watching an episode of 蚁族的奋斗 where a group of young men are talking informally around the dinner table, and one of them casually spouts off "“实在不行了我回沂蒙山陪我妈种树去,当地主,娶个村姑,养条狗,这叫“门墩、胖狗、肥丫头,农夫山泉,它有点甜”。, after which they all laugh heartily. Now, I'm sure that there is some type of historical or literary context behind what he said, but I have been unable to find any indication as to a) which text this quotation was drawn from or b) how I ought to interpret it. More than the hanzi or the tones, it seems to me that cultural references pose the greatest challenge to learners of Chinese as a second language. Can anyone shed some light on this quotation, or point me towards a resource where its historical background is discussed?

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You stumped me on this one! I wouldn't laugh at all if I was at their table :P. –  deutschZuid Oct 25 '12 at 22:07

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I have not watched this drama so my interpret may not be accurate. From what is said, this line is self-mockery and ironic, but in a humorous and relaxed tone.

  • 门墩、胖狗、肥丫头 concludes the modest values of Chinese countrymen with a ragged verse. It doesn't look like from any specific reference, at least I am not aware of. However, in modern Chinese literature about country life (especially rural reform), there were some well known lines that were in the form of 3 words in parallel, such as “篱笆、女人和狗”. A similar construct may hint/recall similar subject or value statements.
  • 农夫山泉有点甜 is taken a famous TV commercial for 农夫山泉 (mineral water brand). This line is purely self-mockery. The subtext is "Even if I fail to struggle in the city, I become a peasant (against my own wish), at least I have sweet water to drink."
  • 沂蒙山 is national wide known for its poverty. Even the speaker does have aspirations for what he said, the "happily ever after" tone in his words is unlikely to realize. This context confirmed that his intent of these words is purely being self-mockery and humorous.
  • To summarize, what he really means is "There is no other option but to struggle in the city no matter how hard it is."

When his friends heard this and laughed, it means they shared the same feeling and the subtext could be "cheers to you, Mr. Brightside!"

Again these are just guesses without having watched the drama. Having heard of it from many friends, I'll probably watch it some time...

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Interesting. By the way what does “篱笆、女人和狗” mean? –  Question Overflow Oct 26 '12 at 2:21
    
@QuestionOverflow it illustrates a typical traditional farmer's village - during the day, men are out in the fields, the village is all about hedges, wives and watchdogs. It was a chapter name of a novel about mind liberation of Chinese farmers (w.r.t. acknowledging women have right to divorce or leave hometown.) –  NS.X. Oct 26 '12 at 2:50
    
I think it was also adapted into a TV series? I was very young when this was shown on TV. I think your interpretation is fairly good, especially when you've never read the novel. –  deutschZuid Oct 26 '12 at 5:26
    
Ah.. I see. Learn something new today :) –  Question Overflow Oct 26 '12 at 14:25

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