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A long time ago I heard someone say:

"玩火会尿床"

Which I instantly recognized is very similar to some 'old wives tales' in English. In English there are things like:

from Wikipedia:

Cracking knuckles gives arthritis.

Don't go outside with wet hair or you will catch a cold.

Don't swallow gum or it will stay in your stomach for seven years.

Don't make silly faces or it will make the silly face permanent.

"Don't play with fire or you will wet the bed," seems pretty similar, no?

Questions:

What are Old Wives Tales called in Chinese?

Where can I find a list of similar Chinese old wives tales?

Or

What are some common Chinese old wives tales?

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3 Answers 3

I'm not sure we have a saying for "old wives tales". For the ones that works we call them 偏方 (Folk prescription), others are considered as 流言, 谣言 (rumor), 伪科学 (pseudoscience).

One of such saying is that you cannot wash your hair during menstrual period. Another is that you cannot eat certain food (e.g., orange and seafood) together, otherwise they'll become toxic.

You can find many of them here. Though it includes not only Chinese stories.

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俗语 is often used for adages that aren't necessarily as literary and high-brow as 成语, colloquial proverbs if you will. Not sure if that's what you're looking for in this context. I doubt there is a one-to-one equivalence for "old wives tales" in Chinese.

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These tales are used by adults(usually by grandma?) to prevent kids from doing something stupid. I know two of them:

西瓜子吃到肚子里就会长出小西瓜.
If you eat watermelon seed, little watermelon will grow up from your stomach.

吃耳屎会变成哑巴.
If you eat earwax, you will become dumb.

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Can we get some 字 for these puppies? –  user3306356 Jun 20 at 7:58
    
"These tales are used by adults(usually by grandma?) to prevent kids from doing something stupid." Yeah, at least something they deem 'stupid.' –  user3306356 Jun 20 at 7:59
    
@user3306356 Yes. But, "Don't go outside with wet hair or you will catch a cold." seems very reasonable to me, isn't it? –  songyuanyao Jun 20 at 8:10
1  
It is, though, just an old wives tale. "Colds are actually caused by viruses," not by having wet hair! –  user3306356 Jun 20 at 8:14

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