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While rereading Taipei People by Pai Hsien-yung I encountered this phrase:

勿要面孔的東西, 看你楣到啥個辰光!

Which, in the English translation comes out as:

Shameless things! Let's see how long you can keep crossing me!"

Am I right to interpret this as "Let's see for how long the lintel can hold up your house!", i.e., let's see how long you can keep going before something's going to turn sour for you?

2 Answers 2

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楣 is seemingly short for 倒楣 in this context

倒楣”一詞本是江浙一帶的方言,指事不順利或運氣壞。此語產生的時間算來不長,大約在明朝末年。那時候,由於“八股取士”的科舉制度嚴重地限制了廣大知識分子的聰明才智的發揮,加之考場舞弊之風甚盛,所以一般的讀書人要想中舉是極不容易的。為了求個吉利,舉子們在臨考之前一般都要在自家門前豎起一根旗杆,當地人稱之為“楣”。考中了,旗杆照豎不誤,考不中就把旗杆撤去,叫作“倒楣”。後來,這個詞被愈來愈多的人用於口語和書面,值得一提的是,在運用這個詞語過程中,人們常把這兩個字寫作“倒眉”或“倒黴”,這當然是由於不懂得它的來源的緣故。

倒楣(being luckless)

勿要面孔的東西, 看你(倒)楣到啥個辰光!

Shameless thing, let's see how long you will keep being luckless (你这个不要脸的东西,看你还要倒楣到什么时候)

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光耀门楣:
做出了让家门荣耀的事情。
do something to bring honour to one's family.

光宗耀祖:
宗:宗族;clan

祖:祖先。ancestors

指子孙做了官出了名,使祖先和家族都荣耀。
refers to offspring become famous, create honour and glory for ancestors and clan

勿要面孔的東西, 看你楣到啥個辰光!
O ye bereft of honour, let's see if you still dazzle in the daylight!

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  • Thank you for your answer. What's your take on Tang Ho's reply? To me that one makes more sense.
    – timseb
    Jun 1 at 18:33
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    This is correct. Too many people mistaken 倒楣 as 倒霉。This is so rampant that even dictionaries now have an entry for 倒霉。「封建时代,读书人要做官,都要参加科举考试。明朝时,考试录取很难,如果录取了,就在门前立旗杆一根;如果考不中,就把旗杆倒下拿走,称为“倒楣”。“楣”本是门上的横木,这里指高杆。“楣”与“霉”读音相近,江浙一带的人就把遇事运气不好、不吉利叫“倒楣”亦即“倒霉”了。」--- 百度
    – joehua
    Jun 1 at 18:41
  • I must ask for clarification from you @joehua. Are you saying that Pedroski or Tang Ho have provided the correct answer? If I understand you're reply, you also think 楣 is shorthand for 倒楣? I have unmarked my question as answered since I'm still not quite sure what the correct answer is.
    – timseb
    Jun 2 at 7:23
  • @timseb 楣in your question is, of course, 倒楣. Tang Ho translated it into luckless. That's correct. I said Pedroski is correct because he pointed out the origin of 楣, which is 門楣. I don't agree with Tang Ho's claim that 倒楣 = 倒霉. No matter how popular it is, it's a mistake. Even though dictionaries now have an entry for 倒霉, I still think it a mistake.
    – joehua
    Jun 2 at 12:47
  • @joehua 「倒霉」在民間大眾廣為通流,很難再認定為錯誤,就像「殺手鐧」一詞已經脫離了其根源「撒手鐧」,成了獨立被認可的近義詞, I edited my answer to reflect the original text referring to 倒楣, not the similar meaning 倒霉
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 2 at 13:49

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