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I would like to have a proper translation of 此地无银三百两 with a similar story in English.

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    "What is an English idiom/story/phrase/translation of ..." is not a Chinese language question. You should ask the question on an English-related forum, and put the effort into describing the item you want the English equivalent of. See chinese.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1665/…
    – dROOOze
    Commented May 5 at 6:12

3 Answers 3

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There is a recent one called The Streisand effect

The Streisand effect is an unintended consequence of attempts to hide, remove, or censor information, where the effort instead increases public awareness of the information. The effect is named for American singer and actress Barbra Streisand,

What Barbra Streisand did could be called 此地无银三百两

A similar Chinese idiom is 欲蓋彌彰

形容想要掩飾過失,反而使過失更加明顯 - Describes trying to cover up a fault, but making it more obvious.

此地无银三百两, The Streisand effect and 欲蓋彌彰 can all be used to describe "calling unwanted attention onto something by trying to hide it"

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  • Are these, i.e., 欲说还休,欲罢不能,欲哭无泪,欲擒故纵, the same (effect ) as the example you gave above? Commented May 5 at 1:35
  • your examples are all unrelated phrases. 欲 = want to
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 5 at 1:59
  • @NanningYouth, Good examples of the same structure as 欲盖弥彰 (欲蓋彌彰), as you listed here: 欲说还休,欲罢不能,欲哭无泪,欲擒故纵. The second word is a verb, and the fourth is another word (verb or other types) that is opposite in meaning. They all indicate 适得其反, 事与愿违.
    – PdotWang
    Commented May 6 at 11:40
  • @Tang Ho, 欲盖弥彰 (欲蓋彌彰) is the best 成语 for 此地无银三百两 that is very helpful to CSL study.
    – PdotWang
    Commented May 6 at 11:45
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As we all know that 此地无银三百两 refers to the act of drawing attention to something by trying to conceal it, often with the result of having the opposite effect.

A similar one in English is "A guilty conscience needs no accuser" This idiom means that someone who is guilty of something will often feel guilty even if they are not accused of anything.

There is also a story that goes like this:-

Once upon a time, there was a man named John who was known for his honesty. One day, John was walking through the town square when he saw a group of people gathered around a man who was shouting and waving his arms. The man was accusing another person of stealing his money.

John, being the honest man that he was, stepped forward and said, "I can assure you that this man is innocent. I saw him with his money just a few minutes ago."

The crowd turned to look at John, and the man who had been accused of stealing immediately pointed at John and said, "See! This man is a liar! He's trying to cover up for me because he's the one who stole my money!"

The crowd was shocked, and they began to murmur among themselves. John tried to explain that he was telling the truth, but the crowd was no longer listening. They had already decided that John was guilty.

John was arrested and taken to jail, where he was tried and convicted of theft. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

When John was finally released from prison, he was a changed man. He had learned his lesson about protesting too much. He knew that the more he tried to deny something, the more people would believe it.

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    A guilty conscience needs no accuser is a good description of 不打自招
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 4 at 18:03
  • Is this story a well-known one? If not, it is not the good example the OP wants. Commented May 5 at 1:30
  • It is difficult to find an exact old traditional Idiom with a fitting back story in English to fit perfectly 此地无银三百两. Since Tang Ho has already done the Streisand Effect, (which is not an old traditional Idiom, maybe it might become one 50 years from now), so do something else. Basically it is about trying to hide the truth, but instead ended up actually revealing it. Commented May 5 at 1:52
  • There are other similar Idioms in Chinese to 此地无银三百两, like 欲盖弥彰 (yù gài mí zhāng) - Literally "wanting to cover up but making it even more obvious. Commented May 5 at 1:58
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Tang Ho mentions the Streisand effect, this is accurate and can definitely be used this way. However its a very modern term, and maybe not all english speakers know it, especially older ones or those who don't use the internet as much.

I recommend an extremely famous english quote, pretty much any english speaker ever will know it: "Me thinks thee//she//he doth protest too much."

It is a reference to a line in the shakespeare story hamlet where the queen says "the lady doth protest too much, methinks." after said lady was obviously overemphasizing strong feelings of love in a way that didn't at all seem genuine or realistic. While fake love and hiding money are very different actions, the core act of suspicious words are exactly the same, and they are used in the exact same way to question suspicious denials :)

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  • I posted the accurate version above. I just wanted to add side note that doth may be replaced with does, just people modernizing the language. Nothing else would change and you can still use either form just fine :)
    – zagrycha
    Commented May 5 at 3:33

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