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An Overview to Chinese Idiom 唱反调 (Chàng fǎn diào) The Devil’s Advocate

Learning idioms is imperative when mastering a language. After all, idiom possesses local contexts that contain inside meanings only locals understand. That is pertinent for learning idioms will break the cultural barrier between people. It will enable the learner to access local thematics, boosting language eloquence.

Today is yet another day to examine a well-known Chinese idiom: 唱反调 (Chàng fǎn diào). It translates into “sing a different tune.” We use this idiom when someone disagrees with an accepted perspective. Its usage can also apply to situations where someone explains an opposing view to a premise.

 唱反调 (Chàng fǎn diào) is very much relevant these days. We are at the peak of the information age. Almost everyone, even people secluded from society, has access to undisputable objective facts. That does not leave much for discussion. After all, resolving if something is factual or not is achievable through a simple internet search or even rummaging through library records. That opens another door to another kind of discussion; the abstracts, hypotheticals, and perspectives. It allows people to have subjective opinions. That sparks a hearty debate between the two parties. When a party dominates a discussion, the one who will air another view is the 唱反调 (chàng fǎn diào) or the devil’s advocate.

To further delve into the idiom, it is critical that we must first examine the tones it contains.

唱反 (chàng fǎn diào)”, Devils advocate

 (chàng)”, fourth tone, means sing.

 (fǎn)”, third tone, means reverse, opposite, contrary, anti.

(diào)”, fourth tone, means tune.

With the knowledge point explained. Let us look into its usage with the contexts.

You can apply this where there’s a clear line of disagreement between two parties. After all, the idiom translates to ‘disagreeing’ with an individual.

Wǒ hěn pèi fú tā yǒu yǒng qì hé lǐ lì chàng fǎn diào   


I admired him for having the courage to disagree with her.

Another application of this idiom is when someone tries to go against something accepted. It can be an objective view, a law, or a local rules set. As long as someone tries to disagree or reject a widely accepted perspective, they are a 唱反调(chàng fǎn diào).

Bú yào hé měi tiáo xīn guī zé chàng fǎn diào


Don’t try to buck every new rule.

The last situation in which this is applicable is when someone tries to disagree with you. Remember, the central premise of the idiom revolves around ‘disagreement.’  

Wǒ bù xǐ huān bié rén chàng fǎn diào, suǒ yǐ bú yào hé wǒ zhēng lùn


I hate being crossed, so don’t argue with me.

The idiom’s application is not limited to the three examples above. It is also applicable in a wide variety of situations. As only as there’s a discussion, a devil’s advocate will always appear, especially in circumstances where a person contests a predominant narrative. The next time you see someone disagreeing with a widely accepted belief, they surely are a 唱反调(chàng fǎn diào).

Disagreement is inherent in life. After all, it is impossible to please everybody. However, let us not disagree just because someone has an opinion opposite ours. In cases where opposing is inevitable, let us aim to make it constructive. Let us remember that when disagreeing with somebody or playing our role as a 唱反调(chàng fǎn diào ), let us make it healthy. We must strive to build fruitful discussions. Converse with sound arguments backed by objective facts. Never give in to your emotional feelings. Know when you are wrong. Acknowledge the merits of another person’s opinions. Every role in a discussion is critical, especially the devil’s advocate or 唱反调(chàng fǎn diào).

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