Idiom: 滥竽充数

làn yú chōng shù

“to be included in a group just to fill a vacancy; to pretend to be an expert”

lanyuchongshu2During the Warring States Period (475-221BC), the King of the State of Qi was very fond of listening to “yu” ensembles. He often got together 300 yu players to form a grand orchestra. The king treated his musicians very well. A man named Nanguo heard about that and he managed to become a member of the band, even though he could not play the instrument at all. Whenever the band played for the king, Nanguo just stood in the line and pretended to play. Nobody realized he wasn’t making any sound at all. As a result, he enjoyed his treatment just as the other musician did.

When the king died, his son, the new ruler, also loved the yu’s music. However, he preferred solos. He ordered all the musicians to play the yu one by one. Therefore, Nanguo had to run out of the palace.

The idiom “làn yú chōng shù” is used to mock someone who passes for a specialist in something. You can also hear people saying it about themselves to show their modesty.

滥竽充数

战国时,齐宣王喜欢听竽,通常是三百人的大合奏。因为他给予乐师非常优厚的待遇,所以一个叫南郭的人尽管并不擅长吹竽,也设法混进乐队。当乐队演奏时,他就站在队伍里假装也在吹。没有人注意到其实他连一点声音也没吹出来,所以南郭也享受到和其他乐师一样的待遇。宣王死后,他的儿子继承了王位。他也喜欢听竽,可是他喜欢听独奏,让乐师一个个吹给他听,于是南郭不得不逃跑了。

滥竽充数这个成语用来嘲笑那些没有真正才干,混在行家里的人。 人们有时也用滥竽充数来表示自谦。