I always thought, coincidentally, the Chinese had a saying that was the exact translation of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” But this week my dad pointed out that it’s actually “strive for the best, prepare for the worst.”
“Because we don’t hope,” he said. “We have to be more active than that.” Cue tiny violins.
Whatever language you use, the saying seems to be used most when people are actually quite dreading, and anticipating, the worst. If everything’s working out, no one thinks about preparing for the worst. They’re thinking about pina coladas and new clothes. Just something that I notice as I prepare myself…
It’s also interesting that, like in English, the word for “swallow” in Chinese is also homophone for both the bird and bodily function. So you can say “I swallowed the swallows nest” in both languages, and you’d be using the same word twice. The only difference is the reaction you’ll get in each country.