Internet users are saying Ivanka Trump would be wise to double check online quotes after she shared an apparently fake “Chinese proverb”.
The daughter of the US president tweeted on Monday: “‘Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.’ – Chinese Proverb”.
But digital sleuths in the US and China said there is no evidence such a pearl of wisdom originated in China.
The alleged misattribution has provoked the proverbial online backlash.
The tweet was posted hours before her father, President Donald Trump, held historic talks with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
For the record, this is not a Chinese proverb but a piece of ‘mysterious East’ wisdom made up by Westerners (see next tweet). 1/ https://t.co/HqGnwCI4SP
— Michael Li (@mcpli) June 12, 2018
End of Twitter post by @mcpli
On social media site Weibo, some quoted similar sayings that are popular in China, such as: ” Don’t give advice while watching others playing a chess game.”
“If you haven’t tasted the grapes, don’t say they’re sour,” one person responded.
“Did you get that from a fortune cookie?” another netizen asked.
Those who tweet Chinese proverbs, should not forget to research Chinese proverbs cc Ivanka https://t.co/3RDiXpWVOA
— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) June 12, 2018
End of Twitter post by @MiriamElder
“This not even remotely an actual Chinese proverb.” – Chinese Proverb https://t.co/d7UiTYvrfS
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) June 11, 2018
End of Twitter post by @angryasianman
The first daughter and White House adviser’s post was still pinned to the top of her Twitter account on Tuesday.
Ms Trump has frequently touted her connection to China and its culture.
She hired a Chinese-speaking nanny to tutor her daughter.
Those who make up quotes and just claim Chinese people said them should sit down.
— Max Sparber (@maxsparber) June 12, 2018
End of Twitter post by @maxsparber
Three minutes of googling suggests this is a fake Chinese Proverb. It seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th c.—which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism. But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit? https://t.co/bqjbZhXlQr
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 11, 2018
End of Twitter post by @BillKristol
This is not Ms Trump’s first apparent misattribution to Chinese lore.
In 2013 she posted on Twitter: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
She incorrectly identified that saying as one by Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Ms Trump, 36, also wrongly attributed a quote to Albert Einstein in July last year, writing: “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”
Here is an actual Chinese proverb: “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” Storm’s a’ comin’
— Dan Smolnik (@dan_smolnik) June 12, 2018
End of Twitter post by @dan_smolnik
Larry Herzberg, a professor of Chinese at Calvin College, told the New York Times the tweet is “yet one more example of Americans ascribing a quote to the Chinese, often to Confucius, when they don’t really know the origin of the saying”.
“It sounds more legitimate and credible to pronounce a quote coming from the ancient civilisation of China.”
Ms Trump’s “Chinese proverb” has also been attributed to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, according to the website QuoteInvestigator.com.
Taiwanese-American comedian Jenny Yang was clearly enjoying the online fallout.
“Anything sounds more important with quotation marks and a generic Chinese person saying it.” -Chinese Proverb