Ivanka Trump Tweets a ‘Chinese Proverb,’ Only It’s Not Actually Chinese

Ivanka Trump lit up social media on Monday after tweeting a piece of wisdom she attributed as an ancient Chinese saying: “Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.”

The widely shared tweet, which came ahead of the scheduled meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, was an apparent shade thrown at her father’s critics.

Netizens, however, pointed out that the quote, which purportedly came from China, did not originate from any known Chinese proverb based on sources found online.  


Website Quote Investigator, which suggested it originated at the turn of the 20th century in the United States, pointed out variations of the quote coming from different sources, such as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, American writer Elbert Hubbard, humor magazine “Puck”, and Saxby’s Magazine, among others.

“QI hypothesizes that the modern expression evolved from a comment about the rapidity of change and innovation at the turn of the century that was printed in multiple newspapers and journals in 1903. One instance appeared on March 7, 1903 in a periodical called ‘The Public’ based in Chicago, Illinois.”

Meanwhile, author John Blaydes attributed the quote directly to George Bernard Shaw via his book “The Educator’s Book of Quotes.” 



On Twitter, many netizens mocked Trump for the allegedly misattributed quote.

According to the New York Times, Ivanka Trump’s tweet also sparked a widespread discussion on Weibo among baffled Chinese netizens who suggested genuine Chinese sayings which might convey a similar meaning to it.

Many pointed towards a classic Chinese idiom: “A true gentleman should keep silent while watching a chess game.” Others, however, think this popular saying in China could be what Ivanka was referring to: “If you can do it, do it; if you can’t, shut up.”


Featured image via Instagram / ivankatrump

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