Sing Flower on a Rainy Night in Mandarin Chinese

The song called 雨夜花 (Yǔ Yè Huā Flower on a Rainy Night) is a very well-known Taiwanese song. The beautiful melody was originally composed for a children’s song. After hearing the sad life story of a young bar girl, the lyricist changed the lyrics and used a tender blossom pounded upon by merciless, relentless rain as a metaphor for a poor girl fallen into the flesh trade through unfortunate circumstances.

The Taiwanese pronunciation for 雨夜花 is “wuyahue”, quite different from the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. There are still a few older Taiwanese folks who only speak the local dialect. However, the majority of the people in Taiwan speak Mandarin Chinese, which is the official language to date.

At this link, you can hear Teresa Teng sing this song in Taiwanese.

I changed the lyrics so you could sing it in English or Mandarin Chinese, if you wish.

Flower on a Rainy Night

Rain on me, rain on me.
So much shame, so much pain to bear.
No one sees me, no one hears me,
No one knows me, no one cares.

Nigh is falling, day is dying,
Now I wilt, now the last hour nears.
No more sighing, no more crying,
No more fears and no more tears.

雨连连, 雨连连.
Yǔ liánlián, yǔ liánlián.
The rain keeps falling.

多少羞愧, 多少悲凄.
Duōshao xiūkuì duōshao bēi qī.
So much shame and regret, so much sorrow.

没人看见, 没人听见,
Méi rén kànjian, méi rén tīngjiàn,
No one sees, no one hears,

没人知晓, 没人理.
Méi rén zhīxiǎo, méi rén lǐ.
No one knows, no one pays attention.

夜已临, 日已尽.
Yè yǐ lín, rì yǐ jìn.
Night has come, day has ended.

花已谢, 花瓣已凋零.
Huā yǐ xiè, huābàn yǐ diāolíng.
Flower is spent, the petals have fallen.

不再怨叹, 不再啜泣,
Bùzài yuàn tàn, bùzài chuòqì,
No more sighing, no more sobbing,

不再畏惧, 得安宁.
Bùzài wèijù, dé ānníng.
No more dreading; peace at last.

So today we will learn a few words associated with decay and sadness.

(yǔ) is rain. 下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain.
(lián) means to connect or to link. 连连 means continuously, as in the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”.

羞愧 (xiūkuì) means to feel ashamed or abashed.
悲凄 (bēi qī) means mournful.
知晓 (zhīxiǎo) means the same as 知道 (zhīdào), i.e. to know or to be aware of.
理睬 (lǐcǎi) means to pay attention to or to show interest in.
Here, (xiè) does not mean “thanks”. It refers to the decline or withering of the flower. 谢世 (xièshì) means to pass away.
花瓣 (huābàn )are flower petals.
凋零 (diāolíng) is to wither and be scattered about.
怨叹 (yuàn tàn) is to complain and to sigh.
啜泣 (chuòqì) is to sob or weep.
畏惧 (wèijù) is to fear or to dread.
安宁 (ānníng) means peaceful or free from worries.

儿童节快乐!
Értóng jié kuàilè!.
Happy International Children’s Day!

P.S. I hope you are all holding out all right with the social distancing. Stay safe.

 

Coronavirus in Chinese

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

今天是国际妇女节.
Jīntiān shì guójì fùnǚ jié
It’s International Women’s Day today.

我向世界上所有妇女致敬!
Wǒ xiàng shìjiè shàng suǒyǒu fùnǚ zhìjìng!
Salute to all the women in the world!

As you know, 女人 (nǚrén) and 女子 (nǚ zǐ) both mean women. 妇女 (fùnǚ) is a formal and more polite way of referring to women.

On this International Women’s Day, I’ve been busy dehydrating cabbages and making rusks. Thanks to the threat of an impending coronavirus pandemic, I’ve let the Internet educate me on how to prepare emergency foods that can be stored long term without spoiling. Stored in a sterilized Mason jar with oxygen absorbers, properly dehydrated vegetables could last for years. Hardtacks will keep for decades, but I’ll settle for the plain rusks. If properly prepared and stored, plain rusks made from store-bought plain white bread can last up to three months; and they are yummy. Of course, I will also follow my own recipe to make some dried minced salmon, or 鲑鱼松 (guīyú sōng). A whole salmon will yield about 1 quart of dried minced salmon, seriously reducing the required freezer storage space.

(guān) is a crown, (zhuàng) means a shape, and 病毒 (bìngdú) is the Chinese word for virus. Not surprisingly, the Chinese translation of the coronavirus is 冠状病毒 (guān zhuàng bìngdú).

COVID-19 症状是发烧, 咳嗽, 和呼吸急促.
COVID-19 zhèngzhuàng shì fāshāo, késòu, hé hūxī jícù.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.

该病毒对国王, 贵族和平民一视同仁.
Gāi bìngdú duì guówáng, guìzú hé píngmín yīshìtóngrén.
The virus treats kings, aristocrats and the commoner equally.

保持距离并用肥皂和水洗手有助于预防疾病.
Bǎochí jùlí bìng yòng féizào hé shuǐ xǐshǒu yǒu zhù yú yùfáng jíbìng.
Maintaining a distance and washing hands with soap and water can help prevent the disease.

许多商店的洗手液都卖完了.
Xǔduō shāngdiàn de dōu mài wán le.
In many stores, the hand sanitizers have been sold out.

最好避免旅行以及參加公共聚会.
Zuì hǎo bìmiǎn lǚxíng hé cānjiā gōnggòng jùhuì.
It would be best to avoid traveling and attending public gatherings.

Many countries are now in the throes of a war against the dreadful virus. This ought to make one stop to think about why we make wars against one another when we already have so many natural disasters and treacherous viruses to deal with. This is the underlying philosophy of the novel “My Fatima” that I published last year. Another novel that I wrote, “The Little Monk”, also advocates religious tolerance. World peace (世界和平 shìjiè hépíng) is possible only if we can respect each other’s beliefs as well as everyone’s rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

From 3/10/20 to 3/12/20, you can download the following eBooks from amazon.com for free.

“My Fatima”

“The Little Monk – English Edition”

“The Little Monk – Chinese Edition”

祝你健康!
Zhù nǐ jiànkāng!
Here’s to your health!

I Love You Truly in Chinese

Valentines

Valentines

While attending college, I once found myself in a classroom with just one other classmate in it. He suddenly asked me, “If you like a girl and don’t know what to say to her, what should you do?” Not knowing where he was coming from, and not knowing better, I offered the logical answer, “Just don’t say anything.” Now that I am older and wiser, albeit still having miles ahead to catch up with Ann Landers, I think I should have advised him to try to strike up a simple conversation about something innocuous. While there are people who are naturally sociable and make friends easily, there are just as many who find it hard to take the first step to break the ice. Thus, regrets for missed opportunities. You could compare this with a job application. If you don’t send out the application letter, the chance of getting that job is nil. If you sent in your application but didn’t land the job, it means this job is not meant for you. Try another one. Having a life companion does not guarantee happiness, but if you wish to share your life with someone, then by all means find someone compatible to love and cherish. As the song “Some Enchanted Evening” goes, “Once you have found her, never let her go.” Otherwise, “all through your life, you may dream all alone.”

The Chinese word for love as a noun is (àiqíng) or  (ài) .  (ài) can also be used as a verb. “我爱你. (Wǒ ài nǐ.)” is likely one of the first Chinese sentences you’ve learned. If you truly love someone, then you could add the word 真心 (zhēnxīn), which means wholehearted or wholeheartedly. To profess your unwavering love to someone far away, you could write:

天長地久, 此情不渝.
Tiānchángdìjiǔ cǐ qíng bù yú.
Like the everlasting heaven and earth, this love will never change.

When talking about length, the Chinese word for “long” is (cháng); when talking about duration in time, the Chinese word for “long” is (jiǔ). However, (cháng) can be used as an adjective to describe the length of a time period.

我等了很久.
Wǒ děng le hěn jiǔ
I waited for quite a while.

我等了一段很長的時間.
Wǒ děng le yī duàn hěn cháng de shíjiān.
I waited for a long period of time.

Following are the lyrics to the sentimental song “I Love You Truly”.

I love you truly, truly, dear.
Life with its sorrow, life with its tears
Fades into dream when I feel you are near,
For I love you truly, truly, dear.

我真心爱你, 此情不渝.
Wǒ zhēnxīn ài nǐ, cǐ qíng bù yú.
I love you truly, this heart will never change.

人生的痛苦和忧虑,
Rénshēng de tòngkǔ hé bēi qī
The pain and cares of life

梦中相会时就都消去.
Mèng zhōng xiānghuì shí jiù dōu xiāoqù.
All disappear when we meet in dreams.

我是真心爱你, 此情不渝.
Wǒ zhēnxīn ài nǐ, cǐ qíng bù yú.
I do love you truly, this heart will never change.

At this link is a video featuring another love song “Down in the Valley” in Chinese. The lyrics are discussed in Chapter 13 of the book “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrénjié kuàilè!
Happy Valentines Day!

Year of the Rat and Chinese idioms associated with rats and mice

Year of the Rat Greeting Card

Year 2020 – Chinese Year of the Rat Greeting Card

Yikes! I’m scared of rats and mice. However, as a Chinese zodiac sign, rats represent wealth and abundance, and the ones pictured on the greeting card here do look kind of cute. If you wish to read up on the rats zodiac information, please click on this link.

Let’s take a closer look at the greeting card design. Notice how the various disks have a square hole in the center? Those represent the ancient Chinese coins. People used to string them together and carry the strings of cash coins around. Also, there are one or more occurrences of the following auspicious phrases on the card image. Are you able to find them all?

迎新年 (yíng xīnnián) Welcome the New year.

迎春纳福 (yíng chūn nàfú) Welocme spring and enjoy a life of ease and comfort.

迎春接福 (yíng chūn jiē fú) Welocme spring and enjoy a life of ease and comfort.

富贵有余 (fùguì yǒuyú) Have ample riches and prestige.

一路发财 (yīlù fācái) Make a fortune throughout the journey of life.

招财进宝 (zhāo cái jìn bǎo) May riches and treasures pour in.

财源滚滚 (cái yuán gǔn gǔn) May the source of wealth keep surging.

大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì) Very good fortune and great profit to you.

吉祥平安 (jíxiáng píng’ān) Auspiciousness and wellness be with you.

事事如意 (shìshìrúyì) Smooth going for everything.

In the above, (yíng) is an abbreviation for 欢迎 (huānyíng), which means to welcome or to greet.

Following are a few other popular New Year greetings:

恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái) Wish you happiness and prosperity.

心想事成 (xīn xiǎng shì chéng) May all your wishes come true.

万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì) May everything go as you wish.

年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) May you have abundance and surplus each year.

年年高升 (nián nián gāo shēng) May you get a promotion year after year.

岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān) May you enjoy peace year after year.

(yú surplus) is a homonym for (yú fish). This is why many Chinese families include a dish of fish for the last dinner of the year but make sure to save part of the fish for consumption in the new year.

(gāo high, tall) is a homonym for (gāo cakes). 年糕 (niángāo), a very sweet cake, is usually served around Chinese New year because it connotes 年年高升. Instead of that sugary cake, I serve my family the wholesome Daikon radish cake, or 萝卜糕 (luóbogāo), the recipe of which can be found in “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way“.

The Chinese word for rats or mice is (shǔ) or 老鼠 (lǎoshǔ). In some dialects, rats and mice are called 耗子 (hàozi). The Chinese word for rats or mice is (shǔ) or 老鼠 (lǎoshǔ). In some dialects, rats and mice are called 耗子 (hàozi). 田鼠 (tiánshǔ) is a vole, 松鼠 (sōngshǔ) is a squirrel, 花鼠 (huāshǔ) is a chipmunk, and 飛鼠 (fēishǔ) is a flying squirrel. Get this: Kangaroos are called 袋鼠 (dàishǔ).

Here are a few popular Chinese idioms related to rats or mice.

抱头鼠窜 (bàotóushǔcuàn) to scurry off like a rat
胆小如鼠 (dǎnxiǎo rú shǔ) timid or faint-hearted like a mouse
过街老鼠 (guò jiē lǎoshǔ) a mouse crossing the street, despised by everyone who sees it
投鼠忌器 (tóushǔjìqì) to hesitate to throw something at a rat for fear of breaking some precious item, i.e. to have scruples about doing something
狗咬耗子 (gǒu yǎo hàozi) dog biting a rat, i.e. to be a busybody
猫哭老鼠 (māokūlǎoshǔ) a cat crying over a dead mouse; to shed crocodile tears
蛇头鼠眼 (shé tóu shǔ yǎn) with a snakes head and rat’s eyes, i.e. hideous and harboring evil intentions

For fun, we could add a couple expressions that make use of the characters (shǔ to count) and (shǔ to belong to), which sound the same as (shǔ).

好运鼠于你 (好运属于你 hǎoyùn shǔyú nǐ) Good luck be yours!

鼠不尽的快乐 (数不尽的快乐 shǔ bù jìn de kuàilè) Countless happiness!

恭贺新禧!
Gōnghèxīnxǐ!
Happy New Year!

The Gift of the Magi Story in Chinese

Christmas Present

Christmas Present 圣誕禮物

What gifts will you be placing under the Christmas tree for your loved ones this coming holiday? It is no small feat choosing an appropriate gift for everyone on your list. Do you think you will get exactly what you have been wishing for? Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or, will you say, “Oh, no!” like Jim and Della in the short story “The Gift of the Magi” written by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)? Following is my version of the story retold in Chinese.

吉姆和德拉是一对贫穷的年轻夫妻.
Jímǔ hé Déla shì yīduì pínqióng de niánqīng fūqī.
Jim and Della were a young married couple who were struggling financially.

吉姆有只祖传的缺了表链的怀表.
Jímǔ yǒu yī zhī zǔchuan de quē le biǎo liàn de huáibiǎo.
Jim owned an heirloom pocket watch that lacked a watch chain.

那是他最珍爱的物品.
Nà shì tā zuì zhēn’ài de wùpǐn.
It was his most treasured possession.

德拉最引以为傲的则是她美丽的长头发.
Déla zuì yǐn yǐ wéi ào de zé shì tā měilì de cháng tóufa.
As for Della, her pride and joy was her beautiful long hair.

圣诞节就要到了.
Shèngdànjié jiùyào dàole.
Christmas was approaching.

两人没有钱为心愛的人买圣诞礼物,
Liǎng rén méiyǒu qián wèi xīn’ài de rén mǎi shèngdàn lǐwù,
Not having money to buy Christmas presents for their beloved,

心中非常着急.
xīnzhōng fēicháng zháojí.
the two felt frustrated.

圣诞夜吉姆下班回家时, 吃了一惊.
Shèngdànyè Jímǔ xiàbān huíjiā shí, chī le yī jīng.
On Christmas Eve Jim was shocked when he came home from work.

“德拉, 你的头发怎么剪掉了?”
“Déla, nǐ de tóufa zěnme jiǎn diào le?”
“Della, how come you’ve cut off your hair?”

德拉取出一条白金表链給吉姆看.
Déla qǔchū yī tiáo báijīn biǎo liàn gěi Jímǔ kàn.
Della showed Jim a watch chain made of platinum.

她说: “我卖了头发, 买了這個送给你.”
Tā shuō: “Wǒ mài le tóufa, mǎi le zhègè sòng gěi nǐ.”
She said, “I sold my hair and bought this for you.”

吉姆缓缓地拿出他要送给德拉的礼物.
Jímǔ huǎnhuǎn de ná chū tā yào sòng gěi Déla de lǐwù.
JIm slowly produced the present he was giving to Della.

原来, 他把怀表当了,
Yuánlái, tā bǎ huáibiǎo dàng le,
It turned out that he had pawned his pocket watch

为德拉买了一套精美的发饰.
wèi Déla mǎi le yī tào jīngměi de fà shì.
and bought a set of elegant decorative combs for Della.

两人含情脈脈, 投入了對方的懷抱.
Liǎng rén hánqíngmòmò, tóurù le duìfāng de huáibào.
With tenderness in their eyes, the two threw themselves into each other’s embrace.

圣诞快乐!
Shèngdàn kuàilè!
Merry Christmas!

** The links for a few of my books are listed below:

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on amazon.com

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on books.apple.com

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on kobo.com

English Edition of The Little Monk

Traditional Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on amazon.com

Simplified Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on kobo.com

Simplified Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on books.apple

My Fatima

Tame Migraine the Delicious Way

If you enjoyed reading the ebook, please post a book review at amazon.com for it. Thanks much!

Speaking of book reviews, if you would like to read some of the book reviews I’ve written, please click on this link: “Book Reviews I’ve Written“.

Happy 2020!

 

Read a novel in Chinese and English

Chinese edition of The Little Monk

The Little Monk in Chinese

The Little Monk

The Little Monk in English

Earlier this year I mentioned that I planned to publish a middle-grade novel in both English and Chinese. I am pleased to announce that the English and Chinese editions of “The Little Monk are now available as Kindle eBooks at amazon.com.

It’s been quite a few years since I started this blog site, and I hope that some of you have advanced to the intermediate level in your study of the Chinese language. Are you ready to take on the challenge of reading a complete novel in Chinese? To date there is still a shortage of bilingual English-Chinese reading material for intermediate level language students.

The fact is that reading the same material side by side in Chinese and English can greatly benefit both the Chinese and English language learners.

If you don’t have a Kindle reading device, you can still read Kindle eBooks─on your PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android-based phone or tablet. Please see the information provided at this link.

To give you an idea of what the story is about, here is a brief description.

十七世纪中, 台湾被称作福摩萨,  
Shíqīshìjì zhōng, Táiwān bèi chēng zuò Fú Mó Sà,
In the 17th century, Taiwan was called the Island of Formosa,

意为美丽的小岛.
yì wéi měilì de xiǎodǎo.
meaning “Beautiful Island”.

岛上有宜人的气候, 令人瞩目的风景, 
Dǎo shàng yǒu yírén de qìhòu, lìngrén zhǔmù de fēngjǐng,
The island featured pleasant climate, eye-catching scenery,

以及丰富的自然资源.
yǐjí fēngfù de zìran zīyuán.
and rich natural resources.

各国强权纷纷来到, 建立了殖民地.
Gèguó qiángquán fēnfēn láidào, jiànlì le zhímíndì.
Foreign powers flocked to the place to colonize it.

这个故事发生在一个被西班牙统治的地区.
Zhègè gùshi fāshēng zài yīgè bèi Xībānyá tǒngzhì de dìqū.
This story took place during the brief Spanish rule of part of the island.

娃娃出生之后不久就与他的父母分离
Wáwa chūshēng zhīhòu bùjiǔ jiù yǔ tā de fùmǔ fēnlí
Shortly after Wawa was born, he was separated from his parents

而被一位中国少林和尚收容了.
ér bèi yī wèi shào lín héshàng shōuróng le.
and taken in by a Chinese Shaolin monk.

他十二岁时已经熟读佛经, 并且练了一身好功夫.
Tā shí’èr suì shí yǐjīng shú dú Fójīng, bìngqiě liàn le yīshēn hǎo gōngfu.
At the age of 12, he was already trained in Buddhism and kung fu skills.

娃娃想要从另外一位师父那儿学习石猴功.
Wáwa xiǎng yào cóng lìngwài yī wèi shīfu nàr xuéxí shí hóu gōng.
Wawa wanted to learn the unique Rock Monkey Kung Fu from another master.

在前往那位师父的途中, 他遇到了他的父亲尤大, 
Zài qiánwǎng nèi wèi shīfu de túzhōng, tā bùyì yùdào le tā de fùqin Yóudà.
On the trip to seek the other master, Wawa encountered his father Yotas,

但是两人都不知道他们之间的父子关系.
Dànshì liǎng rén dōu bù zhīdào tāmen zhījiān de fù zǐ guānxi.
but neither one was aware of their kinship.

娃娃也遇到他的对手明善. 
Wáwa yě yùdào tā de duìshǒu Míngshàn.
Wawa also encountered his adversary, Mingshan.

明善正要帮助西班牙军队逮捕尤大.
Míngshàn zhèng yào bāngzhù Xībānyá jūnduì dàibǔ Yóudà.
Minshan was helping the conquistadors to capture Yotas.

The twists in the plot of this story will keep you wondering what eventually happened to each of the main characters. At the same time, you will have a glimpse of the local scenery and the multi-cultural history of the place. You will be entertained by the amazing kung fu fighting actions, and hopefully also give some thought to racial prejudice and religious tolerance.

To watch a video showing scenes similar to those used as the background of this story, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhzZ3n8Q0Q

To watch a video about the aborigine tribes in Taiwan, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cRl8FuK-YQ

Learn Chinese word radical – Hair

Shapes

Various Shapes

The simple, pictorial Chinese radical represents hair or tassels. It is pronounced shān or xiān, but you don’t have to worry about the pronunciation, as you are not likely to encounter this symbol as a stand-alone character in ordinary books and documents.

The radical is found in numerous Chinese characters, many of which are out of circulation. Therefore, we will only discuss those that are commonly used in everyday speech.

In Traditional Chinese, the character for hair is (fǎ), which features the hair radical. Unfortunately, this character was replaced by in Simplified Chinese, and one no longer sees the strokes representing the tassels. So, the hair on your hair is 头发 (tóufa). The hair on your body and head is referred to as 毛发 (máofà). 发型 (fàxíng) means hair style or coiffure, 短发 (duǎnfǎ) is a short haircut, and 假发 (jiǎfà fake hair) is a wig.

理发 (lǐfà) is to have or get a hair cut, while 刮胡子 (guā húzi) means to shave one’s beard. The Traditional Chinese word for beards, moustache or whiskers is 鬍鬚 (húxū) or 鬍子 (húzi). Here again, you can see that the radical is absent from the Simplified Chinese word for beards. A moustache that has its ends grown much longer and often flared out is called a 八字胡 (bāzìhú) because it reminds one of the Chinese word for “eight”.

Not all men sport a beard. Rather, they shave their face. The action of shaving one’s face is called 修面 (xiū miàn). Please note that here (miàn) refers to the face rather than noodles. This is one of the ambiguities created by Simplified Chinese, which sometimes oversimplifies.

(xiū) as a verb is to repair, mend, embellish, trim or prune. The word commonly used for repairing is 修理 (xiūlǐ).

必须 (bìxū), or 须要 (xūyào), means to have to, or must. For example,

我的车子须要修理.
Wǒde chēzi xūyào xiūlǐ.
My car needs to be repaired.

Note that 需要 (xūyào) is a homonym of 须要 (xūyào); it means to need or to want.

孩子们需要父母的爱护.
Háizǐ men xūyào fùmǔ de àihù.
Children need the parents’ love and caring.

As the needle leaves of the fir tree resemble strands of hair, fir trees are called 杉树 (shān shù). 文质彬彬 (wénzhìbīnbīn) is a phrase often used to describe a cultivated, gentle person, who is likened to a graceful fir tree.

We encountered the (shān garment) character when we talked about the “clothes” radical on 2/15/12. Do you still remember that a shirt is called 衬衫 (chènshān)?

The character (cǎi) can take on a number of different meanings. For example, 色彩 (sècǎi) means color; 彩色的 (cǎisè de), or 五彩 (wǔcǎi), means multicolored; 彩霞 (cǎixiá) are rosy clouds; 彩虹 (cǎihóng) is a rainbow; 水彩 (shuīcǎi) is watercolour; 精彩 (jīngcǎi) means splendid; 喝彩 (hècǎi) means applause or cheer; 挂彩 (guàcǎi) means to decorate for festive occasions, or to be wounded in action.

As an adjective (zhēn) means rare, precious or valuable. As a noun, it means a treasure. 珍珠 (zhēnzhū) are pearls. The American writer and novelist Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese name is 赛珍珠 (Sài zhēnzhū).

疹子 (zhěnzi) is a rash. 麻疹 (mázhěn) are measles.

诊断 (zhěn duàn) is to examine a patient and make a diagnosis.

(xíng) is a form, a shape, an entity or a situation.

形状 (xíngzhuàng) is the shape or appearance of an item. 方形 (fāngxíng) is a square; 圆形 (yuánxíng) is a round shape; 半月形 (bànyuèxíng) is a crescent. 变形 (biànxíng) means to become deformed.

隐形 (yǐnxíng) means invisible. Therefore, 隐形眼镜 (yǐnxíngyǎnjìng) are contact lenses (i.e. invisible eyeglasses).

形容 (xíngróng) means to describe. Therefore, 形容词 (xíngróngcí) are adjectives. This is a good time to review how to use the many adjectives listed in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

情形 (qíngxíng) circumstances; situation; condition; state of affairs.

参加 (cānjiā) means to join, take part in or attend. 参考 (cānkǎo) means to refer to or to consult. So, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books.

, when pronounced as (shēn), refers to ginseng. Asian ginseng is called 人参 (rénshēn) because its root resembles the (rén) character. 西洋参 (xīyángshēn) refers to American ginseng, which differs from the Asian ginseng with respect to herbal properties.

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