Learn Chinese word radical – Feather

Eagle

Eagle Painting

The word 羽 (yǔ) consists of a pair of feathers showing the shafts and a couple of the barbs on the vanes. In everyday speech, feathers are called 羽毛 (yǔ máo).

Badminton is called 羽毛球 (yǔmáoqiú) because traditionally the shuttlecocks were made with real goose feathers. Badminton bats are called 羽毛球拍 (yǔmáoqiú pāi).

你打羽毛球吗?
Nǐ dǎ yǔmáoqiú ma?
Do you play badminton?

To keep themselves healthy, birds will preen their feathers several times a day. To keep one’s reputation intact, a person would mind his conduct and dealings. This is referred to as 爱惜羽毛 (àixī yǔmáo).

他太爱惜羽毛, 因此做事过于谨慎.
Tā tài àixī yǔmáo, yīncǐ zuòshì guòyú jǐnshèn.
He cares too much about his reputation, so that he is too cautious in doing things.

Whereas the 羽 (yǔ) radical is shown completely in the Traditional Chinese word 習 (xí), the Simplified Chinese version of the word is reduced to just one feather, 习 (xí).

习 (xí) originally describes how birds fly back and forth repeatedly. The meaning has been extended to refer to repeating certain actions, as in practicing something or having a habit.

学习 (xuéxí) means to learn, and 见习 jiànxí means to train on the job. To study on your own is 自习 (zìxí), and 练习(liànxí) is to practice.

不管你学什么, 多多练习是很重要的.
Bùguǎn nǐ xué shénme, duōduō liànxí shì hěn zhòngyào de.
Regardless of what you study, it is important to practice a lot.

As a noun, 习惯 (xíguàn) is a habit. As a verb, it means to be accustomed to something. 坏习惯 (huài xíguàn) is a bad habit, and 恶习 (èxí) is a vice.

这里经常下雨, 我们已经习惯了.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen yǐjīng xíguàn le.
It rains often here, and we are accustomed to it.

Here is another way to put it, using a four-character Chinese idiom:

这里经常下雨, 我们早就习以为常.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen zǎo jiù xíyǐwéicháng.
It rains often here, and we’ve been accustomed to it since long ago.

The formal word for wings is 翼 (yì). In every day speech we call wings 翅膀 (chìbǎng). The 羽 (yǔ) radical features prominently in both words.

小心翼翼 (xiǎoxīnyìyì) means with great care, or cautiously.

不翼而飞 (bù yì ér fēi) is a commonly used Chinese idiom that means to disappear all of a sudden (taking off without wings).

如虎添翼 (rúhǔtiānyì) refers to redoubled power, like a tiger that has grown wings.

有了一百辆坦克车加入他强大的阵容, 这将是如虎添翼.
Yǒule yībǎi liàng tǎnkè chē jiārù tā qiángdà de zhènróng, zhè jiāng shì rúhǔtiānyì.
With a hundred tanks joining his powerful battle array, this will be like a tiger with wings.

Following are a few more commonly used words that include the 羽 (yǔ) radical.

翔 (xiáng) is to circle in the air. This word is made up of the character for goats and a pair of feathers. 飞翔 (fēixiáng) is to fly and 滑翔 (huáxiáng) is to glide in the air. The glider aircraft is called a 滑翔机 (huáxiángjī).

好久没看到滑翔机了。
Hǎojiǔ méi kàn dào huáxiángjīle.
I haven’t seen a glider for a long time.

扇子 (shànzi) are handheld fans, while 电风扇 (diàn fēngshàn) or 电扇 (diànshàn) are electric fans. Fans made with real feathers are called 羽毛扇 (yǔmáo shàn).

煽动 (shāndòng) is to incite. Notice how the word 煽 (shān) also takes on the fire radical.

翁 (wēng) and 老翁 (lǎowēng) refer to men or old men. A millionair is called a 百万富翁 (bǎi wàn fùwēng).

When speaking of someone with an ulterior motive, you could say,

醉翁之意不在酒.
Zuì wēng zhī yì bùzài jiǔ.
The old tippler’s heart is not in the cup.

蹋 (tà) is to stamp one’s foot or to step on something. 糟蹋 (zāotà) is to spoil, waste, wreck something, or to abuse someone.

把碗里的食物吃完, 不要糟蹋东西.
Bǎ wǎn lǐ de shíwù chī wán; bùyào zāotà dōngxi.
Finish eating the food in the bowl; don’t waste things.

With the “soil” radical on the left side, 塌 (tà) means to collapse. Therefore, 倒塌 (dǎotā) means to collapse or to topple down. 一塌糊涂 (yītāhútú) means a whole mess, and 死心塌地 (sǐxīntādì) means to have one’s heart set on or to be hell-bent on doing something.

分开了50年, 她依然死心塌地的爱着他.
Fēnkāi le wǔshí nián, tā yīrán sǐxīntādì de àizhe tā.
After 50 years of separation, she still loves him with all her heart.

摺 (zhé) is to fold. 摺紙 (zhézhǐ) means folding paper, or origami.

寥 (liáo) means few. 寥寥无几 (liáoliáo wújǐ) is an idiom that means very few.

翡翠 (fěicuì) is jade. 翠绿 (cuìlǜ) is emerald green.

翻 (fān) means to turn over. 翻滚 (fāngǔn) is to tumble. 翻车 (fānchē) refers to the rollover of a vehicle.
天翻地覆 (tiānfāndìfù) is an idiom describing total confusion and chaos, or being topsy-turvy.

翻脸 (fānliǎn) or 闹翻 (nào fān) means to have a fall out with someone and no longer be friendly with that person.

他们为了争夺女友而闹翻了.
Tāmen wèile zhēngduó nǚyǒu ér nào fān le.
They fell out fighting over the same girlfriend.

翻译 (fānyì) means to translate from one language to another.

推翻 (tuīfān) means to overthrow or to overturn.

翻山越岭 (fān shānyuè lǐng) is a Chinese idiom describing an arduous journey climbing over many mountains.

廖 (liào) is a Chinese surname. This word is the answer to an interesting riddle you can find in Chapter 24 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

中秋節快樂!
Happy Moon Festival!

Musings in Chinese on gardening

Snow Pea Flower
Pink Snow Pea Flower

Well, I don’t exactly have zucchinis coming out of my ears, but this year I took care to spray the plants with a 1:10 hydrogen peroxide solution at the first appearance of powdery mildew, and we have enough zucchinis to enjoy and share with our 100-year-old neighbor.

我喜欢园艺, 尤其是种蔬菜.
Wǒ xǐhuān yuányì, yóuqí shì zhòng shūcài.
I enjoy gardening, especially growing vegetables.

看着幼小的植物逐渐长大, 心中无比高兴。
Kànzhe yòuxiǎo de zhíwù zhújiàn zhǎng dà, xīnzhōng wúbǐ gāoxìng.
It gives me immense pleasure to watch the young plants grow up gradually.

能为家人提供新鲜的蔬菜, 令我引以为豪.
Néng wéi jiārén tígōng xīnxiān de shūcài, lìng wǒ yǐn yǐ wéi háo.
It makes me proud to be able to provide my family with fresh vegetables.

此外, 园艺还给了我许多人生道理的启示.
Cǐwài, yuányì hái gěi le wǒ xǔduō rénshēng dàolǐ de qǐshì.
Besides, gardening has also given me many revelations about life.

俗话说: “春耕,夏耘,秋收,冬藏.”
Súhuà shuō: “Chūn gēng, xià yún, qiū shōu, dōng cáng.”
As the adage goes, “Plough in spring, weed in summer, harvest in autumn, store in winter.”

种适合在您的地区生长植物, 而不是您梦想可以种植的植物.
Zhòng shìhé zài nín de dìqū shēngzhǎng de zhíwù, ér bùshì nín mèngxiǎng kěyǐ zhòngzhí de zhíwù.
Plant what will grow in your region, not what you dream would grow.

我们做事不也要看天时, 地利, 人和吗?
Wǒmen zuòshì bù yě yào kàn tiānshí, dìlì, rén hé ma?
When we do a project, don’t we also need to consider the right timing, the right place, and the right team?

一颗小种子可以长成一棵大树。
Yī kē xiǎo zhǒngzǐ kěyǐ zhǎng chéngyī kē dà shù.
A tiny seed could grow into a large tree.

我认为每个人也都有很大的潜力。
Wǒ rènwéi měi gèrén yě dōu yǒu hěn dà de qiánlì.
I think there is also great potential in each person.

植物需要肥料, 就像人体需要营养一样。
Zhíwù xūyào féiliào, jiù xiàng réntǐ xūyào yíngyǎng yīyàng.
Plants need fertilizers just like a human body needs nourishment.

人们也需要教育和修养来滋养他们的心灵。
Rénmen yě xūyào jiàoyù hé xiūyǎng lái zīyǎng tāmen de xīnlíng.
People also need education and cultivation to nourish their minds.

种瓜得瓜, 种豆得豆.
Zhòngguādéguā, zhòngdòudédòu.
You get what you sow.

但是,我们必须付出努力并且要有耐心。
Dànshì, wǒmen bìxū fùchū nǔlì bìng qiě yào yǒu nàixīn.
However, we must put in the effort and have patience.

当然, 我们不应该试图揠苗助长.
Of course, we should not try to help the shoots grow by pulling them upward (i.e. spoil things by excessive enthusiasm).

坏习惯就像杂草;它们阻碍我们的发展。
Huài xíguàn jiù xiàng zá cǎo; tāmen zǔ’ài wǒmen de fǎzhǎn.
Bad habits are like weeds; they hinder our development.

就像去芜存菁, 我们可以保留我们的优良人品并消除缺点.
Jiù xiàng qù wú cún jīng, wǒmen kěyǐ bǎoliú wǒmen de yōuliáng rénpǐn bìng xiāochú quēdiǎn.
Like culling the plants, we could keep our good qualities and elminate the shortcomings.

行行出状元; 我们应该虚心向有经验的人学习.
Háng háng chū zhuàngyuán; wǒmen yīnggāi xūxīn xiàng yǒu jīngyàn de rén xuéxí.
There are masters in every profession; we should learn humbly from experienced people.

如果您失败了, 不要气馁. 明年再试试.
Rúguǒ nín shībàile, bùyào qìněi. Míngnián zài shì shì.
If you fail, don’t lose heart. Try again next year.

找出问题所在, 对症下药.
Zhǎo chū wèntí suǒzài, duìzhèngxiàyào.
Find out where the problem is and apply the proper remedy.

一粒米, 一滴汗.
Yī lì mǐ, yīdī hàn
A grain of rice, a drop of sweat.

在感激有菜蔬享用之际, 我们应该尽力保护地球和环境.
Zài gǎnjī yǒu càishū xiǎngyòng zhī jì, wǒmen yīnggāi jìnlì bǎohù dìqiú hé huánjìng.
While we appreciate having fresh produce to enjoy, we should do our best to protect the earth and the environment.

Sing Oh, Shenandoah in Chinese

Today we will sing a traditional American folk song in Chinese. Below, on the right side, you will find one version of the lyrics to this song. On the left side is my translation notated with pinyin.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多想念你. I long to hear you.
Wǒ duō xiǎngniàn nǐ.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多想见你. I long to see you.
Wǒ duō xiǎngjiàn nǐ.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多么爱她. I love your daughter.
Wǒ duōme ài tā.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
我会带她 I’ll take her ‘cross
Wǒ huì dài tā
平安地回家. Your rollin’ water.
Píng’ān dì huí jiā.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

这七年多, ‘Tis seven years,
Zhè qī nián duō,
我四处漂泊. I’ve been a rover,
Wǒ sìchù piāobó.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
等我回来, When I return,
Děng wǒ huílái,
当履行承诺. I’ll be your lover.
Dāng lǚ xíng chéngnuò.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我必须离去. I’m bound to leave you.
Wǒ bìxū lí qù.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我不会负义. I’ll not deceive you.
Wǒ bù huì fù yì.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

河 ( hé ) is a river. A small stream or brook would be called 溪 (xī). 涛涛 (tāo tāo) describes the rolling waves.
想念 (xiǎngniàn) means to miss someone. 遥远 (yáoyuǎn) means faraway. Therefore, 遥念 (yáo niàn) means to miss someone from afar.
再会 (zàihuì) and 再见(zàijiàn) are interchangeable. Both mean “See you again.”.
来日 (lái rì) means someday in the future. The Chinese idiom 来日方长 (Láirìfāngcháng) means there will be another day for that.
平安地 (píng’ān di) means safely.
回家 (huí jiā) means to go home or come hom.
四处漂泊 (sìchù piāobó) is to wonder around.
履行承诺 (lǚ xíng chéngnuò) is to fulfill one’s promise.

The Chinese idiom 忘恩负义 (wàng’ēnfùyì) is used for accusing someone of being ungrateful and turning one’s back in return.

七月四日快乐!
Qīyuè sìrì kuàilè!
Happy July 4th!

Qualities of a Great Father in Chinese

爸爸 (bàba) or 爹 (diē) is to 父亲 (fùqin) as papa or dad is to father. 父 (fù) is one of the radicals of Chinese characters, but there aren’t many characters in this group.

It used to be that being a good father meant being a good provider for the family. Nowadays that has become the minimum requirement. A great deal more is expected of a father in modern days. Let’s see how we can phrase it in Chinese. Please pay special attention to the four-character idioms that I’ve highlighted below.

他努力工作以确保一家的温饱.
Tā nǔlì gōngzuò yǐ quèbǎo yījiā de wēnbǎo.
He works hard to ensure the food and clothing of the family.

他爱他的妻子和孩子们.
Tā ài tā de qīzi hé háizi men.
He loves his wife and children.

他不重男轻女.
Tā bù chóng nán qīng nǚ.
He does not favor his sons over his daughters.

他的思想开明,有同理心.
Tā de sīxiǎng kāimíng, yǒu tóng lǐ xīn.
He is open-minded and shows empathy.

他是孩子们的良師益友.
Tā shì háizimen de liángshīyìyǒu.
He is a good teacher and a helpful friend to his children.

他乐意花时间教导儿女, 同他们游戏与沟通.
Tā lèyì huā shíjiān jiàodǎo érnǚ, tóng tāmen yóuxì yǔ gōutōng.
He is willing to spend time teaching his children, playing and communicating with them.

以身作则, 并且耐心矫正儿女的过错.
Tā yǐshēnzuòzé, bìngqiě nàixīn jiǎozhèng er nǚ de guòcuò.
He leads by example, and patiently corrects the faults of his children.

他注重健康, 奉公守法, 热心助人.
Tā zhùzhòng jiànkāng, fènggōngshǒufǎ, rèxīn zhùrén.
He pays attention to health, obeys the law, and is enthusiastic about helping others.

他诚恳, 正直, 值得信赖.
Tā chéngkěn, zhengzhi, zhide xinlai.
HHe is sincere, upright and trustworthy.

他尊重儿女对于宗教, 职业以及配偶的选择.
Tā zūnzhòng érnǚ duìyú zōngjiào,zhíyè yǐjí pèi’ǒu de xuǎnzé.
He respects his children’s choice of religion, career and spouse.

Thinking back, I feel truly grateful to have been blessed with a wonderful father. How I miss him!

祝父亲节快乐!
Zhù fùqīn jié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Father’s Day!

As it happens to be Dragon Boat Festival 端午节 (duānwǔjié) today, you might be interested in watching how the special glutinous rice dumpling is prepared in this video. You can read the associated blog post here.

Great Mothers in Chinese History

Flowering Tree in Spring

In the proverb “Behind every great man there is a great woman.”, the woman referred to is the wife of the great man. Throughout the human history, we can find countless instances to support the fact that behind every great person there is a great mother.

In particular, a number of outstanding mothers in Chinese history have been placed on a pedestal for all to admire. These women did not spoil their children, but rather taught them discipline and planted in their minds sound moral principles. We will talk about one of them today. You should be able to follow this story without much difficulty, as the English translation closely parallels the Chinese text.

在中國, 孟子通常被稱為亞聖.
Zài zhōngguó, Mèngzǐ tōngcháng bèi chēng wèi Yàshèng.
In China, Mencius is often referred to as the Second Sage.
(Confucius is regarded as the Great Sage.)

他相信人性根本上是善良的.
Tā xiāngxìn rénxìng gēnběn shàng shì shànliáng de.
He believed that human nature is fundamentally good.

孟子的母親把住所搬到一所學校的附近,
Mèngzǐ de mǔqīn bǎ zhùsuǒ bān dào yī suǒ xuéxiào de fùjìn,
Mensius’ mother moved their residence to be near a school,

希望使他對學習感興趣.
xīwàng shǐ tā duì xuéxí gǎn xìngqù.
in the hope of getting him interested in studying.

俗話說: “近朱者赤,近墨者黑.”
Súhuà shuō: “Jìnzhūzhěchì, jìnmòzhěhēi.”
As the saying goes, “One takes on the character of one’s company or environment.”
(Those involved with red dye get stained red; those involved with ink get stained black.)

有一天,孟子从他的房间出来时,
Yǒu yītiān, Mèngzǐ cóng tā de fángjiān chūlái shí,
One day, when Mencius came out of his room,

他的母亲正在织一块布.
Tā de mǔqīn zhèngzài zhī yīkuài bù.
his mother was weaving a piece of cloth.

母亲问他: “你的功课做好了吗?”
Mǔqīn wèn tā: “Nǐ de gōngkè zuò hǎole ma?”
She asked him, “Have you finished your homework?”

孟子回答:”还没有,但是我想去外面玩耍.”
Mèngzǐ huídá: “Hái méiyǒu, dànshì wǒ xiǎng qù wàimiàn wánshuǎ.”
Mencius replied, “Not yet, but I want to go play outside.”

母亲听了, 拿起一把大剪刀,
Mǔqīn tīngle, ná qǐ yī bǎ dà jiǎndāo,
Upon hearing this, the mother grabbed a large pair of scissors,

剪断了织布机上正在织的布.
jiǎn duàn le zhī bù jī shàng zhèngzài zhī de bù.
and cut the fabric she was weaving on the loom.

孟子大吃一惊.
Mèngzǐ dàchīyījīng.
Mencius was taken aback.

他问母亲为什么要破坏费力织成的布.
Tā wèn mǔqīn wèishéme yào pòhuài fèilì zhī chéng de bù.
He asked mother why she destroyed the laboriously woven fabric.

母亲回答: “这就像你荒废学业, 半途而废.
Mǔqīn huídá:“Zhè jiù xiàng nǐ huāngfèi xuéyè, bàntú’érfèi.
The mother replied, “This is just like your neglecting your studies and giving it up halfway.

这样, 你会一事无成.”
Zhèyàng, nǐ huì yīshìwúchéng.”
This way you will get nowhere.”

孟子深为感动, 牢记在心.
Mèngzǐ shēn wéi gǎndòng, láojì zàixīn.
Mencius was deeply moved and took this advice to heart.

他刻苦学习,成为 了 中国最受尊敬的学者之一.
Tā kèkǔ xuéxí, chéngwéi le zhōngguó zuì shòu zūnjìng de xuézhě zhī yī.
He studied hard and became one of the most respected scholars in China.

You can find additional anecdotes, rhymes and lyrics in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to help increase your proficiency in Chinese.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!
母亲节快乐!
Mǔqīnjié kuàilè!

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