Homonyms for the Chinese word for deer

Deer in the Woods

Deer in the Woods

Deer are not part of the Chinese zodiac. They are getting a mention here because the Chinese word for deer has a number of homonyms that I’d like to bring to your attention.

Deer in Chinese is 鹿 (lù). Sika deer, or 梅花鹿 (méihuālǜ), originated mostly from Japan, Taiwan and East Asia. They are mentioned in “The Little Monk“, a short novel that features Taiwan in the seventeenth century.

Giraffes are called 长颈鹿 (chángjǐnglù), or long-necked deer. 驼鹿 (tuólù) refers to moose or elks.

Literally, 逐鹿 (zhúlù) means to chase the deer. Figuratively, it means to bid for state power.

中原 (zhōngyuán) are the Central Plains in China that cover the middle and lower reaches of the Huanghe River. Many ancient Chinese dynasties established their government seats in this central area. The term 中原 (zhōngyuán) is also generally used to refer to the entire country of China. Therefore, 逐鹿中原 (zhúlùzhōngyuán) is to engage in a fight for the throne.

People competing for a high position or a coveted prize are likened to hunters going after the same deer. If you have no diea about who will most likely be the winner, you could say:

Bùzhī lùsǐshuíshǒu.
Don’t know at whose hand the deer will die.

鹿皮 (lùpí) is deerskin.

There are many other words that are pronounced exactly the same as 鹿 (lù). We will look at a few common ones.

(lù) or 山麓 (shānlù) is the foot of a mountain.

(lù) or 道路 (dàolù) is a road, a path or a route. 高速公路 (gāosùgōnglù) is a freeway, and 地下铁路 (dìxiàtiělù) means subway. 路标 (lùbiāo) is a road sign, and 路灯 (lùdēng) are street lamps.

Crossroads are called 十字路口 (shízìlùkǒu). See how the Chinese numeral 10 looks like an intersection of two roads.

路面 (lùmiàn) is the road surface or pavement. 路边 (lùbiān roadside or curb) is usually used as an adverb,as in:

There are many street vendors on the road side.
Lù biān yǒu xǔduō tānfàn.

迷路 (mílù) means to lose one’s way. When you lose your way, you will want to ask for directions, or 问路 (wènlù), and someone might be kind enough to show you the way, or 带路 (dàilù).

路程 (lùchéng) is the distance traveled or to be traveled on a journey.

走路 (zǒulù) means to go on foot. 路人 (lùrén) are passersby.

路人皆知 (lùrénjiēzhī) is an idiom that means everybody knows, referring to a well-known fact.

走投无路 (zǒutóuwúlù) means to have no way out or to be in an impasse.

When (lù) takes on a bird radical, it becomes (lù). 白鹭 (báilù) is a great white egret, and 苍鹭 (cānglù) is a gray heron.

(lù) or 陆地 (lùdì) means land, and 着陆 (zhuólù) is a verb that means to land. 大陆 (dàlù) means mainland or a continent. Eurasia is called 欧亚大陆 (Oūyàdàlù). 内陆 (nèilù) means inland or interior.

陆军 (lùjūn) is the ground force or army, and 海军陆战队 (hǎijūnlùzhànduì) are the marine corps.

陆续 (lùxù) means one after another.

Lǚkèmen lùxù shàngle huǒchē.
The travelers got on the train one after another.

(lù) means to kill or slay, and 杀戮 (shālù) is a massacre.

(lù) and 贿赂 (huìlù) are bribes. 贿赂 (huìlù) can also be used as a verb.

Zhèngzhí de guānyuán bù huì jiēshòu huìlù.
Upright officials will not accept bribes.

As a noun, (lù) means dew. It can also refer to a sweet drink distilled from flowers. 雨露 (yǔlù) is rain and dew. Figuratively, it connotes grace or a favour. On the other hand, 鱼露 (yúlù) is fish sauce. This is one example of why it is important to pay attention to the tone of the Chinese words you utter.

As a verb, (lù) means to reveal or to show. So, 露出 (lùchū) is to expose or to protrude from under a cover.

露面 (lùmiàn) means to show one’s face or to appear. In ancient China, women from good families were expected to stay at home and lead a private existence. Those who dared to show themselves unashamedly in public, or 抛头露面 (pāotóulùmiàn), were looked down upon

露一手 (lòuyīshǒu) is to show off one’s abilities or skills.

Literally, 露骨 (lùgǔ) means showing one’s bones. Figuratively, this expression describes a remark or action that is considered point-blank, explicit, or without polite disguise.

不露声色 (bùlùshēngsè) means to do things quietly and not show one’s feeling or intentions, like keeping a poker face.

原形 (yuánxíng) is the original shape or the true shape under the disguise. 原形毕露 (yuánxíng bìlù) is having the whole truth unmasked. In the same vein, 露出马脚 (lùchūmǎjiǎo) is to reveal the cloven foot or to give oneself away unintentionally.

透露 (tòulù) is to divulge, disclose or leak information.

If you see a friend taking a large wad of cash out of his wallet to count in the open, you could offer him this advice:

Cái bù lòubái
Don’t show your money in front of people.

露天 (lùtiān) means in the open air or outdoors. Therefore, an outdoor concert is called 露天演唱会 (lùtiān yǎnchàng huì).

露营 (lùyíng) is to camp out. When amping out, please be careful not to start a forest fire!

(lù) means to write down, to record or to register. 记录 (jìlù) is to record or take notes. A documentary film is called 纪录片 (jìlùpiàn).

录取 (lùqǔ) is to recruit, and 录用 (lùyòng) is to take on as an employee.

录音 (lùyīn) means sound recording. 录像机 (lùxiàngjī) is a video-recorder or camcorder. In Taiwan, it is called 录影机 (lùyǐng jī).

(lù) is also used as a noun that means a record or a collection of records. Memoirs are called 回忆录 (huíyìlù).

(lù) means busy or commonplace. 忙碌 (mánglù) is to bustle about, or to be busy with commonplace things.

劳碌 (láolù) to toil or work hard.

(lù) or 俸禄 (fènglù) refers to an official’s salary in ancient China. Therefore, it is an auspicious word. Therefore 福禄双全 (fúlùshuāngquán be happy and wealthy) is a popular wish to give to or to receive from an acquaintance.

Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Labor Day in Chinese

Bee in Flower

Bee Collecting Pollens

In “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” we talked about a number of the major Chinese holidays. Here in the USA we are celebrating today the Labor Day, i.e. 劳工节 (láogōng jié). This is different from the 劳动节
(láodòngjié), which is the International Labour Day on May 1. Labor Day was the day the Labor Movement was created in the USA to fight for better wages, reasonable working hours and safer working conditions. This national holiday is annually observed as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

劳工 (láogōng) or 工人 (gōngrén) are workers, and 运动 (yùndòng) could refer to a physical exercise or a movement.

Láogōng duìyú jīngjì yǒu hěn dà de gòngxiàn.
The workers contribute greatly to the economy.

The sociey needs the support of workers, just like a bee colony needs to be maintained by the worker bees. It is interesting that in a bee colony, all the work is carried out by female bees.

Gōngfēng jiànzào fēngwō.
The worker bees construct the bee hive.

Tāmen qínláo de shōují huāfěn, huāmì, yǐjí shuǐ.
They diligently collect pollen, nectar and water.

Tāmen niàng zhì fēngmì lái wèi yòuchóng.
They make honey to feed the larvae.

Tāmen shènzhì yào fùzé yǔ dírén zuòzhàn.
They are even charged with the duty of battling the enemies.

Tāmen cōngmáng lái qù, fēicháng mánglù.
They hurry to and fro and are very busy.

Tāmen duìyú gōngzuò yǒu nónghòu de xìngqù.
They have a keen interest in doing their work.

Rúguǒ tāmen zài tiān nuǎn huā hǎo de shíhòu bù nǔlì gōngzuò,
If they don’t work hard when the flowers are blooming and the weather is fair,

Jiānglái rúhé nénggòu ānquán dùguò dōngtiān?
how can they survive winter in the future?

Now, watch this video and give yourself a pat on the back if you understand the lyrics 100%.

If you would like to practice writing some of the Chinese characters, please print out Chinese Character Tracing 30.

If you would like to play this simple song on a keyboard, click here to get the music sheet.

Láogōng jié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Labor Day!

Fortuitous Encounter in Chinese

Zucchinis coming out of my ears

Zucchinis coming out of my ears

As part of my disaster preparation effort this year, I sowed quite a few zucchini seeds in the spring. Zucchinis are known to be very prolific, but at this time I’m still waiting to see the explosion of zucchini fruits to come out of my ears. Should that happen in the near future, and we have extras not consumed with our regular meals, my plan is for these nutritious summer squashes to go into the freezer, the dehydrator, the zucchini breads and, of course, my neighbors’ homes. Yep, that’s what neighbors are for. 😉

Well, today I mainly want to share with you another wonderful encounter with a cute little humming bird in my yard. Hopefully this will help you forget for a moment the disasters and turmoils currently taking place at home and abroad. (Click here to read my previous blog post about a happy encounter with a hummingbird.)

Jīntiān zǎochén wǒ zài yuán lǐ jiāoshuǐ de shíhòu,
This morning while I was watering in the garden,

yòu tīng dào fēngniǎo zhèn chì de shēngyīn.
again I heard the sound of a hummingbird flapping its wings.

Zhè huí shì yī zhǐ gèng xiǎo de fēngniǎo.
This time it was an even smaller hummingbird.

Tā xiàng mìfēng yīyàng wéirào zhe wǒ fēile yīhuǐ’er,
It flew around me like a bee for a while

ránhòu zhuǎn tóu fēi xiàng yóu shuǐ guàn sǎ chū de xì shuǐzhù,
then turned and flew toward the thin column of water from the watering can,

xīle jǐ dīshuǐ zhīhòu cái xīnrán lí qù.
and sucked a few drops of the water before departing cheerfully.

Zhēn kěxí nà shí méiyǒu lìngwài liǎng zhī shǒu
What a pity that at that time there was not another pair of hands available

kěyǐ bāng wǒ lù xià zhè qíyù.
to capture on video this fortuitous encounter for me.

浇水 (jiāoshuǐ) means watering.
(yòu) can mean once again or also.
蜂鸟 (fēngniǎo) are hummingbirds.
振翅 (zhèn chì) means to flap the wings .
(gèng) means to a greater degree or extent.
这回 (zhè huí) means this time. It has the same meaning as 这次 (zhè cì).
蜜蜂 (mìfēng) are honeybees or bees in general.
像 . . . 一样 (xiàng . . . yīyàng) means to be same as.
围绕 (wéirào) can mean to go around or to surround.
转头 (zhuǎn tóu) and 转身 (zhuǎn shēn) both mean to turn around or turn away.
(xī) is to suck or suck up.
欣然 (xīnrán) means joyfully or gladly.
可惜 (kěxī) means too bad or it’s a pity.
另外 (lìngwài) as an adjactive means some other. As a conjunctive adverb, it means moreover or in addition.
(lù) is to record or to write down.
奇遇 (qíyù) is a fortuitous encounter.

Sing Tenting Tonight in Chinese

American Flag

American Flag

“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”, also known as “Tenting Tonight”, is a sorrowful anti-war song with words and music composed by Walter Kittredge during the American Civil War. It describes the atrocities of war and reveals how soldiers actually long for peace and don’t really want to go to war.

露营 means to camp out, usually in a tent. 扎营 is to set up a tent. Here, we are talking about a military camp. My brother liked to sing this song, and that’s how I came to know it. I’ve made the Chinese translation easy to sing, while still closely following the English verses.


今夜在这里露营 Tenting Tonight
 Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng

Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng zhá xià yíng
We’re tenting to-night on the old camp ground,

Chàng zhī gē lái tīng tīng.
Give us a song to cheer

唱唱家园, 朋友的情景,                 
Chàng chàng jiāyuán péngyǒu de qíngjǐng
Our weary hearts, a song of home,

ānwèi wǒmén píbèi de xīn.
And friends we love so dear.

Yǒu duōshao de rén jīnwǎn xīnqíng bù níng,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,

Qíwàng zhànhuǒ kuài kuài tíng.
Wishing for the war to cease,

Yǒu duōshao de rén kěwàng néng yǒu xìng
Many are the hearts looking for the right,

kàndào bǎoguì de hépíng.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜露营, 今夜露营,                     
Jīn yè lùyíng, jīn yè lùyíng,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,

Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng.
Tenting on the old camp ground.


今夜又在老战场上露营,                ,
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng lùyíng
We’ve been tenting to-night on the old camp ground

Sī xiāng zhī qíng gèng qiè.
Thinking of days gone by,

Xiǎngdào jiārén wò zhe shǒu dīngníng,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand

Yīyī huī lèi dào bié.
And the tear that said “Good-by!”

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
Tenting on the old camp ground.


Wǒmén bùzài rèqiè chěng yīngyǒn,
We are tired of war on the old camp ground.

Yǒuxiē rén yǐ bà mìng sòng.
Many are dead and gone.

Lí xiāng bèi jǐng de dìxiōng
Of the brave and true who’ve left their homes,

Dàdū fùshāng cǎnzhòng.
Others been wounded long.

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
Tenting on the old camp ground.


Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng shàng huǒ pīn
We’ve been fighting to-day on the old camp ground,

Dìxiōng zhū biàndì tǎng.
Many are lying near;

有些已逝, 有些奄奄呻吟,               
Yǒuxiē yǐ shì, yǒuxiē yǎnyǎn shēnyín,
Some are dead, and some are dying,

Yě yǒurén lèi mǎn kuàng.
Many are in tears.

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜成仁, 今夜成仁,
Jīn yè chéngrèn, jīn yè chéngrèn,
Dying tonight, dying tonight,

Jīn yè zài zhelǐ chéngrèn.
Dying on the old camp ground.


Zhù nǐ yǒu gè měihǎo de qīyuè sìrì!
Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Pizza Time in Chinese

Home-made Pizza

Home-made Pizza

Well, the Chinese translation for “Pizza time!” depends on how you interpret this expression:

Lái chī bǐsà!
Come and eat pizza!

Lái zuò bǐsà!
Come and make pizza!

Pizza is a popular fast food that originated in Italy. 意大利 (Yìdàlì) means Italy, and 意大利人 (Yìdàlì rén) refers to Italians. If you are interested in making pizzas, you will find the links to a few relevant YouTube videos as well as a link to Mel’s quick and easy foolproof pizza dough recipe in the following conversation.

Nǐ zhīdào zěnme zuò bǐsà ma?
Do you know how to make a pizza?

Yīnggāi bùhuì tài nàn ba.
It shouldn’t be too difficult.

Wǒ xǐhuān kàn wéi tuò de shìfàn.
I like to watch Vito’s demonstrations.

Tā zuò de bǐsà kànlai jìnhu wánměi.
The pizzas he makes appear to be nearly perfect.

Wǒ xiǎng xiàng tā xuéxí.
I would like to learn from him.

如何甩比萨? 掉到地上怎么办?
Rúhé shuǎi bǐsà? Diào dào dì shàng zěnmebàn?
How to toss a pizza? What if it falls on the floor?

Nǐ kěyǐ yòng yī tiáo shī máojín lái liànxí.
You could use a damp hand towel to practice.

Guāngshì děng jiào zhǒng fā hǎo jiùyào shí’èr dào shíliù xiǎoshí.
Just to wait for the poolish to be ready will take 12 to 16 hours.

我不能等那么久. 我饿了.
Wǒ bùnéng děng nàme jiǔ. Wǒ è le.
I cannot wait that long. I’m hungry.

那么, 我们来做简易的那一种.
Nàme, wǒmén lái zuò jiǎnyì de nà yī zhǒng.
Well then, let’s make the quick and easy type.

谢谢. 这种其实也蛮好吃.
Xièxiè. zhèzhǒng qíshí yě mán hǎochī.
Thank you. This kind actually tastes quite good, too.

If making pizzas is not your cup of tea, perhaps you could try your skill at playing this simple Spinning Game.

To learn the names of some common food items, please read Chapters 20 and 21 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Fùqīnjié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Father’s Day!

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