Chinese Song – Words from the West Wind

Lotus Pond at the Botanical Garden in Taipei, Taiwan

Thanks (but, no thanks) to slugs, deer, squirrels and wild rabbits, we did not have much to harvest from our vegetable garden this year. Still, I am happy to have autumn come and ease us into winter. Admiring the fall scenery of green, gold and red, I think of an old song named “Words from the Westwind”, with music by 黄自 (Huáng Zì), and lyrics by 廖辅叔 (Liào Fǔshū). Here is the link to a nice performance of this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjImaRMRg9c

西风的话
Xīfēng de Huà
Words from the West Wind

去年我回来,
Qùnián wǒ huílái,
When I came back last year,

你们刚穿新棉袍.
nǐmen gāng chuān xīn mián páo.
You had just donned your new gown.

今天我来看你们;
Jīntiān wǒ lái kàn nǐmen;
Today I come to visit you,

你们变胖又变高!
Nǐmen biàn pàng yòu biàn gāo!
How stout and tall you have grown!

你们可记得,
Nǐmen kě jìde,
I wonder if you still remember,

池里荷花变莲蓬?
chí lǐ héhuā liánpeng?
The lotus in the pond formed pods?

花少不愁没颜色,
Huā shǎo bù chóu méi yánsè,
Blooms are scarce, but there’ll still be colors,

我把树叶都染红.
wǒ bǎ shùyè dōu rǎn hóng
For I shall tint the leaves with red.

As you may know, west winds are associated with fair weather. Therefore, you would expect kind words from the west wind. In fact, you can tell that the west wind is talking to a bunch of children. (xīn) means new, and 棉袍 (mián páo) are quilted cotton gowns or jackets. Before winter arrives, parents usually give their children new jackets to wear to keep them warm. The big give-away is on the forth line. Only children and youth can keep growing big and tall. (biàn) means to change or to become. (pàng) means plump, chubby or stout, and (gāo) means tall. (yòu) means again or also.

There is no mention of the season of the year in the lyrics. However, you can guess from the context that it is autumn, or 秋天 (qiūtiān). In the fall, the lotus flowers turn into pods, which contain edible lotus seeds. Lotus seed paste makes delicious filling for moon cakes. Here is an interesting article about lotus pods and lotus seeds. https://avecchantillysvp.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/exotic-weird-and-wonderful-fresh-lotus-seeds/

不愁 (bù chóu) means need not worry about something.

我希望世界上所有的人都不愁吃不愁穿.
Wǒ xīwàng shìjièshàng suǒyǒu de rén dōu bù chóu chī bù chóu chuān.
I hope all the people in the world won’t have to worry about want of food or clothing.

There are fewer flowers in autumn than in spring, but we need not worry about lack of colors. The west wind will color the leaves red for us. Here the word (rǎn) means to dye. This word also means to contaminate, to acquire a bad habit or to catch a disease.

當心不要被傳染到感冒.
Dāngxīn bùyào bèi chuánrǎn dào gǎnmào.
Take care not to catch a cold.

Please see Chapter 23 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” for additional words, expressions and songs related to the four seasons.

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Playing a card game or board game in Chinese

Chinese word cards

Some time ago I made a board game as a fun way to help with recognizing and remembering Chinese characters. It is fashioned after the game called “Sequence for Kids”. Instead of cards showing different animals, this “Chinese Sequence” uses cards showing Chinese characters or words. It is best played by two people, such as a teacher and a student, or two students who have become familiar with the game.

Game board with Chinese characters

 

I. Construction

I bought blank cards the size of poker cards, printed the Chinese words on large labels, then affixed the labels onto the blank cards. You will need two identical sets of cards, with 19 cards in each set. The same set of words are printed on two sheets of ledger paper that are joined together to serve as the game board. One half of the game board is pictured here. As the players will be sitting face-to-face across the game board, the two sheets will be joined and positioned such that the Chinese words can be read right-side-up by each player. Unlike Sequence for Kids, I don’t use wild cards. However, the board does provide a free space at each corner. You can use the pieces that come with Sequence for Kids or some other board game, or collect two different colors of plastic bread bag clips (bread tags), 19 pieces each.

The pictures here show the Chinese words with their pinyin annotations. You could omit the pinyin to make the game more challenging.

II. How to Play

Let’s call the players A and B. They are encouraged to speak only Chinese during the game.

Each player chooses the color of the playing pieces and collects his/her pieces in one pile. The players shuffle their own deck of cards then draw the top three cards. If Player A sees a word on the board that matches the first word on one of his/her cards, Player A lays that card aside and places one of his/her pieces on the spot of the board showing that word. Player A draws a new card. Player B gets the turn to do likewise.

The goal of the game is to get four pieces lined up consecutively in a straight row, column or diagonal. A blank space can be counted as part of the sequence. The player would usually try to take advantage of it when feasible. There is strategy involved. Sometimes it is more advantageous to block the progress of the other player’s sequence than to build up your own sequence.

The first person to make the sequence wins the game, and he/she receives one point. The players could agree on a set number of games to play over a period of time. Whoever gets the most points is the final winner.

After the players have familiarized themselves with the first word on the cards, then they will switch to playing the game by matching and calling out the second word on the card with the board. When they have learned all the 57 words, you could make new cards a new boards for them to use.

Another fun way to use the word cards is to give each player 5 or 6 cards and encourage them to make a simple sentence out of the hand. The player gets one point for each card used in the sentence. Those cards are laid aside, and replacement cards drawn.

All right, here are a few card game terms for you to learn:

请洗牌.
Qǐng xǐ pái.
Please shuffle the cards.

请发牌.
Qǐng fā pái.
Please deal the cards.

请给我一张牌.
Please give me a card.
Qǐng gěi wǒ yīzhāng pái.

谢谢.
Xièxiè.
Thanks.

不客气.
Bùkèqi.
You’re welcome.

轮到我了.
Lún dào wǒ le .
My turn.

轮到你了.
Lún dào nǐ le.
Your turn.

我的牌是 . . .
Wǒ de pái shì . . .
Your card is . . .

这一盘我赢了.
Zhè yī pán wǒ yíng le.
I won this game.

这一盘你输了.
Zhè yī pán nǐ shū le.
You lost this game.

三 比 二.
Sān bǐ èr.
3 to 2.

平手.
Píngshǒu.
It’s a draw.

Have fun!

中秋節快樂!
Happy Moon Festival!

 

To be honest in Chinese

Gray Zucchini Fruits (aka Mexican Squash)

My heart is filled with joy when I go to the garden to check on my gray zucchini plants. The huge dark-green leaves spreading out from turgid stems and the light-green fruits swelling up under attractive bright yellow-orange blossoms are indeed wondrous to behold, but my main concern is, “Which puppies will be ready to eat in the next couple of days?” Stir-fried young zucchinis are tender and mildly sweet – a delight to the discerning palate. (See recipe for Vegetarian’s Delight in my “Tame Migrain the Delicious Way” ebook.) I carefully remove any extra blossoms from the plant, chop the golden petals up and toss them into the frypan as well. Yummy! The Chinese call zucchinis 夏南瓜 (xià nánguā summer pumpkins) or 西葫芦 (xīhúlù western gourds). I prefer the latter name because of its interesting ring.

The Chinese word for fruits in general is 果实 (guǒshí). Our focus today is on the other meanings of the character (shí), which relate to the fact that a fruit is something solid and tangible, and therefore real and true.

When interpreted as a combination of a verb and a nouns, the word 结实 (jiēshi) means to bear fruit. Used as an adjective, 结实 (jiēshi) means sturdy, strong, tough or muscular.

实在 (shízài) means real, true, honest or dependable. As an adverb, it translates to indeed or really.

他做人实在.
Tā zuòrén shízài.
He is an honest and dependable person.

我实在不明白她为什么离开我.
Wǒ shízài bù míngbái tā wèishénme líkāi wǒ.
I really don’t understand why she left me.

说实在的, 我很想念她.
Shuō shízài de, wǒ hěn xiǎngniàn tā.
Actually (to state the fact), I miss her very much.

实际上 (shíjìshàng) means in reality or as a matter of fact.

实际上我不赞成他去巴黎.
Shíjìshàng wǒ bù zànchéng tā qù bālí.
In fact I don’t approve of his going to Paris.

不切实际 (bùqièshíjì) means unrealistic or impracticable.

他的计划不切实际.
Tā de jìhuà bùqièshíjì.
His plan is impractical.

On the contrary, 脚踏实地 (jiǎotàshídì to have one’s feet planted on solid ground) means to be earnest and down-to-earth.

The adjective 真实 (zhēnshí) is used to describe something that is true, real or authentic. 真实的故事 (zhēnshí de gùshi) is a true story. 真实的情况 (zhēnshí de qíngkuàng) is the actual situation or what is actually happening. This is often abbreviated as 实况 (shíkuàng). Therefore 实况转播 (shíkuàng zhuǎnbō) is a live broadcast. Similarly, 实情 (shíqíng) also means the actual situation or the true state of affairs. However, it is usually used to refer to the truth of the matter.

The idiom 名符其实 (míngfúqíshí) describes someone who lives up to his or her name. It can be applied to inanimate objects as well. On the other hand, 名不副实 (míngbùfùshí) means unworthy of the name or title.

天堂岛是一个名符其实的度假区.
Tiāntáng dǎo shì yīgè míngfúqíshí de dùjiàqū.
Paradise Island lives up to its name as a vacation area.

确实 (quèshí) means indeed or truely.

一般说来, 台湾的人确实很友善.
Yībān shuō lái, Táiwān de rén quèshí hěn yǒushàn.
Generally speaking, the people in Taiwan are indeed quite friendly.

货真价实 (huòzhēnjiàshí) describes merchandise that is genuine and fairly priced. When used to describe a person, this expression translates to “through and through”. For example,

他是一个货真价实的书呆子.
Tā shì yīgè huòzhēnjiàshí de shūdāizi.
He is a total bookworm.

To verify, or 证实 (zhèngshí), a physical law, one could do an experiment, or 实验 (shíyàn). The laboratory is called 实验室 (shíyànshì). To gain hands-on experience, it also helps to do fieldwork, or 实习 (shíxí).

忠实 (zhōngshí) means faithful or loyal, and 诚实 (chéngshí) means to be honest and not tell lies. 老实 (lǎoshi) means frank, honest and well-behaved, often borderin on being simple-minded, naive or gullible.

他太老实了!
Tā tà lǎoshi le!
He is so gullible!

When you want to start a remark by saying “Frankly” or “To be honest”, you could use the expression 老实说 (lǎoshi shuō).

老实说, 我对他没兴趣.
Lǎoshi shuō, wǒ duì tā méi xìngqù.
To be honest, I’m not interested in him.

To end this lesson on a funny note, I would like you to type “Frankly, I don’t give a fig.” into Google Translate and see what it shows for the Chinese translation. Do you know the correct way of saying this in Chinese?

Ebook for learning Chinese

Chinese ebook 中文電子書   zhōngwén diànzǐ shū

I like to read print books as well as ebooks. I also enjoy listening to audio books. It is through written or spoken words that human beings are able to communicate with one another or pass down information and knowledge from generation to generation. Besides, a good book is like a good friend who informs, educates, advises, entertains, comforts and always remains faithful. Therefore, the value of good books cannot be overestimated.

The traditional Chinese character for books is (shū) . In the simplified Chinese character system, it is represented by (shū). Books can also be referred to as 书本 (shūběn) or 书籍 (shūjí). 教科书 (jiàokēshū) are textbooks, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books and 百科全书 (bǎikēquánshū) is an encyclopedia. 小说 (xiǎoshuō novels) and 闲书 (xiánshū) are for light reading. The general term for books and newspapers is 书报 (shūbào); 书刊 (shūkān) refers to books and periodicals. 书名 (shūmíng) is the title of a book.

这是一本有趣的故事书.
Zhè shì yī běn yǒuqù de gùshi shū.
This is an interesting storybook.

You might go to the library 图书馆 (túshūguǎn) to borrow books 借书 (jiè shū). You might place the books on a desk 书桌 (shūzhuō), a bookrack 书柜 (shūguì) or a bookshelf 书架 (shūjià) in your study 书房 (shūfáng), where you might also find a 订书机 (dìngshūjī stapler).

你有没有这个图书馆的借书证?
Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu zhègè túshūguǎn de jièshūzhèng?
Do you have the library card for this library?

书店 (shūdiàn) is a bookstore, and 书摊 (shūtān) is a bookstall or bookstand. On the other hand, 书局 (shūjú) or 出版社 (chūbǎnshè) is a publishing house.

A grade-school kid usually carries books in a 书包 (shūbāo satchel) or 背包 (bèibāo backpack) to go to school. 读书 (dúshū) means to study or to attend school. At school they might be asked to commit certain reading material to memory. 背书 (bèishū) is to recite a lesson from memory. In the business world, this word means to place one’s endorsement on a cheque.

看书 (kàn shū) is to read, not just to look at a book.

The word (shū) not only refers to books but its meaning also extends to letters and documents. It is also used as a verb (i.e. to write) in classical Chinese.

书信 (shūxìn) and 书简 (shūjiǎn) refers to letters, correspondence or written messages. 手书 (shǒushū) is a personal letter. As a verb, it means to write in one’s own hand.

文书 (wénshū) is a general term for documents. 说明书 (shuōmíngshū) are instruction flyers or pamphlets. 通知书 (tōngzhīshū) are written notices. 上书 (shàngshū) is to submit a written statement to a higher authority.

他常常写情书给安吉.
Tā chángcháng xiě qíngshū gěi Ānjí.
He often writes love letters to Angie.

If he keeps up the effort, he might eventually win her heart and secure a 结婚证书 (jiéhūnzhèngshū marriage certificate).

书写 (shūxiě) means the same as (xiě to write) but is used in a more formal way, sometimes implying the use of Chinese calligraphy. In fact, 书画 (shūhuà) refers to paintings and calligraphy, and the Chinese word for calligraphy is 书法 (shūfǎ). 草书 (cǎoshū) does not mean “grass book”. It is a cursive Chinese writing style that features free flowing strokes that often render the characters unintelligible to the untrained eyes.

书面 (shūmiàn) means “in writing”. So a written permission is called 书面许可 (shūmiànxǔkě).

I guess because a secretary shuffles lots of papers, including confidential documents, he or she is called a 秘书 (mìshū). A bookworm is called a 书呆子 (shūdāizi). 书生 (shūshēng) is a young scholar, while 白面书生 (báimiànshūshēng pale-faced scholar) can imply lack of experience and real-world knowledge.

To encourage people to read books, a well known Chinese saying goes like this:

书中自有黄金屋;
Shū zhòng zì yǒu huángjīn wū;
In books there are mansions of gold;

书中自有颜如玉.
shū zhòng zì yǒu yán rú yù.
in books there are beauties to be found.

(zì) as a noun means self. As an adverb, it means certainly or of course. As a preposition it means from or since. As fiction is the product of an author’s imagination, of course one could find in it fantastic gold mansions and/or out-of-this-world beauties.

(yán) means color. It also refers to one’s face or prestige. A beautiful woman’s complexion is often compared to the color of white jade. Therefore, 如玉 (rú yù) is an expression for complimenting on a woman’s beautiful face.

In the book titled “By the Great Horn Spoon”, the main character Praiseworthy, a gentlemanly butler managed to beat a burly hillbilly in a boxing match all because he had studied the strategy and tactics from a boxing instruction book. If you haven’t read this entertaining and educative book, here are the links to the audio files: Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxC3ywSnNSc, Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk-Xgqqxbmo

Although it helps to attend a Chinese language instruction class, you can study Chinese on your own if you can get hold of good books and audio material. Many of my readers have found “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” helpful. I am pleased to announce that this book is now available in ebook format. You can download it from amazon.com or Apple iBooks Store. If you’ve already purchased the printed book from amazon.com and wish to also get the ebook version, you can do so at amazon.com for a discounted MatchBook price. If you have any questions about learning Chinese, feel free to post a comment to any article on this blog site.

How beautiful in Chinese

Rhododendrons in Bloom

Rhododendrons in Bloom


To help celebrate the joy of spring before it is outshone by the glory of summer, I’ll call on a delightful old song written by the talented 黎锦光 (Lí Jǐn Guāng):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYCdz2t-T_c

The first verse is presented below in simplified Chinese.

少年的我 (Shàonián de Wǒ) Me in My Youth

春天的花
Chūntiān de huā
Flowers in the spring –

是多么的香!
shì duōme de xiāng.
How fragrant they are!

秋天的月
Qiūtiān de yuè
The moon in the fall –

是多么的亮!
shì duōme de liàng.
How bright it is!

少年的我
Shàonián de wǒ
Me in my youth –

是多么的快乐!
shì duōme de kuàilè.
How happy I’m feeling!

美丽的她
Měilì de tā
Beautiful she –

不知怎么样?
bùzhī zěnmeyàng?
I wonder how she is doing?

This song is full of exclamatory sentences that start with the word “how”. Used in this sense, the Chinese equivalent is 是多么的 (shì duōme de), 是多么 (shì duōme), or simply 多么 (duōme), which is often shortened to just (duō).

他對待妳是多么的好!
Tā duìdài nǐ shì duōme de hǎo!
How nice he treats you!

妳看, 她的男朋友多么英俊!
Nǐ kàn, tā de duōme yīngjùn!
See, how handsome her boyfriend is!

啊! 多美丽!
Ā! Duō měilì
Oh! How beautiful!

As for the other meaning of “how”, as in asking a question, the commonly used Chinese equivalent is 怎么 (zěnme). In a more formal context, we use 如何 (rúhé). For example:

这种鱼要怎么煮?
Zhèzhǒng yú yào zěnme zhǔ?
How do you cook this kind of fish?

To verbally inquire about an acquaintance, I might ask:

他最近怎么样?
Tā zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?
How is he doing lately?

In a letter, I might write:

他的近况如何?
Tā de jìnkuàng rúhé?
How has he been recently?

Your challenge for this lesson is to use the same syntax and form as the above song to make a short rhyme about a subject of your choice. If you would like to share your limerick, please post it in a comment to this post. Thanks.

Learn the Chinese word for pain

Migraine Cookbook
偏頭疼食譜

Voilà! I’ve just published the ebook titled “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way“. I wrote the manuscript quite a while ago and only in the past couple years had the time to take pictures for the featured recipes. During this time, many new studies and researches have been done on migraines, but a full understanding of this disorder still eludes us. In “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way” I summarize my experience and what I have learned about this disease. An important point is that certain groups of food trigger migraines, and eliminating those foods from your diet will help prevent the onset of a migraine attack. How to make tasty dishes without calling on bacon, sausages, milk and cheese? The answer can be found in the over one hundred recipes included in this ebook, which show you how to make dishes of food that you as well as the other members of your family can enjoy. You can find this book at amazon.com and  various other digital stores and read it on these devices: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Tolino. In case you do not have any of these devices, you could still read the ebook on your PC. If you would like to know how to make a delicious Egg Flower Soup, or 蛋花汤 (dànhuātāng), you are welcome to read my blog at https://tamemigraine.wordpress.com.

The migraine disorder exhibits itself in a variety of symptoms in various parts of the body. The most prominent symptom is a throbbing, pounding headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. This is why in Chinese it is called 偏头疼 (piān tóuténg).

(piān) means inclined or deviated to one side. Therefore, having a biased mind is called 偏心 (piānxīn). If the teacher favors a certain student, the other students are sure to sense it and complain amongst themselves:

老師偏心; 這不公平.
Lǎoshī piānxīn; zhè bùgōngping.
The teacher shows favoritism; it’s not fair.

The two most commonly used words for pain and aches in Chiese are (téng) and (tòng). Often these characters are combined into one word: 疼痛 (téngtòng pain, ache, soreness).

Pain can occur in different parts of your body. So, 牙痛 (yátòng) is a toothache. 头疼 (tóuténg) or 头痛 (tóutòng) is having a headache, and 脚痛 (jiǎo tòng) ) means the foot hurts. And 头痛医头, 脚痛医脚. (Tóutòngyītóujiǎotòngyījiǎo.) means to treat the symptoms but not the illness, i.e. not getting to the root cause of a problem.

Same as with English, 头疼 (tóuténg) and 头痛 (tóutòng) can also refer to a figurative headache.

這真是一件令人头痛的事.
Zhè zhēnshì yī jiàn lìngrén tóutòng de shì.
This is truly a bothersome matter.

If you have a health problem with your heart, and you feel pain in the chest, you would say, “我心脏痛. (Wǒ xīnzàng tòng.” or “我胸口疼. (Wǒ xiōngkǒu téng.)”

On the other hand, if you love a child dearly, if you feel discressed, or if you feel sorry for someone, you would use the word 心疼 (xīnténg). For example,

她最心疼她的大女儿.
Tā zuì xīnténg tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

Another way to say it is:

她最疼愛她的大女儿.
Tā zuì téng’ai tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

他的儿子不愿继承他的事业; 他万分心疼.
Tā de érzi bù yuàn jìchéng tā de shìyè; tā wànfēn xīnténg.
His son is unwilling to carry on his enterprise; he is extremely distressed.

In this sense, 心疼 (xīnténg) is equivalent to 痛苦 (tòngkǔ to feel pain or agony).

他忘掉了以往痛苦的日子.
Tā wàngdiào le yǐwǎng tòngkǔ de rìzi.
He forgot those painful days in the past.

他陷入无限的痛苦之中.
Tā xiànrù wúxiàn de tòngkǔ zhī zhòng.
He fell into a pit of infinite suffering.

悲痛 (bēitòng) means grief, grieved, sorrow or sorrowful.

忍痛 (rěntóng) means to endure pain. Figuratively it meas to do something very reluctantly.

The word (tòng) also serves as the abbreviation for 痛快 (tòngkuài), which means straightforward, to one’s heart’s content or to one’s great satisfaction. Therefore, 痛斥 (tòngchì) means to chide bitterly, and 痛哭 (tòngkū) is to wail or cry one’s heart out. In these cases, (tòng) is not directly associated with pain.

我們到了台北之後, 要痛快地吃一頓.
Wǒmén dàole Táiběi zhīhòu, yào tòngkuài de chī yī dùn.
When we get to Taipei, we are determined to have a hearty feast.

As for “pain” in the sense of “effort”, the Chinese word is 努力 (nǔlì), and not (tòng). This is how you would say “No pain, no gain” in Chinese:

一分耕耘一分收获.
Yī fēn gēngyún yī fēn shōuhuò.

耕耘 (gēngyún) is to cultivate the field by ploughing and weeding. 收获 (shōuhuò) is to gather in the crop. Therefore, one is expected to harvest or profit in proportion to the effort one has put in.

 

Chinese idioms involving the dog

Puppy Figurine


If you forgot to make a New Year’s resolution, now is your chance to make a Chinese New Year’s resolution. My resolution this year is to complete one of the books that have been sitting on my back burner for years. This one is a cookbook for people who are prone to the migraine disease. If you are a fellow migraineur, stay tuned. Hopefully the Year of the Dog will lend me the required energy to get this e-book out soon.

Speaking of dogs, the very first song my mother taught me when I was little had these lines:

一只哈巴狗
Yī zhī hǎbagǒu
A Pekingese dog

蹲在大门口
dūn zài dàmén kǒu
squats at the front entrance,

眼睛黑黝黝
yǎnjing hēiyōuyōu
with eyes shiny black,

想吃肉骨头
xiǎng chī ròu gútou
wanting to eat a meaty bone.

Dogs, or 狗 (gǒu), have been man’s best friend for about 3300 years. However, they have received mixed reviews in regards to their personality. Their unparalleled loyalty, or 忠诚度 (zhōngchéng dù), and capacity for love make them heart-winning house pets, or 宠物 (chǒngwù). On the other hand, when their mean streaks surface, they are cute no more, and in both English and Chinese the word “dog” also equates to “damned” or “cursed”. Therefore there are quite a few commonly used Chinese idioms that do not feature dogs in the best light.

In general, keeping a dog in a home is regarded as auspicious. When you learn of a friend’s adopting a pet dog, you could congratulate him or her by saying:

狗来福.
Gǒu lái fú.
Dog comes and brings good fortune.

Dogs have much keener sense of smell, sight and hearing than human beings. They can protect a family by barking or yapping at strangers. It is believed that they are able to tell the good guys from the bad as well as the rich and powerful from the poor and dejected. When someone puts you down, you are apt to think:

哼! 狗眼看人低!
Hng! Gǒuyǎnkànrén dī!
Humph! What a snob (like a dog)!

Sometimes the dog makes a mistake, as in the following story. 呂洞賓 (Lǚ Dòngbīn) was a scholar in the Tang Dynasty. He was well known for his studies in Taoism, medicine and various other subject matters as well as his kind heart. People ranked him among one of the eight great immortals of that time. It came to pass that one day Lǚ saw a starving dog. Out of sympathy, he gave the dog the dumpling that he was eating. The dog devoured the dumpling, but turned around and bit Lǚ. If someone ill rewards your kindness, you could tell others about it by using this saying:

狗咬呂洞賓, 不识好人心.
Ggǒuyǎolǚdòngbīn, bù shì hǎorén xīn.
Dog bites Lǚ Dòngbīn; can’t recognize a good heart when it sees one.

Often a dog will threaten people on the strength of its master’s power. 狗仗人勢 (Gǒuzhàngrénshì) means to bully someone under the protection of a powerful superior.

Now, if a dog bothers you, but it has a powerful master, or if the dog’s master is your friend, you would think twice before hitting the dog. The following idiom teaches you to look at the bigger picture instead of reacting hastily in some situations.

打狗看主人.
Dǎ gǒu kàn zhǔrén.
Mind whose dog it is before you strike.

Like a cornered dog, a person who has run out of resources might do something desperate. 狗急跳牆 (gǒujítiàoqiáng) means that, in a dire situation, a dog could jump over a wall.

Literally 打落水狗 (dǎluòshuǐgǒu) is to beat a drowning dog. Figuratively it means to deal a blow to a person who has lost power or favor, or to completely crush a defeated enemy.

If you made an inexcusable blunder at your job, your boss might level a stream of abusive language at you. This is likened to a jet of dog blood sprayed onto your head, as in:

老板把我骂了个狗血噴頭.
Lǎobǎn bǎ wǒ mà le gè gǒuxuěpēntóu.
The boss gave me a piece of his mind.

People who love to advise others but only have inept or even bad advice to offer are referred to as 狗頭軍師 (gǒutóujūnshī). 军师 (jūnshī) is a military counsellor.

The following expressions involve the dog plus another animal.

狗咬耗子 (gǒu yǎo hàozi) translates to: “Dog bites rat.” It refers to people meddling in other people’s affairs, which are none of their business.

If someone, for whom you have little regard, utters crude language, offers useless advice, or writes a mediocre article, you might make this disparaging remark to a third party:

狗嘴里长不出象牙.
Gǒu zuǐ li zhǎng bù chū xiàngyá.
A dog’s mouth can’t grow ivory.
(What can a dog do but bark?)

挂羊头卖狗肉 (guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu) means to display a goat’s head but sell dog meat, in other words, to bait and switch.

狐群狗党 (húqúngǒudǎng) refers to a gang of scoundrels (compared to foxes and wild dogs). 群 (qún) is a group of people, a crowd or a heard of animals. 党 (dǎng) usually refers to a political party.

You might describe a cold-blooded or unscrupulous person as having a wolf’s heart and a dog’s lungs, as in 狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi).

偷鸡摸狗 (tōu jī mō gǒu) means to engage in petty dishonest activities, such as stealing or having extra-marital affairs. 偷 (tōu) is to steal, pilfer or to be on the sly. 摸 (mō) is to feel or touch.

In traditional Chinese families, people are of the opinion that a daughter who has been married off must stick with her husband regardless of what kind of person he is. Remember that in earlier times, marriages were arranged by the parents, and Chinese women did not have a choice of whom they married.

嫁雞隨雞,嫁狗隨狗.
Jià jī suí jī, jià gǒu suí gǒu.
If you married a chicken, follow the chicken,
and if you married a dog, follow the dog.

It is interesting to note that the original saying goes like this:

嫁乞随乞,嫁叟随叟.
Jià qǐ suí qǐ, jià sǒu suí sǒu.
If you married a beggar, follow the beggar,
and if you married an old man, follow the old man.

No matter which way the saying is phrased, it teaches the women to 认命 (rènmìng), i.e. to accept their fate and try to work out the differences to keep the marriage in harmony. I think that goes for men as well.

Yeah, check out Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes
to learn additional Chinese expressions, idioms and sayings.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrén Jié kuàilè!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

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