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). 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

English Edition of The Little Monk 

Chinese Edition of The Little Monk

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.

Chinese idioms and folk wisdom

Ripe Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes

Beautiful Ripened Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes

This spring, out of curiosity, I planted an interesting variety of tomato named “Indigo Rose”. The fruits maintained a deep indigo color with a green bottom until they finally matured. That was when the green portion turned orange-red. Only after I began harvesting the ripened fruits did I realize how this cultivar got its beautiful name. Why, a cute orange rose revealed itself on the tomato when I removed the tiny stem. There is no way I would let this season slip by without sharing the beauty of these tomatoes with you.

Now, what does this picture have to do with the idioms we will be talking about today? Well, here’s an idiom that is arguably relevant:

情人眼中出西施.
Qíngrén yǎn zhōng chū Xīshī.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

情人 (qíngrén) are lovers. In the lover’s eyes, the object of love compares to 西施 (Xīshī), who was touted in Chinese literature as the most flawless beauty in China.

I am halfway through reading ” Don Quijote 1 & 2 Español – English: Complete and Unabridged (Spanish Edition) “. I only read the English portion as I don’t speak Spanish, but I think this bilingual book can be very helpful for Spanish-speaking students who are learning English, or for English-speaking students who are learning Spanish because each paragraph in Spanish is followed by the corresponding paragraph in English. The conversations between the characters in this book are filled with idioms and wisecracks, and it struck me how so much of the same folk wisdom sprang up independently within different cultures.

Some Chinese refer to Don Quixote as 唐吉诃德 (táng jí hē dé). In Don Quixote’s imagination, Dulcinea was the 西施 (Xīshī), even though he had never set eyes on her. Such was the power of “pure and chaste” admiration from afar.

Following are a few idioms and sayings selected from the above-mentioned book, accompanied by their Chinese equivalent.

“a heart of marble”

铁石心肠
Tiěshíxīncháng
heart of iron and stone

“The wheel of fortune turns faster than a mill-wheel.”

风水轮流转
fēngshuǐ lúnliu zhuàn
Every dog has his day.

轮流 (lúnliu) means to take turns, such as while playing a card game. Good fortune does not always stay with the same people. This means you might get your turn yet.

“One devil is like another.”

天下乌鸦一般黑
Tiānxiàwūyāyībānhēi
Evil people are bad all the world over.
(All ravens are black.)

“Let us not throw the rope after the bucket.”

无济于事 or 无补于事
Wújìyúshì or wúbǔyúshì
of no avail

济 (jì) means to be of help or to benefit.
补 (bǔ) means to mend, repair, supply, make up for, nourish, or help.

“to have companion in trouble gives some relief”

同病相怜
Tóngbìngxiānglián
Fellow sufferers commiserate with each other.

“If the blind lead the blind, both are in danger of falling into the pit.”

盲人骑瞎马
Mángrén qí xiā mǎ
A blind man riding on a blind horse (heading to disaster)

“As we have loaves, let’s not go looking for cakes.”

知足长乐
Zhīzú cháng lè
Be contented with your lot and you will stay happy.

Please note that 足 (zú) has several meanings: foot, leg, sufficient, enough, ample, satisfied. 手足 (shǒuzú hands and feet) refers to brothers.

“come for wool and go back shorn”
偷鸡不得失把米.
Tōu jī bùdé shī bǎ mǐ.
Failed in attempting to to steal the chicken and lost a handful of rice in the process.

“Love has no greater enemy than hunger and constant want.”

爱情不能当面包.
Àiqíng bùnéng dāng miànbāo.
Love cannot not quell hunger like bread.

“All comparisons are odious.”

人比人气死人.
Rénbǐrén, qìsǐrén.
Comparing yourself with others will only make you angry.

“Tell me what company thou keepest and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”

物以类聚.
Wùyǐlèijù.
Like attracts like. (Birds of a feather flock together.)

“He who’s prepared has his battle half fought.”

有备无患
Yǒubèiwúhuàn
Preparedness averts peril.

准备 (zhǔnbèi) means to prrpare, or preparation.

我们要预先做好准备.
wǒmén yào yùxiān zuò hǎo zhǔnbèi.
We should make preparation beforehand.

This is particularly true when you have a test to take, or when the electric power might go out.

Now, let’s watch a video clip of “The Impossible Dream” (不可能实现的梦想 Bùkěnéng shíxiàn de mèngxiǎng) How can one help falling in love with such a beautiful melody, such as marvelous voice and such a brilliant performance?

By the way, if you have little ones, they might enjoy the Chinese nursery rhyme for counting frogs.

A joke retold in Chinese

Laughing

Today I will tell you a modified version of a joke that I once read in the Reader’s Digest. I will provide just the Chinese text and let you figure out the joke by referring to the associated vocabulary list below.

有一对夫妻因为吵架,已经

两天没有同对方讲话了。

有必要的时候,他们用电邮

把话传给对方。

这一天,那位先生传电邮给太太:

“明天早上八点钟我得去公司开会。

请你七点叫我起来。”

第二天,那位先生起床时,已经八点钟了。

他非常生气,正要写电邮去责备太太时,

看到了太太的电邮:

“起来吧。现在七点了。”

一对 (yīduì) a couple, a pair
夫妻 (fūqī) man and wife.
因为 (yīnwei) because
吵架 (chǎojià) quarrel
已经 (yǐjīng) already
两天 (liǎng tiān) two
没有 (méiyǒu) have not (done something)
同 (tóng) with
对方 (duìfāng) the other party
讲话 (jiǎnghuà) speak, talk
必要 (bìyào) necessary
时候 (shíhòu) a point in time
他们 (tāmen) they
電郵 (diànyóu) or 電子郵件 (diànzǐyóujiàn) electronic mail (email)
话 (huà) words
传 (chuán) transmit
先生 (xiānsheng) husband
太太 (tàitài) wife
明天 (míngtiān) tomorrow
早上 (zǎoshàng) morning.
八 (bā) eight
点钟 (diǎnzhōng) o’clock
得 (děi) must, have to
去 (qù) go
公司 (gōngsī) company
开会 (kāihuì) attend a meeting
请 (qǐng) please
叫 (jiào) call
起来(qǐlái) or 起床 (qǐchuáng) get up, rise or get out of bed
第二天(dì’èr tiān ) the following day
已经 (yǐjīng) already.
非常 (fēicháng) very
生气 (shēngqì) angry
正要 (zhèng yào) just about to
责备 (zébèi) reproach
看到 (kàndào) see
现在 (xiànzài) now
七 (qī) seven

  • Special Announcement:

I have just self-published a novel titled “My Fatima“. This is a story about the friendship between a 14-year old German girl and her Palestinian schoolmate Fatima and how the lives of these two girls were changed forever by the culture and political strife in the Middle East.

To see the paperback version and Kindle eBook version listed at at amazon.com, please click on this link.

To watch the book trailer video, please click on this link.

To listen to the Arabic “Postman” song mentioned in the story of “My Fatima”, please click on this link.

 

Various ways to laugh in Chinese

SmilesThe Chinese word for (xiào) can mean to laugh, to smile or to ridicule.

他开心地笑了.
Tā kāixīn de xiào le.
He laughed heartily.

To be specific, use 微笑 (wēixiào) for smiling, such as in 會心的微笑 (huìxīn de wēixiào), which means a knowing.smile.

她向我微笑.
Tā xiàng wǒ wēixiào.
She smiles at me.

If you follow (xiào) with a noun, then you are ridiculing that person, object or event.

大家笑他贪吃.
Dàjiā xiào tā tān chī.
Everyone laughs at him for being piggish.

How one expresses a laugh can communicate a gamut of different feelings. Following are a number of Chinese words that represent various ways of laughing. Notice how they all explicitly contain the word (xiào).

发笑 (fāxiào) is to issue a laugh.

In the Chinese version of the song, “The More We Get Together”, featured in Chapter 2 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“, you can see two expressions for laughing heartily , 笑哈哈 (xiàohāhā ) and 笑嘻嘻 (xiàoxīxī). Instead of doing “haha” or “hehe” some people giggle or chortle:

她们咯咯笑不停.
Tāmengēgēxiào bùtíng.
They giggled nonstop.

Children often laugh in a silly way. (hān) means innocent or naive. 憨笑 (hānxiào) is to smile or laugh in a childish way. (shǎ) means foolish. 傻笑 (shǎxiào) is to laugh foolishly or to issue an awkard laugh when don’t know what else to do. (chī ) means silly or insane; and 痴笑 (chī xiào) is to giggle foolishly.

大笑 (dà xiào) is to laugh out loud. 狂笑 (kuángxiào) or 哄笑 (hōngxiào) means to guffaw. 哄然大笑 (hōngrán dà xiào) is an expressioon commonly used for describing the boisterous, uproarious laughing of a crowd.

苦笑 (kǔxiào) is to make a forced smile.

他没办法说服她, 只好苦笑了一下.
Tā méi bànfǎ shuōfú tā, zhǐhǎo kǔxiào le yīxià.
As he was unable to convince her, he forced a smile.

惨笑 (cǎnxiào) means to smile in a sad and miserable way, such as when one realizes that everything has been lost.

谄笑 (chǎnxiào) is to smile in an ingratiating way. Have you ever had to do so? 赔笑 (péixiào) is to smile obsequiously or apologetically. A few years ago I saw a Chinese restaurant owner bow and smile apologetically when a customer complained about the food..

冷笑 (lěngxiào) is to laugh grimly or to grin with dissatisfaction, helplessness, or bitterness. It sounds like “ (hng humph)!”.

干笑 (gānxiào) is to cackle, as a witch might do.

奸笑 (jiānxiào) is to smile or laugh like a villain in a sinister way. A villain might also 獰笑 (níngxiào), or grin hideously.

There are also many ways to laugh at other people:

暗笑 (ànxiào) and 窃笑 (qièxiào) both mean to laugh in one’s sleeve or to snicker.

调笑 (tiáoxiào) is to poke fun at someone.

讥笑 (jīxiào) and 嘲笑 (cháoxiào) are synonyms that mean to ridicule, jeer, sneer at, or laugh sarcastically. 耻笑 (chǐxiào) is to ridicule, sneer at, or mock someone to shame him or her.

不要嘲笑别人的弱点.
Bùyào cháoxiào biérén de ruòdiǎn
Don’t laugh at other people’s foibles.

By pairing (xiào) with an appropriate adverb or adverbial phrase, as shown in the very first sample sentence, you could come up with many more expressions that describe different ways to laugh.

I think laughter is the best gift you can give to anyone. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, say or do somthing to put a happy smile on your parent’s face.

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

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