Sing Moonlight on the Colorado in Chinese

The cooler weather of late autumn can put one in a pensive mood. A song comes to mind that aptly expresses the feeling of nostalgic longing. The music for “Moonlight on the Colorado”, composed by Robert A. King, interlaces perfectly with the lyrics written by Billy Moll. Fortunately for us, there is available a wonderful Chinese translation of the lyrics by 文杰 (Wén Jié).

You can hear a performance of the Chinese version, 科罗拉多美丽的夜晚 (Kēluólāduō Měilì de Yèwǎn Beautiful Night on the Colorado), by clicking this link.

Click here to see the lyrics in Simplified Chinese Characters.

Even though in the Chinese version, the river has turned into a lake and the lovers are presented as close friends, the translator has captured the spirit of this song and preserved the beautiful sentiments. As far as we are concerned here, the lyrics provide a few additional examples for adjective phrases discussed in Chapter 10 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“. You might also want to review the usage of adjectives and adverbs in the blog posted on 8/17/11 at this site.

清风 (qīngfēng) is a refreshing breeze. (fēng) is the noun and (qīng) is short for the adjective 清凉的( qīngliáng de).

In 湖边的垂柳 (hú biān de chuíliǔ), 湖边的 (hú biān de by the lakeside) modifies the noun 垂柳 (chuíliǔ), or weeping willow.

远方的友人 (yuǎnfāng de yǒurén) is a friend who is far away. 友人 (yǒurén), like 朋友 (péngyǒu), means friend or friends.

In 天边的明月 (tiānbiān de míng yuè), 天边的 (tiānbiān de on the horizon) is the adjective that modifies 明月 (míng yuè bright moon).

故乡 (gùxiāng) is one’s hometown. 美丽的故乡 (měilì de gùxiāng) means beautiful hometown, and 美丽的夜晚 (měilì de yèwǎn) means beautiful night.

悠扬的旋律 (yōuyáng de xuánlǜ) means tuneful melody.

吹动 (chuī dòng) means to move or arouse something by blowing at it.

健康 (jiànkāng) pertains to physical health, while 康健 (kāngjiàn) refers to general well-being.

默默地思念 (mòmò di sīniàn) means to long for quietly.

对我细语 (duì wǒ xì yù) means to speak to me softly. Notice the same pattern used in 对我诉说 (duì wǒ sùshuō to recount to me).

对著湖心 (duì zhe hú xīn) means facing the (center of the) lake.

平安 (shìfǒu píngān) means safe and sound.

归来 (guī lái) means the same as 回来 (huílái to come back). 回到我身边 (huí dào wǒ shēnbiān) means to come back to my side.

眨著双眼 (zhǎ zhe shuāng yǎn) means to wink (both eyes).

紧扣心弦 (jǐn kòu xīnxián) is to pluck intensely at the heartstrings.

With the help of the above list of words, you should be able to decipher the entire song. (After all, learning a new language is not unlike cracking a set of codes.) Hopefully you will sing this song so often that you will have soon learned it by heart. And if you are inclined to sing it against a guitar accompaniment, here is a link to one.

How to give thanks in Chinese?

For those of us who are robust and healthy, let us give thanks and rejoice. For those of us who are not so well, let us be grateful that we can still survive with medical help and self-help. Whether we are strong or weak, smart or not so smart, handsome or homely, each of us has his or her own blessings. As the Chinese say, each blade of grass receives a drop of dew. For this, we are thankful.

一枝草, 一点露.
Yī zhī cǎo, yī diǎn lù.

Following are a few ways to express gratitude in Chinese:

Xièxiè nǐ.
Thank you.

Duōxiè nǐ de bāngzhù.
Thanks for your help.

Wǒmén fēicháng gǎnxiè nín de zhāodài.
We are very thankful for your hospitality.

为了这个缘故, 我很感激他.
Wèile zhègè yuángù, wǒ hěn gǎnjī tā.
For this reason, I am grateful to him.

谢天谢地, 她的病已经好了.
Xiètiānxièdì, tā de bìng yǐjīng hǎo le.
Thank heavens, she has already recovered from the illness.

To respond to someone’s appreciation of your kindness or assistance, simply say 不谢. (bùxiè You’re welcome.) or 不用谢. (bùyòngxiè Don’t mention it.)

When you are greatly indebted to someone, you will regard that person as your benefactor, or 恩人 (ēnrén). The kindness or favor rendered is called 恩惠 (ēnhuì favor or benefaction) or 恩德 (ēndé kindness or grace). 感恩 (gǎnēn Thanksigiving) is the concatenation of 感谢 (gǎnxiè) and 恩德 (ēndé).

On the other hand, hatred is called 仇恨 (chóuhèn), and the person who did you wrong is called 仇人 (chóurén a personal foe).

报答 (bàodá) is to repay a favor, while 报恩 (bàoēn) is to requite a life-saving favor. 报仇 (bàochóu) is to take revenge.

Normally, one would repay kindness with the same. However, it’s not unheard of that kindness is sometimes paid back with hostility. This is called 恩将仇报 (ēnjiāngchóubào).

There are also people who treat their enemies with kindness. This is called 以德报怨 (yǐdébàoyuàn).

“The Count of Monte Cristo”, a novel written by Alexandre Dumas, tells the story of a man who was wrongly imprisoned and who took revenge big time after escaping from the prison. The fortune he had accidentally acquired allowed him to indulge in 以牙还牙 (yǐyáhuányá A tooth for a tooth.). Yet, in the end, it was only through mercy and forgiveness that he was able to find peace for his soul. The name of this book in Chinese is 基度山伯爵恩仇记 (Jīdùshān Bójuéjì Ēn Chóu Jì).

Let’s think of everyone who loves us, everyone we love and everything we enjoy, and be thankful.

Gǎnēn jié kuàilè!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Learn Chinese word radical – Jade

Adorn the king with a large tear-drop-shaped precious stone, and one gets the character for jade, or (yù). The jade symbolizes purity, preciousness, nobility and beauty. This is why it is used in polite written language to represent the word “your”. For example, when writing to one’s grandfather or grandmother, one would often end the letter with:

Jìng zhù yù tǐ ānkāng
Respectfully wishing the best for your health

In fact, to show respect to the reader, the words “I” and “you” are seldom used in a formal or polite Chinese letter; and one has to find ways to rephrase the sentences to get the ideas across without ambiguity.

(zhuān) are bricks, which are common and humble, and quite the opposite of the jade. The Chinese idiom 抛砖引玉 (pāozhuānyǐnyù Cast a brick to attract jade.) was based on a story in which a mediocre poet succeeded in eliciting superb verses from a famous poet by starting a piece of work and letting the latter complete it. Click here for an animated version of this story. So, go ahead and offer your ideas in a brain-storming session. Even if they are not the greatest, they might inspire the group to come up with a valuable solution.

When (yù jade) is incorporated into a Chinese character as a word radical, the last little stroke is dropped, so that it looks like a “king”, except that the bottom stroke is slightly tilted up. But now you know that it is actually a “jade”. Following are a few examples.

(zhēn) is a treasure. It also means precious, highly valued, or rare. Both this character and the (yù) character are favorite choices for naming babies, particularly girls.

珍惜 (zhēnxī) is to cherish or treasure something.

Wǒ zhēnxī zhè fèn yǒuqíng.
I cherish this friendship.

珍贵 (zhēnguì) means precious.

Wǒ zhēnxī zhè fèn zhēnguì de yǒuqíng.
I cherish this precious friendship.

袖珍 (xiùzhēn) means pocket-sized, such as in 袖珍字典 (xiùzhēn zìdiǎn pocket dictionary).

(zhū) are beads. It is also the abbreviation for 珍珠 (zhēnzhū pearls). 掌上明珠 (zhǎngshàngmíngzhū) is literally a shiny pearl in one’s palm. This term refers to one’s precious daughter.

泪珠 (lèizhū) are teardrops. 汗珠 (hàn zhū) are drops of sweat.

A number of other jewelry items, or 珠宝 (zhūbǎo), also feature the “jade” radical.

珊瑚 (shānhú) means coral or items made from coral. 玛瑙 (mǎnǎo) is agate. (huán) is a ring, a hoop, or a link in a chain. 耳环 (ěrhuán) are earrings. (huán) also means to encircle or to be surrounded by mountains, such as in 环境 (huánjìng surroundings, circumstances). 污染环境 (wūrǎn huánjìng) means to pollute the environment.

玻璃 (bōli) is glass. A glass tumbler is called 玻璃杯 (bōli bēi). Nylon stockings are called 玻璃丝袜 (bōli sī wà), or 丝袜 (sī wà nylons) for short.

(qiú) refers to any spherical object. 地球 (dìqiú) is the earth. The eyeballs are called 眼球 (yǎnqiú) or 眼珠 (yǎnzhū). 有眼无珠 (yǒuyǎnwúzhū with eyes but without eyeballs) is an interesting expression that means lacking perception, failing to discern an essential point, or failing to see an obvious quality or capability in a person you know.

(wán) is to play or to amuse oneself. 好玩 (hǎowán) means interesting or great fun.

Tā xǐhuān wán lánqiú.
He likes to play basketball.

If any of your friends is getting married soon, you might present the new couple with a card bearing these congratulatory words:

Jīnyù Liáng Yuán
Gold and jade, a perfect match.

(liáng) is the formal word for “good”, “fine”, or “a good deal of”. (yuán) has a number of different meanings. It could refer to the edge or fringe of an object, the reason that causes something to happen, or a predestined relationship, which applies in this case.

Learn Chinese word radical – King

You know that (tǔ) means soil or land. Add a horizontal stroke at the top, and you’d get the character for one who rules and oversees everything on the land, namely (wáng a king or an emperor). Specifically, 国王 (guówáng) is the king of a country, and 王国 (wángguó kingdom) is the country reigned by a king. If the monarch is a despot or a tyrant, we call him a 霸王 (bàwáng).

The word (jūn) refers to a gentleman or a monarch. If a monarch is inane or self-indulgent, he would be spoken of as a 昏君 (hūnjūn). One such foolish emperor is featured in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, or 國王的新衣 (Guówáng De Xīn Yī). Click on this link if you would like to listen to this story in Chinese.

王朝 (wángcháo) is the royal court or a dynasty. For example, 清朝 (Qīng Cháo) is the Qing Dynasty.

大王 (dàwáng) can refer to a king or to a magnate. So, if you are an oil magnate, people will refer to you as 石油大王 (shíyóu dàwáng). And if you tend to be gluttonous, your family and friends may dub you 贪吃大王 (tān chī dàwáng). You might laugh it off and explain it away with:

我是大卫王 .
Wǒ shì Dàwèi Wáng.
I’m King David.

大卫王 (Dàwèi Wáng King David) sounds exactly the same as the playful term 大胃王 (dà wèi wáng a king with a large stomach).

皇宫 (huánggōng) is the royal palace. 王冠 (wángguān) is the royal crown. 皇帝 (huángdì) is the emperor and 皇后 (huánghòu) is the empress. 王子 (wángzǐ) is the prince and 公主 (gōngzhǔ) is the princess. Royalty is not limited to the human race. The queen bee is referred to as 蜂王 (fēngwáng), and the durian is referred to as the king of fruits, or 果王 (guǒ wáng). And there is also the 王牌 (wángpái), which is the trump card.

(wáng) is a common Chinese surname. Mr. Wang, or 王先生 (Wáng xiānsheng), would be the Chinese equivalent of Mr. King. Nevertheless, when we translate “Mr. King” into Chinese, we would use the transliteration of 金先生 (Jīn xiānsheng). Speaking of Chinese names, you can find some interesting notes on Chinese surnames at the Vacant Mountain blog site.

Let the king put on his crown, and he becomes the master indeed. (zhǔ) is the main and primary person or thing. 主人 (zhǔrén) is the master, the owner or the host. 主持人 (zhǔchírén) is the master of ceremony or a toastmaster. 民主政治 (mínzhǔzhèngzhì) means democracy.

主义 (zhǔyì) is a doctrine. The transliteration of chauvinism is 沙文主义 (shāwénzhǔyì).

(quán) means complete, total or whole and intact. 安全 (ānquán) means safe and sound, and 全部 (quánbù) means all or completely.

Tā shuō de huà wǒ quánbù tīngjiàn le.
I heard everything that he said.

(wàng) means to look at, to look over something or to look into the distance. 看望 (kànwang) is to call on someone. 期望 (qíwàng) is to hope for something, and 绝望 (juéwàng) is to despair. When you wish to purchase a binocular or a telescope, ask for a 望远镜 (wàngyuǎnjìng).

If you were asked to list four Chinese characters that sound the same except for their tones, the following group has the added bonus of having the king radical in all the characters.


(wāng) is an accumulation of liquid. It is also a Chinese surname.

(wǎng) means to treat someone unjustly, to wrong someone or to do something in vain.

Zhèngfǔ yuānwǎng le tā.
The government wronged him.

(wàng) means to be prosperous and booming.

Zhè jiā diàn shēngyi xīngwàng.
This store has booming business.

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