Teamwork in Chinese (2)

There was once a monk who lived by himself in the mountains. Each day he had to walk a distance to a creek, fill a large wooden tub with water and carry it back to use as drinking water. Years later, another monk came to join him at the small temple. Everyday the two monks would each hold one side of the handle of the large tub to carry water back from the creek. The first monk was glad to have someone share the heavy load. Then came a third monk to join them, and a problem arose: Each monk counted on the other two to do the chore. Hence the following Chinese saying:

一个和尚提水喝.
Yī gè héshàng tí shuǐ hē.
One monk will carry the water by himself for drinking.

两个和尚抬水喝.
Liǎng gè héshàng tái shuǐ hē.
Two monks will carry the water together for drinking.

三个和尚没水喝.
Sān gè héshàng méi shuǐ hē.
With three monks there will be no water to drink.

和尚 (héshàng) is a Buddhist monk, usually with shaven head and wearing a long robe.

(tí) is to carry something, such as luggage, with the arm down. (tái) is to lift something up, or having two people carry something together. (méi) is the abbreviation of 没有 (méiyǒu have not, be without).

Appareantly, the three monks had not thought of taking turns in doing their share of the work.

我们轮流值班.
Wǒmén lúnliu zhíbān.
We take turns in being on duty.

A team needs responsible and reliable members who are willing to help oneanother and work together to resolve issues.

负责 (fùzé) means to be responsible for or to be in charge of. Please note that 负责人 (fùzérén) refers to the person in charge, while 负责的人 (fùzé de rén) describes a conscientious person.

(kào) means to lean on. Therefore, 可靠 (kěkào) means dependable, reliable, or trustworthy. 可靠性 (kěkàoxìng) is dependability or reliability.

这个人不可靠.
Zhègè rén bù kěkào.
This person is not trustworthy.

互相帮助 (hùxiāng bāngzhù) is to help each other out, and 互相容忍 (hùxiāng róngrěn) is to tolerate or to put up with each other.

和谐 (héxié) means harmonious, and 相处 (xiāngchǔ) means to get along with each other. Therefore, 和谐相处 (héxié xiāngchǔ) means to get along harmoniously.

The adverb “together” has several Chinese equivalents, with slightly different nuances in meaning.
一同 (yītóng) applies to doing the same things together at the same time and place.
一齐 (yīqí) applies to doing things together at the same time or in unison.
一起 (yīqǐ) applies to doing things together in the same place.
一道 (yīdào) applies to doing things together alongside each other.

我们一同把问题解决了.
Wǒmén yītóng bǎ wèntí jiějué le.
We resolved the issue together.

好极了!
Hǎo jíle!
Bravo!

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Teamwork in Chinese (1)

Each of us has certain knowledge, abilities, talents and/or skills, which can help us perform various tasks or achieve excellence in certain fields. On the other hand, many jobs, projects and activities require a number of different talents and manpower to accomplish. Obviously, when we work in an organization, we contribute our efforts to a team and do our best to cooperate with the other team members. Even within a family, each of us plays a distinct role and we work together for the well-being of everyone in the family.

合作 (hézuò) means to cooperate or to collaborate.

我们合作得很好.
Wǒmén hézuò de hěnhǎo.
We work well together.

合力 (hélì) is to join forces or pool efforts. 同心合力 (tóngxīnhélì) is an idiom that means to join efforts to achieve a common goal. The following sentence refers to a Chinese children’s song titled 拔萝卜 (Bá Luóbo).

他们同心合力, 终于拔起了大萝卜.
Tāmen tóngxīnhélì, zhōngyú bá qǐ le dà luóbo.
They joined efforts and finally pulled out the huge radish.

志同道合 (zhìtóngdàohé) describes two or more people who share the same ideals and have a common goal. Sometimes this phrase is used in jest. So, when you find out that Jack also likes to go out for a drink or two after work, you could say:

我們志同道合.
Wǒmén zhìtóngdàohé.
We have the same aspirations and follow the same path.

In a team the job assignments and work schedules of the members need to be well coordinated. In this context, 配合 (pèihé) means to coordinate or to cooperate. 工作 (gōngzuò) means work or job. 时间 (shíjiān) is time.

他愿意配合我的工作时间.
Tā yuànyì pèihé wǒde gōngzuò shíjiān.
He is willing to accommodate my work hours.

合伙 (héhuǒ) is to form a partnership. Often that involves pooling capital, or 合股 (hégǔ). Here, (gǔ) refers to a share in a company.

A team is called 团队 (tuánduì). Therefore, teamwork can be translated as 团队合作 (tuánduì hézuò cooporation within a team) or 团队工作 (tuánduì gōngzuò work performed in a team). In a team, the members unite for a common goal.

团结 (tuánjié) is to unite or to rally. 一致 (yīzhì) means identical, unanimous, or consistent.

大家团结一致! (Dàjiā tuánjié yīzhì! Let’s stick together!)” is a commonly used slogan. Following is another one:

团结就是力量.
Tuánjiéjiùshìlìliàng.
Unity is strength.

合唱 (héchàng) is to sing together, and 合唱团 (héchàngtuán) is a chorus. A relative recently sent me a link to the Flash Mob Chorus Taipei 101. Of the four songs performed, we have previously discussed two at this blog site. To review the Chinese words used in those two songs, please click on 茉莉花 and 高山青. And if you say that one of the songs is not in Mandarin Chinese, you are correct. The third song is a Taiwanese song, sung in the Taiwanese dialect.

Learn a classical Chinese poem

Whether your interests are in learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, backpacking or cooking, you are probably constantly challenging yourself to get better at it. You will usually need to make some effort in order to see an improvement. The Chinese adage “欲穷千里目, 更上一层楼. (Yù qióng qiānlǐ mù, gèng shàng yī céng lóu.)” advises that to get a better view, one should climb to a higher level. In other words, it encourages people to go the extra mile to get what they wish to achieve.

(lóu) is a level or story of a building or tower. 上楼 (shànglóu) means to go upstairs. In the above saying, the level of a tower is employed metaphorically to represent a superior state. In fact, 更上一层楼 (gèngshàngyīcénglóu) has become an idiom that means to take it up a notch, to make an improvement, or to attain a higher level.

This often quoted saying is actually the second half of a short classical Chinese poem written by 王之涣 (Wáng Zhīhuàn) of the Tang Dynasty. The poet received the inspiration for the poem while enjoying the grand view from a well known tower named 鹳雀楼 (Guàn Què Lóu). The Chinese word for a poem is (shī). You can see from this piece how it is often necessary to rearrange the words in a poem to fit them to a particular line length, cadence and rhyming scheme. Therefore, a peom may sound quite different from normal speech, and thus a little harder to interpret. For the blog posts at this site and in the book “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“, I’ve taken care to select mostly songs and rhymes with verses that more or less follow the normal word order in everyday speech. Nevertheless, even a beginner could enjoy a little exposure to the beauty of some excellent classical Chinese poems.

登鹳雀楼 (Dēng Guàn Què Lóu Scaling the Guanque Tower)

白日依山尽,
Bái rì yī shān jìn,
Sunlight stops at the mountain peak;

黄河入海流.
Huánghé rù hǎi liú.
The River ends at the sea.

欲穷千里目,
Yù qióng qiānlǐ mù,
Why not set your eyesight free?

更上一层楼.
Gèng shàng yī céng lóu.
A hike grants more to see.

(dēng) means to climb, to mount or to ascend, as in 登山 (dēngshān mountaineering). This word also means to enter into a record, such as in 登记 (dēngjì).

The river referred to in this poem is the Yellow River, or 黄河 (Huánghé).

(liú) means to flow. As it describes the motion of a liquid, it takes on the “water” word radical. You might want to review a previous blog post that talks about the water radical.

As a noun, (yù) means desire. In classical Chinese, it means wanting to do something. This word is also means “on the point of”, as in 欣喜欲狂 (xīnxǐ yù kuáng so happy as if one were on the verge of going out of one’s mind).

As an adjective, (qióng) means poor or at the limit of one’s resources. In classical Chinese, this word is also used as a verb that means to do or to explore to the full extent.

(mù) is the formal Chinese word for eyes. It is a part of many other words pertaining to eyes or eyesight.

This poem follows the standard form of a Chinese poem containing five characters per line. Notice the perfect parllelism in each of the two pairs of verses. For example, 白日 (bái rì white sun) matches 黄河 (Huánghé Yellow River). 依山 (yī shān by the mountain) and 入海 (rù hǎi into the sea) are adverbial phrases, and (jìn to end) and (liú to flow) are both verbs. The rhyming scheme employed is ABCB. Next time you come across another classical Chinese poem, try to analyze and appreciate the care and thoughts put into the verses by the poets.

Chinese word for pain or hardship

The bitter taste is called 苦味 (kǔwèi). Once in a while, you may come across a cucumber that tastes bitter. That’s nothing compared to the profound bitter taste of 苦瓜 (kǔguā bitter gourd). Chinese herb medicine literature cites anti-inflammatory properties of bitter substances, such as bile and bitter gourds, which are sometimes used to bring down fevers.

(kǔ) also means pain or hardship. Therefore, when someone says “好苦啊! (Hǎo kǔ a)”, it could refer to something bitter being ingested, or it could refer to an experience of hardship and suffering.

痛苦 (tòngkǔ) could be physical pain or emotional pain. To make it clear that it is an emotional agony, you could say 心里的痛苦 (xīnli de tòngkǔ).

(kǔ) also means laborious, as in 辛苦 (xīnkǔ toilsome, working hard, taking pains). 差事 (chāishi) is an errand or a task assignment. The mailman is called 邮差 (yóuchāi). A hard and/or unprofitable job or mission is called 苦差 (kǔchāi).

他弄丢了我辛辛苦苦写好的报告.
Tā nòng diū le wǒ xīnxīnkǔkǔ xiě hǎo de bàogào.
He lost the report that I had taken a lot of trouble to write.
(There you go – another Chinese idiom in the AABB format.)

Although both (zhōng) and (xīn) refer to one’s inner feelings, 苦衷 (kǔzhōng) and 苦心 (kǔxīn) have different meanings. 苦衷 (kǔzhōng) means a predicament that one is reluctant to mention, while 苦心 (kǔxīn) means painstaking effort.

我有我的苦衷.
Wǒ yǒu wǒ de kǔzhōng.
I have my difficulties (or reasons that I cannot share with you).

Instead of the above sentence, you could use the expression “有苦难说. (Yǒu kǔ Nánshōu)” to convey the same meaning.

我明白他的苦心.
Wǒ míngbai tā de kǔxīn.
I know very well the trouble he is taking.

苦难 (kǔnàn) is misery or suffering.
苦闷 (kǔmèn) is a feeling of dejection.
苦恼 (kǔnǎo) is feeling vexed or worried.

When you feel miserable, you might frown and show a sad face.

他为什么愁眉苦脸?
Tā wèishénme chóuméikǔliǎn?
Why is he making a sad face?

If you have family or friends, you might pour out your woes to them. This is called 诉苦 (sùkǔ complain or vent). Or, you might just force a grin. A sad, helpless smile is called 苦笑 (kǔxiào).

苦力 (kǔlì) is the original Chinese word for coolies, or unskilled Asian laborers.

吃苦 (chīkǔ) means to endure hardship. 受苦 (shòukǔ) means to suffer hardship or have a rough time.

Can you guess at the meaning of the following Chinese saying?

吃得苦中苦, 方为人上人.
Chī de kǔ zhōng kǔ, fāng wéi rén shàng rén.

Life offers a mixture of joys and sorrows. It is a blessing if you have someone to share your weal and woe. In a previous article we mentioned a few ways of popping the question. The following favorable response incorporates the phrase 同甘共苦 (tónggāngòngkǔ to share weal and woe).

我愿意和你同甘共苦.
Wǒ yuànyì hé nǐ tónggāngòngkǔ.
I want to be with you for better or for worse.

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