Chinese word for gifts or presents

Christmas Present 圣诞礼物

Christmas Present 圣诞礼物

圣诞快乐!
Shèngdàn kuàilè﹗
Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time for sharing, giving and charity. The Chinese word for presents is 礼物 (lǐwù). (wù) are things or substances. (lǐ) is used in a number of words that cover a range of meanings – ceremonies, rites, courtesy, manners and etiquette, gifts and presents.

典礼 (diǎnlǐ) is a ceremony or a celebration. 礼堂 (lǐtáng) is a place where such rites or ceremonies are carried out, e.g. an assembly hall or an auditorium.

物品 (wùpǐn) are articles or goods. Therefore, items offered at a ceremony, for a celebration, or for courtesy, are called 礼品 (lǐpǐn). 礼品 (lǐpǐn) and 礼物 (lǐwù) both refer to gifts and presents. Customarily, you would use 礼物 (lǐwù) when talking about a gift or a present that you give or receive. You would use the more formal word, 礼品 (lǐpǐn), when referring to the gift items in a general sense.

我送给苏珊一盒巧克力糖, 作为圣诞礼物.
Wǒ sòng gěi Sūshān yī hé qiǎokèlì táng, zuòwéi shèngdàn lǐwù.
I gave Susan a box of chocolates as Christmas present.

送礼 (sònglǐ) means to present a gift to someone. 回礼 (huílǐ) and 还礼 (huánlǐ) mean to give a gift in return. As 行礼 (xínglǐ) and 敬礼 (jìnglǐ) mean to formally salute someone, 回礼 (huílǐ) can also mean to return a salute.

婚礼 (hūnlǐ weddings) and 葬礼 (zànglǐ funerals) are the ceremonies one will likely have the occasion to attend a few times in life. For the former, monetary gifts are to be enclosed in red envelopes, while for the latter, white envelopes are normally used.

礼拜 (lǐbài) is a religious service or worship. 做礼拜 (zuòlǐbài) means worshiping at a church, which is called a 礼拜堂 (lǐbàitáng) or a 教堂 (jiàotáng). The days of the week are often referred to as the days of worship. For example, 礼拜六 (lǐbàiliù) means the same as 星期六 (xīngqīliù), which is Saturday (the sixth day of worship).

洗礼 (xǐlǐ) means baptism. It also refers to a severe test (of one’s character, ability, etc.).

We’ve previously come across the word 礼貌 (lǐmào politeness or manners). 有礼貌 (yǒu lǐmào) means polite and courteous. 没有礼貌 (méiyǒu lǐmào) means impolite or rude. The formal word for being ill-mannered is 无礼 (wúlǐ), which is not to be confused with 无理 (wúlǐ unreasonable, unjustifiable).

那位服务员没有礼貌.
Nèi wèi fúwùyuán méiyǒu lǐmào.
That waiter has no manners.

非礼 (fēilǐ) means showing disrespect.

赔礼 (péilǐ) is to offer an apology. It means the same as 道歉 (dàoqiàn). If your kid has offended Mr. Wang, you could say:

快去向王先生道歉!
Kuài qù xiàng Wáng xiānsheng dàoqiàn!
Go apologize to Mr. Wang right now!

子曰: 衣食足而后知礼义.
Zǐ yuē: Yī shí zú érhòu zhī lǐ yì.
Confucius said, “Only after one is fed and clothed can one be expected to observe propriety and justice.”

Here, (Zǐ) refers to 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ Confucius), and (yuē) is the classical word for “to say”.

(yī) are clothings and (shí) are foods.
(zú) means to have a sufficient amount of something.
而后 (érhòu) means after that, or then.
(zhī) means to know or to be aware of.
(yì) means justice or righteousness.

Confucius served as an adviser to a number of rulers in his time. Much of what he said thousands of years ago still rings true today.

Sing “I am a Cloud” in Chinese

Cirrocumulus Clouds (Mackerel Clouds)

Cirrocumulus Clouds (Mackerel Clouds)

The traditional Chinese character for clouds is (yún). Like (diàn electricity), it lost the “rain” radical in the conversion to the Simplified Chinese character set.

In classical Chinese (yún) means to say or to state. In the Simplified Chinese character system, it means clouds.

The clouds, suspended in the sky or moving freely above, out of reach, ephemeral and unfathomable, is often compared to the transitory nature of certain human affairs. It also represents freedom and a carefree state of mind. The term 风云人物 (fēngyúnrénwù man of the day) likens prominent personages that command people’s attention to the powerful movement of vigorous winds and clouds.

(xiāo) means clouds or the sky. Therefore, 云霄 (yúnxiāo) refers to the skies. 九霄云外 (jiǔxiāoyúnwài) means beyond the highest heavens or skies.

有你在身边, 我把一切烦恼抛到了九霄云外.
Yǒu nǐ zài shēnbiān, wǒ bǎ yīqiè fánnǎo pāo dào le jiǔxiāoyúnwài.
With you by my side, I cast all my worries to outer space.

戒心 (jièxīn) means vigilance. Therefore 把戒心抛到九霄云外 (bǎ jièxīn pāo dào jiǔxiāoyúnwài) means to throw caution to the winds.

烟消云散 (yānxiāoyúnsàn) means to vanish into thin air. You could use this phrase to describe an interest or desire, the memory of a certain event, or the disintegration of an entity.

The phrase 过眼云烟 (guòyǎnyúnyān) likens worldly possessions, such as riches and fame, to transitory clouds and smokes.

我们的那段情不过是过眼云烟..
Wǒmén de nèi duàn qíng bùguò shì guòyǎnyúnyān.
That love affair of ours was nothing but a passing waft of smoke.

天有不测风云 (tiānyǒubùcèfēngyún) means something unexpected may suddenly happen just like a storm may abruptly arise out of nowhere. This line is paired with 人有旦夕祸福 (rényǒudànxīhuòfú), which means that one may find good fortune or go to ruins overnight. When you hear of a misfortune befalling a movie star or an acquaintance, you would shake your head and say:

天有不测风云, 人有旦夕祸福.
Tiānyǒubùcèfēngyún, rényǒudànxīhuòfú.

All right, here is a popular song, titled 我是一片云 (Wǒ shì yī piàn yún I am a Cloud), sung by 凤飞飞 (Fèng Fēifēi). This short song expresses in simple wording a common sentiment. Don’t we all wish to be as carefree as a cloud?

The lyrics in Simplified Chinese can be found here.

(zhāo) is the classical word for morning or day. (mù) is the classical word for evenings or sunset. We’ve come across these words in the phrase 朝朝暮暮 (zhāozhāomùmù day and night, or all the time).

If you remember from one of our early lessons, (shēng) means to go up or to elevate.

自在 (zìzai) means at ease and being comfortable with oneself. 潇洒 (xiāosǎ) means carefree and unrestrained, like a splash of water.

我的男朋友英俊又潇洒.
Wǒ de nánpéngyǒu yīngjùn yòu xiāosǎ.
My boyfriend is handsome and cool.

(shēn) is the abbreviation of 身体 (shēntǐ body or health). In this song, this word refers to the body.
(suí) means to follow.
(hún) is the soul or the spirit.
(mèng) are dreams.
(fēi) means to fly.
无牵挂 (wú qiānguà) means without worry or care.

You might also be interested in watching a couple other related videos. In this one, the singer dedicates the song to a fan. In the introductory remark, the singer told her fan that although her album may have given the latter the courage to continue with life, it was the doctor’s skills that saved the fan’s life. The tears in the singer’s eyes reveal genuine feelings from the heart. At the end of the performance the singer encourages her fan to continue to be courageous and strong – 继续勇敢坚强. (Jìxù yǒnggǎn jiānqiáng.)

The video at this link shows a number of the singer’s fans singing this song together. Why not join in the fun?

Learn Chinese word radical – Rain

Snow 雪 (xuě)

Snow 雪 (xuě)

We have discussed the Chinese character for rain, (yǔ), a few times before. This character, featuring four drops of water, also serves as a word radical that is employed in words involving precipitation or moisture in the air. As you know, one advantage of being able to recognizing a word radical is that you will only need to learn the remaining part in a new word.

As with many other natural elements, the words containing the rain radical are often used in phrases associated with human nature.

We will start with a simple character, (xuě snow).

你会滑雪吗?
Nǐ huì huáxuě ma?
Do you know how to ski?

(xuě) is also used as a verb in the idiom 报仇雪耻 (bàochóuxuěchǐ), which means to take revenge and wipe out a humiliation.

(tàn) is charcoal. (sòng) means to give or to deliver. The idiom 雪中送炭 (xuězhōngsòngtàn providing charcoal in snowy weather) means to offer needed help and be “a friend indeed”.

(shuāng) is frost. 雪上加霜 (xuěshàngjiāshuāng), means to have frost added on top of snow, to have one disaster after another, or to add insult to injury.

(bīng) is ice. 冰雹 (bīngbáo) are hailstones. Some one who is really aloof might be described as being icy. The following comment is often bestowed on strikingly beautiful women who give their admirers the cold shoulder.

艳若桃李, 冷若冰霜.
Yàn ruò táo lǐ, lěng ruò bīng shuāng.
Gorgeous as peach and plum blossoms, but cold as ice and frost.

(léi) is thunder, which often strikes a field when it rains. 地雷 (dìléi) are land mines.

雷声大,雨点小. (léishēngdà,yǔdiǎnxiǎo) literally translates to “loud thunder but tiny raindrops”. This idiom implies that much is proclaimed but followed by little action.

暴跳如雷 (bàotiàorúléi) and 大发雷霆 (dàfāléitíng) both mean flying into a rage.

他听了这话, 暴跳如雷.
Tā tīng le zhè huà, bàotiàorúléi.
After hearing these words, he flew off the handle.

如雷贯耳 (rúléiguàněr) literally translates to “like thunder piercing the ears”, but this idiom is used for complimenting a person on his or her colossal reputation, implying that everyone is praising that person and the clamor fills the ear like thunder.

(lù) as a noun means dew. 雨露 (yǔlù rain and dew) often refers to grace and bounty.

(ní) is the secondary rainbow. What is the primary raindow called in Chinese?

We learned before that 晚霞 (wǎnxiá) is the evening glow at sunset.

(zhèn) means to shake or shock, or to be greatly shocked, as in 震惊 (zhènjīng). 地震 (dìzhèn) is an earthquake.

他听了这消息, 十分震惊.
Tā tīng le zhè xiāoxi, shífēn zhènjīng.
He was shocked to hear this piece of news.

(méi) is mildew. 发霉 (fāméi) is to become moldy.
倒霉 (dǎoméi), on the other hand, means to have bad luck.

今天又碰到他. 倒霉!
Jīntiān yòu pèng dào tā. Dǎoméi!
I ran into him again today. Just my luck!

The proper word for “tough luck” is 倒楣 (dǎoméi). However, 倒霉 (dǎoméi) has been so widely used that it has won legitimacy. Either way you write it, it’s not a happy word.

下雪天, 走路开车都要当心.
Xià xuě tiān, zǒulù kāichē dōu yào dāngxīn,
In snowy weather, walk and drive carefully.

For a short discussion of other weather conditions please see Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

The Monkey King in Chinese

Talking about (wù enlightenment) reminds me of a character in a major Chinese novel written during the Ming Dynasty. This book is titled “西游记 (Xīyóujì), often translated as “Journey to the West”. The general plot of this fantasy novel is not unlike that of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, involving a journey on which the main character is aided by a number of other characters. However, “西游记 (Xīyóujì), 100 chapters long, features many more varied characters, mystical creatures, demons and seemingly endless episodes.

The principal character in “西游记 (Xīyóujì) is a monk, and the objective of his journey is to acquire sacred texts of Buddhism from 印度 (yìndù India). You can find a well written summary at this link.

Each of the main characters in the novel serves to illustrate a certain set of human characteristics. Let’s see if we can use some of the adjectives listed in Chapter 8 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to describe the personalities of these characters.

The monk, 唐三藏 (Táng Sānzàng), is dedicated to his cause. He is idealistic and benevolent, but his defenselessness and impracticality are often taken advantage of by the team’s adversaries.

唐三藏心地善良, 但是无能.
Táng Sānzàng xīndì shànliáng, dànshì wúnéng.
Tang Sanzang is of a kindhearted nature, but incompetent.

The most capable and the most interesting of the monk’s three disciples is a mystical monkey born out of a rock. He becomes the Monkey King, 猴王 (hóu wáng), and receives training from a mentor, who gives him the name 悟空 (Wùkōng). As the word (sūn) also means monkeys, the author humorously assigned to this monkey the common Chinese surname (sūn grandson). At this link is a section of cartoon with helpful English subtitles that describes the early days in the life of the Monkey King. See if you can catch a few Chinese words here and there.

If you would like to see in animation how 孙悟空 (Sūn Wùkōng) meets up with the monk, you could watch the following two videos in English. (Video 1, Video 2) In these videos, Sun Wukong is referred to as Goku because this is how 悟空 (Wùkōng) is pronounced in Japanese

With a name like 悟空 (Wùkōng), which means being enlightened to the nothingness of life, Sun Wukong is, however, anything but. He has to get involved in any and everything, jumping at every opportunity to utilize his prowess to right the wrongs.

孙悟空聪明, 能干, 勇敢, 但是时常冲动.
Sūn Wùkōng cōngmíng, nénggàn, yǒnggǎn, dànshì shícháng chōngdòng.
Sun Wukong is clever, capable and brave, but often acts impulsively.

他是许多男孩儿心中的英雄.
Tā shì xǔduō nánháir xīn zhòng de yīngxióng.
He is the hero in the heart of many young boys.

One cannot help but chuckle when thinking about the second disciple who takes on the form of a hog. This 猪八戒 (Zhū Bājiè) represents many human faults – avarice, laziness and sensualism, which are counterbalanced by his amicable personality, straightforwardness and extraordinary physical strength.

猪八戒懒惰, 好吃, 但是强壮, 热情.
Zhū Bājiè lǎnduò, hàochī, dànshì qiángzhuàng, rèqíng.
Zhu Bajie is lazy and gluttonous, but strong and affectionate.

沙和尚 (Shā Héshàng) is kind of an average guy. He obeys the rules, does his duty with an even temper and takes a down-to-earth approach to solving problems. Being thus not an exciting character, he only gets a small part in the novel.

沙和尚正直, 忠实, 任劳任怨.
Shā Héshàng zhèngzhí, zhōngshí, rènláorènyuàn.
Friar Sand is upright, loyal, works hard and puts up with chiding and criticism.

The idiom, 任劳任怨 (rènláorènyuàn), could be translated as “being willing to put one’s nose to the grindstone”.

In reality, each one of us probably has some of the above-mentioned personality traits. Hopefully our strengths will compensate for our weaknesses and help us eventually achieve our individual goals.

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