Peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year in Chinese

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Away in a Manger”. In Chinese it is usually referred to as 马槽歌 (Mǎ Cáo Gē) or 圣婴孩主耶稣 (Shèng Yīnghái Zhǔ Yēsū).

马槽 (mǎ cáo) is a trough for feeding horses. (gē) is a song.

Baby Jesus is usually referred to as 圣婴 (Shèng Yīng), or the Holy Baby. The song uses 圣婴孩 (Shèng Yīnghái) because there is an extra beat in the music that needs to be filled. 耶稣 (Yēsū) is Jesus. 主耶稣 (Zhǔ Yēsū) is Lord Jesus.

The peaceful nativity scene is captured in the beautiful tune composed by James R. Murray in 1887. At this link is John Denver’s rendition of the song.

If you are into improvising in playing the piano by ear, here are a couple helpful instruction videos by Yoke Wong and Rosa Suen.

To be able to improvise and re-harmonize a song on the piano, one will need to have some knowledge of the “rules” based on which many songs are composed. The better your understanding of the structure of a song, the better you will be able to apply the commonly used scale note intervals, chords and variations thereof to play the song your own way. This is not unlike learning a foreign language. You are better equipped to express yourself in the language when you know the underlying grammar and sentence patterns. This is why I put quite a bit of emphasis on grammar and sentence structure in my book “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Another popular musical setting for “Away in a Manger” is the one by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895). In Book 5 of the Pianoforall piano course, Robin Hall shows you how to play a simple ballad style that you can apply to this version of the song.

To hear it in Chinese, please click on this link: 圣婴孩主耶稣 (Shèng Yīnghái Zhǔ Yēsū)

To see the lyrics in simplified Chinese characters, please click on the link then scroll down to item 15.

天堂 (tiāntáng) is heaven or paradise.

马棚 (mǎ péng) is a horse stall.

(zhěn) or 枕头 (zhěntou) is a pillow, and (chuáng) is a bed.

(wú) means without or nothing.

护卫 (hùwèi) is to protect or to guard. As a noun, this word refers to a bodyguard.

安睡 (ān shuì) is to sleep peacefully.

听见 (tīngjiàn) is to hear. (líng) is a bell.

梦醒 (mèng xǐng) means to wake up from a dream. 啼哭 (tíkū) is to cry or wail. 笑容 (xiàoróng) is a smiling face.

(cǎo) is grass. Here, it refers to the hay, or 干草 (gāncǎo).

(yuàn) is to hope for, wish for or be willing. As a noun, it means a wish. (qiú) is to beg, to beseech or to seek.

靠近 (kàojìn) is to be near or close-by or to get near. 身旁 (páng) means one’s side.

照顾 (zhàogu) is to look after or to give favorable consideration to.

(xì) as a verb means to tie or fasten.

身心 (shēnxīn) means body and mind. 受伤 (shòushāng) means to be hurt or harmed.

(cì) is to give, to grant or to favor someone with something as a superior. 恩惠 (ēnhuì) is a benefaction.

(zhòng) means the many or the multitude. 孩童 (hái tóng) are children.

世上 (shìshang) or 世界上 (shìjièshàng) means “in the world”.

相会 (xiàng huì) is to meet each other or to get together.

It’s been a very pleasant four years since I started blogging at this site to share my knowledge of Chinese and exchange ideas with you. As I’m having to deal with a health issue, I will not be posting any more lessons here in the foreseeable future. I may work on some other projects that are less demanding and do not have a time constraint. There are 210 lessons at this site that you are welcome to revisit anytime. Feel free to post your questions as a comment, and I will try to answer them as best I can. I thank you for your readership and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

恭祝圣诞平安, 新年快乐!
Gōng zhù shèngdàn píngān, xīnnián kuàilè!
Respectfully wishing you a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

P.S. I’ve added a few of my paintings and calligraphy to the “About” page of this blog site. You are welcome to take a look there as well.

11/1/15 I just posted a fun song “Down by the Bay in Chinese” at youtube. Please check it out and see if you can make other funny rhyming verses that the mother in the video might say.

Sing “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago” in Chinese

Tongue-in-cheek

Tongue-in-cheek

There are usually a few different ways to translate an English name to Chinese. Over the years standardized translations have evolved for many well-known names. For example, when I see 林肯 (Línkěn), I know right a way that it most likely refers to President Abraham Lincoln. (It would be interesting, though, for a Chinese guy with the last name Lin to give his son this famous name.)

The folk song “I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago” names a number of prominent figures from the Bible, or 圣经 (shèngjīng). I first came across this song in Jerry Silverman’s “Beginning Folk Guitar”. At this link is Elvis Presley’s spirited version of this song.

Now, Elvis Presley’s Chinese name is a mouthful that I don’t care to mention here. In Taiwan, he is simply known as 猫王 (Máo Wáng King of Cats). By the way, Ann-Margret was dubbed 女猫王 (Nǚ Máo Wáng Queen of Cats).

Anyway, one of the verses of “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago” goes as follows:

Yeah, I was born about ten thousand years ago.
Ain’t nothing in this world that I don’t know.
Saw Peter, Paul and Moses playing ring around the roses.
I’ll lick the guy that says it isn’t so.

Perhaps you will be inspired to sing my translation in Chinese:

我出生在一万年前的时候.
Wǒ chūshēng zài yī wànnián qián de shíhòu.
I was born around ten thousand years ago.

天下没有一件事我不吃透.
Tiānxià méiyǒu yī jiàn shì wǒ bù chītòu.
There isn’t a single thing under the sky that I don’t know.

见过彼得,保罗,摩西,
Jiàn guò Bǐdé, Bbǎoluó, Móxī;
I met Peter, Paul and Moses,

他们一同玩著游戏.
Tāmen yītóng wán zhe yóuxì.
Who were playing games together.

谁敢說不信? 莫非他想挨揍?
Shéi gǎn shuō bù xìn? Mòfēi tā xiǎng áizòu?
Who dares to say he doesn’t believe so,
unless he is asking for a spanking?

出生 (chūshēng) as a verb means to be born. As a noun it refers to the status of the family into which one was born.

他出生卑微.
Tā chūshēng bēiwēi.
He was born petty and low.

吃透 (chītòu)means to have a thorough grasp of something.

The Pharaoh is called 法老 (fǎlǎo). King David is 大卫王 (Dàwèi wáng). Jonah is 约纳 (Yuēnà). And Noah’s Ark is called 诺亚方舟 (Nuòyà fāngzhōu).

莫非 (mòfēi) means the same as 除非 (chúfēi unless).

(ái), when pronounced in the second tone, means to suffer or endure. For example, 挨打 (áidǎ) and 挨揍 (áizòu) refer to taking a beating, 挨骂 (áimà) means to be chided, and 挨饿 (áiè) is to starve.

Chinese word for hypocrisy

We know that being polite helps us get along with strangers as well as acquaintances. In particular, when we have a visiting guest, or 客人 (kèrén), we would be extra courteous and try to make them feel comfortable.

客气 (kèqi) means being polite, courteous or modest. On the other hand, depending on the situation, 不客气 (bùkèqi) could mean impolite, rude, or “Don’t mention it.”

好客 (hàokè) describes one who is gregarious and loves to entertain guests. Notice that, in this word, (hào) is pronounced in the fourth tone and means “to love to”. 做客 (zuòkè) means to be a guest.

王先生好客. 他时常在家里请客.
Wáng xiānsheng hàokè. Tā shícháng zài jiā liqǐngkè.

客房 (kèfáng) is a guest room, whereas 客厅 (kètīng) is a living room or parlor.

The passengers on a bus, a train or an airplane are also referred to as (kè). So,
客车 (kèchē) is a bus or a passenger train, 客机 (kèjī) is an airliner, and 乘客 (chéngkè) are the passengers.

顾客 (gùkè) are customers or shoppers. 政客 (zhèngkè) are politicians.

Understandably 客观 (kèguān) means looking at things in an objective way.

客套 (kètào) are civilities. 客套话 (kètào huà) is the polite platitude exchanged among guests. This often includes some compliments or flattery called 恭维 (gōngwéi a compliment; to flatter).

Sometimes the compliments we give or receive may be insincere. 虚伪 (xūwěi) and 虚假 (xūjiǎ) both mean being false or hypocritical. This word can also be used as a noun that means pretense or hypocrisy.

我不喜欢她的虚伪做作.
Wǒ bù xǐhuān tā de xūwěi zuòzuò.
I don’t like her insincere and affected ways.

我看穿了他的虚情假意.
Wǒ kànchuān le tā de xūqíngjiǎyì.
I have seen through his false display of affection.

(xū) means empty, false, nominal or physically weak. 虚无 (xūwú) is nothingness.

空虚 (kōngxū) means hollow or empty. 心里的空虚 (xīn li de kōngxū) means the emptiness in one’s heart.

心虚 (xīnxū) means lacking self confidence or having a guilty conscience and afraid of being found out. A commonly used Chinese idiom describing the latter condition is 做贼心虚 (zuòzéixīnxū). A thief is apt to have an uneasy feeling and fears being found out.

On the other hand, 虚心 (xūxīn) means being open-minded or modest.

我会虚心地向他学习.
Wǒ huì xūxīn di xiàng tā xuéxí.
I will learn from him with humility.

谦虚 (qiānxū) also means being modest. 谦虚的话 (qiānxū de huà) are self-effacing remarks.

虚荣 (xūróng) is vanity.

虚弱 (xūruò) means weak and feeble because of poor health.

(xūjiǎ) and (wěi) mean false or fake.

伪造 (wěizào) means to forge or fabricate.

伪君子 (wěijūnzǐ) is a hypocrite.

How to 辨别真伪 (biànbié zhēn wěi), i.e. tell the true from the false? It definitely requires a keen mind’s eye.

Chinese word for praising someone

Everybody likes to receive a pat on the back from time to time for a job well done.

音乐老师夸奖莉莉的歌喉好.
Yīnyuè lǎoshī kuājiǎng Lìlì de gēhóugē hǎo.
The music teacher praises Lily’s nice singing voice.

人人称赞他是个好丈夫.
Rénrén chēngzàn tā shì gè hǎo zhàngfū.
Everyone commends him as a good husband.

夸奖 (kuājiǎng) and 称赞 (chēngzàn) both mean to praise or to commend someone.

Today we will take a look at the two characters that make up the word 称赞 (chēngzàn).

(chēng) has multiple meanings. In 称赞 (chēngzàn), it serves as the verb “to call” or “to state”. (zàn) is the approval that is issued.

称呼 (chēnghu) and 称谓 (chēngwèi) are forms of address. 称呼 (chēnghu) can also be used as a verb.

叔叔的妻子应当怎么称呼?
Shūshu de qīzi yīngdāng zěnme chēnghu?
How should one address the wife of an uncle?

名称 (míngchēng) is the name of an item or an organization, and 别称 (biéchēng) is an alternative name or an alias.

称病 (chēngbìng) is to claim to be ill. 称霸 (chēngbà) is to claim control or hegemony.

(chèng) is a balance or a steelyard. As a verb, it means to weigh something. This word is pronounced in the fourth tone. 对称 (duìchèng) means balanced and symmetrical.

When pronounced as (chèn), this word means to befit or to suit. Therefore, 称职 (chènzhí) means to have abilities that match a job post. 称心 (chènxīn) describes something that is satisfactory and pleases one’s mind.

(zàn) means to agree with, to favor, to support or to commend.

赞成 (zànchéng) and 赞同 (zàntóng) mean to approve of, to agree with or to endorse.

她不赞成今天去钓鱼.
Tā bùzànchéng jīntiān qù diàoyú.
She disapproves of going fishing today.

赞许 (zànxǔ) and 赞扬 (zànyáng) both mean to commend or speak favorably of someone.

赞佩 (zànpèi) and 赞赏 (zànshǎng) mean to admire and appreciate someone.

赞美 (zànměi) and 赞颂 (zànsòng) mean to praise or to eulogize. Hymns are called 赞美诗 (zànměishī) or 赞美歌 (zànměigē).

赞不绝口 (zànbùjuěkǒu) is a Chinese idiom that means to be full of praise.

老板对于这位新职员赞不绝口.
Lǎobǎn duìyú zhèi wèi xīn zhíyuán zànbùjuěkǒu.
The boss has nothing but praises for this new employee.

By the way, the sound of (zàn) in the Taiwanese dialect means “Great!” or “Wonderful!”.

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