Sing Chinese Song – Fisherman’s Plight

Fishes in the Sea
Fishes in the Sea

Soon the winter wind will be blowing over the country and bring with it chills, snow or sleet. While we huddle in front of the fireplace, think of the fishermen who must brave the cold and often stormy weather to make a living. Fisherman’s Plight is the theme song of an old Chinese movie that was very popular a couple generations ago. It is a classic that has withstood the test of time. This version provides good pronunciation of the lyrics but at snail speed. I suggest that you play it at 1.25 times the normal speed to preserve the lilting quality of the music.

Yú Guāng Qū

Yún er piāo zài hǎi kōng,
Clouds are floating in the ocean sky;

yú er cáng zài shuǐzhōng.
Fishes are hiding under the water.

Zǎochén tàiyáng lǐ shài yúwǎng,
In the morning sun we dry the fish net,

yíngmiàn chuī guòlái dà hǎifēng.
the ocean wind blowing in our faces.

潮水升, 浪花涌,
Cháoshuǐ shēng, lànghuā yǒng,
The tide rises and the waves billow;

yú chuán er piāo piāo gè xī dōng.
The fishing boats drift here and there.

轻撒网, 紧拉绳,
Qīng sā wǎng, jǐn lā shéng,
Throwing the net out gently and pulling the ropes in tight,

yānwù lǐ xīnkǔ děng yú zōng.
We wait arduously in the smoke and fog for traces of the fish.

鱼儿难捕, 租税重,
Yú er nán bǔ, zūshuì zhòng,
Fish is hard to catch, and the boat rental fee and taxes are high.

bǔ yú rén er shìshì qióng.
It’s the fisherman’s lot to be poor from generation to generation.

Yéyé liú xià de pò yúwǎng,
The patched fishing net left behind by grandpa

xiǎoxīn zài kào tāguò yī dōng.
we had better take good care of it to tide us over this winter.

N.B. 飘 and 漂 are pronounced the same. 飘 means to float in air, while 漂 means to float on water. Did you catch the error in the lyrics displayed in the video?

Attention please: “5 Stories in Chinese -Book 1 Chinese Tales” was published last month.
I have since added more material to the eBook. Those of you who have already obtained Book 1, please ask to let you download the updated version. Thank you.

To listen to a reading of the first story in this eBook, please click on this youtube link.

If you would like me to check the sentences that you have constructed for the exercises in “5 Stories in Chinese”, please post them in a Comment.

5 Stories in Chinese – Book2 Tales from around the World” is now live.

圣诞快乐, 新年如意!
Shèngdàn kuàilè, xīnnián rúyì!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

How to say not to worry in Chinese

Blue Sky After Rain

In everyday life we encounter situations in which someone owes you an apology. If it’s not a big issue, there are a few things you could say to ease their mind.

It’s fine.

No matter. It’s OK.

It doesn’t matter; it’s nothing; never mind.

Méi wèntí.
No problem.

不要紧 or 不打紧
Bùyàojǐn or bù dǎjǐn.
It doesn’t matter; that’s all right.

Bùyào fàng zàixīn shàng.
Don’t worry about it.

Bùyào jièyì.
Don’t mind it.

In case where someone is worried about something, you could try to tell them to relax.

别着急. 着急是没有用的
Bié zhāojí. Zhāojí shì méiyǒu yòng de.
Don’t worry. It’s no use worrying.

慢慢来. 别急.
Màn man lái. Bié jí.
Take it easy. No rush.

唉呀! 别紧张.
Āi ya! Bié jǐnzhāng.
Well, take it easy.

Fàng qīngsōng xiē.

Bùyòng dānxīn.
No need to worry.

你放心吧. 他一定会回来的.
Nǐ fàngxīn ba. Tā yīdìng huì huílái de.
Rest assured. He will definitely come back.

看开一点. 这件事没有你想的那么严重.
Kàn kāi yīdiǎn. Zhè jiàn shì méiyǒu nǐ xiǎng dì nàme yánzhòng.
Take it easy. This issue is not as serious as you think.

Chuán dào qiáotóu zìrán zhí.
The boat will straighten itself when it comes to the bridge.
(Let’s cross the bridge when we come to it.)

不要忧愁; 不久就会雨过天晴.
Bùyào yōuchóu; bùjiǔ jiù huì yǔguò tiān qíng.
Don’t worry; soon the sun will shine again after the rain.
(Every cloud has a silver lining.)

我想, 最后一定会皆大欢喜.
Wǒ xiǎng, zuìhòu yīdìng huì jiēdàhuānxǐ.
I think, everyone will be happy in the end.
(All’s well that ends well.)

Now, what would you say when you decide to shrug away some minor annoyance?

It doesn’t matter.

Guǎn tā.
Who cares.

Suí tā qù
Let it be.

Never mind.

Suàn wǒ dǎoméi.
Just my luck!

Shéi jiào wǒ yùnqì bù hǎo!
Who told me to be so unlucky!
(Just my luck!)

The story goes that once there was a poor old guy riding a rowboat along a river to go home. At lunchtime, the other passengers took out their lunchboxes and enjoyed their nice meals. All the old guy had was a salted duck egg that he had saved from his breakfast. He used a pair of chopsticks to poke a hole in the eggshell and then picked up bits of the egg to savor in his mouth. As he did so, the egg became lighter and lighter. At last, he decided to set the remainder of the egg aside to snack on later. Suddenly, a puff of wind swept by and blew the nearly empty eggshell off his hand. Watching his precious eggshell float downstream, he muttered:

风吹鸭蛋壳, 财去人安乐.
Fēng chuī yādàn ké, cái qù rén ānlè.
Eggshell went with the breeze; fortune’s gone, but mind’s at peace.

Yes, free is the heart that is not tethered by worldly possessions. By the way, when you are worried, you could try singing the refrain of “Worried Man Blues” in Chinese. This song is featured at the end of Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“. Click here to listen to the entire song in English.

New! Check out my e-Book “5 Stories in Chinese -Book 1” that has just been released.

11/27/21 Note: I have since added more example sentences to the eBook. Those of you who have already downloaded the eBook, please ask to let you download the updated version. Thanks.

To listen to a reading of the first story in this eBook, please click on this youtube link.

Learn Chinese word radical – Bone

I’m linking to the above youtube video because it deals with a health issue related to what we are discussing today – 骨 (gǔ bones), and also because Bob and Brad are my favorite physical therapists on the Internet.

The character 骨 (gǔ) is used as a radical for just a few Chinese words. 骨骼 (gǔgé) or 骨骸 (gǔ hái) refers to the anatomical skeleton. 骷髅 (kūlóu) are the skull and bones of a dead human being or animal, like the ones featured on Halloween. 骰子 (shǎi zi or tóu zi) are dice. 滑 (huá) means slippery or to slip.

In everyday language we say 骨头 (gǔtou) instead of simply 骨 (gǔ). So, lazy bones are called 懒骨头 (lǎn gǔtou).

Here are a few parts of the human skeleton. Learn these words so that when you make a visit to 骨科 (gǔkē orthopedics), you will be able to refer to the correct part that ails you. 额骨 (égǔ) frontal bone
颚骨 (ègǔ) jawbone
骨脊 (gǔjí) spine
椎骨 (zhuígǔ) vertebra
骨节 (gǔjié) joint
坐骨 (zuògǔ) ischium
坐骨神经痛 (zuògǔshénjīng tòng) sciatica
骨刺 (gǔcì) bone spurs
骨盆 (gǔpén) pelvis
骨髓 (gǔsuǐ) bone marrow
骨干 (gǔgàn) is the backbone. 骨干企业 (gǔgàn qǐyè) means the key enterprise.

骨化 (gǔ huà) is to ossify, and 骨灰 (gǔhuī) are the ashes of the dead.

骨肉 (gǔròu) means flesh and blood. The phrase 骨肉相連 (gǔròu xiānglián) means closely linked like flesh and blood.

骨瘦如柴 (gǔshòurúchái) describes a person who is skinny like firewood.

骨 (gǔ) also connotes the essence of one’s character. So, 骨气 (gǔqì) means the strength of character or moral integrity. A person with 傲骨 (àogǔ) is one who has a lofty and unyielding character.

Literally, 骨子里 (gǔzilǐ) means in one’s bones. Figuratively, it refers to one’s true (often not so noble) intentions.

Biǎomiàn shàng tā tàidu chéngkěn, dàn wǒmen zhīdào tā de gǔzilǐ biéyǒuyòngxīn.
On the surface he acts cordially, but we know he has ulterior motives.

In the article I posted on 9/29/20, we came across the word 露骨 (lùgǔ showing one’s bones). This expression describes a remark or action that is considered point-blank, explicit, or without polite disguise.

骨器 (gǔqì) are objects made out of bones. Yes, it sounds exactly the same as 骨气 (gǔqì).

骨牌 (gǔpái) is the game of domino.

脫胎換骨 (tuōtāihuàngǔ) is to be reborn, i.e. totally transformed.

他自从去了巴黎就脱胎换骨, 变了一个人.
Tā zìcóng qùle bālí jiù tuōtāihuàngǔ, biànle yīgè rén.
Since he went to Paris, he has changed completely into a different person.

刻骨铭心 (kègǔmíngxīn) means to be engraved on one’s bones and heart. This expression is often used in a thank you letter to say that one will remember the favor with gratitude to the end of one’s life.

粉身碎骨 (fěnshēnsuìgǔ) means to have one’s body smashed to pieces.

我愿为她粉身碎骨, 在所不辞.
Wǒ yuàn wéi tā fěnshēnsuìgǔ, zài suǒ bùcí.
I’m willing to break my bones for her and not hesitate under any circumstances.

连皮带骨 (lián pí dài gǔ) means skin, bones and all, i.e. the whole thing.

当心啊! 别让那怪物把你连皮带骨给吃了!
Dāngxīn a! Bié ràng nà guàiwù bǎ nǐ lián pídài gǔ gěi chīle!
Beware! Don’t let that monster swallow you whole!

Wànshèngjié kuàilè!
Happy Halloween!

Learn Chinese word radical – Feather


Eagle Painting

The word 羽 (yǔ) consists of a pair of feathers showing the shafts and a couple of the barbs on the vanes. In everyday speech, feathers are called 羽毛 (yǔ máo).

Badminton is called 羽毛球 (yǔmáoqiú) because traditionally the shuttlecocks were made with real goose feathers. Badminton bats are called 羽毛球拍 (yǔmáoqiú pāi).

Nǐ dǎ yǔmáoqiú ma?
Do you play badminton?

To keep themselves healthy, birds will preen their feathers several times a day. To keep one’s reputation intact, a person would mind his conduct and dealings. This is referred to as 爱惜羽毛 (àixī yǔmáo).

他太爱惜羽毛, 因此做事过于谨慎.
Tā tài àixī yǔmáo, yīncǐ zuòshì guòyú jǐnshèn.
He cares too much about his reputation, so that he is too cautious in doing things.

Whereas the 羽 (yǔ) radical is shown completely in the Traditional Chinese word 習 (xí), the Simplified Chinese version of the word is reduced to just one feather, 习 (xí).

习 (xí) originally describes how birds fly back and forth repeatedly. The meaning has been extended to refer to repeating certain actions, as in practicing something or having a habit.

学习 (xuéxí) means to learn, and 见习 jiànxí means to train on the job. To study on your own is 自习 (zìxí), and 练习(liànxí) is to practice.

不管你学什么, 多多练习是很重要的.
Bùguǎn nǐ xué shénme, duōduō liànxí shì hěn zhòngyào de.
Regardless of what you study, it is important to practice a lot.

As a noun, 习惯 (xíguàn) is a habit. As a verb, it means to be accustomed to something. 坏习惯 (huài xíguàn) is a bad habit, and 恶习 (èxí) is a vice.

这里经常下雨, 我们已经习惯了.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen yǐjīng xíguàn le.
It rains often here, and we are accustomed to it.

Here is another way to put it, using a four-character Chinese idiom:

这里经常下雨, 我们早就习以为常.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen zǎo jiù xíyǐwéicháng.
It rains often here, and we’ve been accustomed to it since long ago.

The formal word for wings is 翼 (yì). In every day speech we call wings 翅膀 (chìbǎng). The 羽 (yǔ) radical features prominently in both words.

小心翼翼 (xiǎoxīnyìyì) means with great care, or cautiously.

不翼而飞 (bù yì ér fēi) is a commonly used Chinese idiom that means to disappear all of a sudden (taking off without wings).

如虎添翼 (rúhǔtiānyì) refers to redoubled power, like a tiger that has grown wings.

有了一百辆坦克车加入他强大的阵容, 这将是如虎添翼.
Yǒule yībǎi liàng tǎnkè chē jiārù tā qiángdà de zhènróng, zhè jiāng shì rúhǔtiānyì.
With a hundred tanks joining his powerful battle array, this will be like a tiger with wings.

Following are a few more commonly used words that include the 羽 (yǔ) radical.

翔 (xiáng) is to circle in the air. This word is made up of the character for goats and a pair of feathers. 飞翔 (fēixiáng) is to fly and 滑翔 (huáxiáng) is to glide in the air. The glider aircraft is called a 滑翔机 (huáxiángjī).

Hǎojiǔ méi kàn dào huáxiángjīle.
I haven’t seen a glider for a long time.

扇子 (shànzi) are handheld fans, while 电风扇 (diàn fēngshàn) or 电扇 (diànshàn) are electric fans. Fans made with real feathers are called 羽毛扇 (yǔmáo shàn).

煽动 (shāndòng) is to incite. Notice how the word 煽 (shān) also takes on the fire radical.

翁 (wēng) and 老翁 (lǎowēng) refer to men or old men. A millionair is called a 百万富翁 (bǎi wàn fùwēng).

When speaking of someone with an ulterior motive, you could say,

Zuì wēng zhī yì bùzài jiǔ.
The old tippler’s heart is not in the cup.

蹋 (tà) is to stamp one’s foot or to step on something. 糟蹋 (zāotà) is to spoil, waste, wreck something, or to abuse someone.

把碗里的食物吃完, 不要糟蹋东西.
Bǎ wǎn lǐ de shíwù chī wán; bùyào zāotà dōngxi.
Finish eating the food in the bowl; don’t waste things.

With the “soil” radical on the left side, 塌 (tà) means to collapse. Therefore, 倒塌 (dǎotā) means to collapse or to topple down. 一塌糊涂 (yītāhútú) means a whole mess, and 死心塌地 (sǐxīntādì) means to have one’s heart set on or to be hell-bent on doing something.

分开了50年, 她依然死心塌地的爱着他.
Fēnkāi le wǔshí nián, tā yīrán sǐxīntādì de àizhe tā.
After 50 years of separation, she still loves him with all her heart.

摺 (zhé) is to fold. 摺紙 (zhézhǐ) means folding paper, or origami.

寥 (liáo) means few. 寥寥无几 (liáoliáo wújǐ) is an idiom that means very few.

翡翠 (fěicuì) is jade. 翠绿 (cuìlǜ) is emerald green.

翻 (fān) means to turn over. 翻滚 (fāngǔn) is to tumble. 翻车 (fānchē) refers to the rollover of a vehicle.
天翻地覆 (tiānfāndìfù) is an idiom describing total confusion and chaos, or being topsy-turvy.

翻脸 (fānliǎn) or 闹翻 (nào fān) means to have a fall out with someone and no longer be friendly with that person.

Tāmen wèile zhēngduó nǚyǒu ér nào fān le.
They fell out fighting over the same girlfriend.

翻译 (fānyì) means to translate from one language to another.

推翻 (tuīfān) means to overthrow or to overturn.

翻山越岭 (fān shānyuè lǐng) is a Chinese idiom describing an arduous journey climbing over many mountains.

廖 (liào) is a Chinese surname. This word is the answer to an interesting riddle you can find in Chapter 24 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Happy Moon Festival!

Musings in Chinese on gardening

Snow Pea Flower
Pink Snow Pea Flower

Well, I don’t exactly have zucchinis coming out of my ears, but this year I took care to spray the plants with a 1:10 hydrogen peroxide solution at the first appearance of powdery mildew, and we have enough zucchinis to enjoy and share with our 100-year-old neighbor.

我喜欢园艺, 尤其是种蔬菜.
Wǒ xǐhuān yuányì, yóuqí shì zhòng shūcài.
I enjoy gardening, especially growing vegetables.

看着幼小的植物逐渐长大, 心中无比高兴。
Kànzhe yòuxiǎo de zhíwù zhújiàn zhǎng dà, xīnzhōng wúbǐ gāoxìng.
It gives me immense pleasure to watch the young plants grow up gradually.

能为家人提供新鲜的蔬菜, 令我引以为豪.
Néng wéi jiārén tígōng xīnxiān de shūcài, lìng wǒ yǐn yǐ wéi háo.
It makes me proud to be able to provide my family with fresh vegetables.

此外, 园艺还给了我许多人生道理的启示.
Cǐwài, yuányì hái gěi le wǒ xǔduō rénshēng dàolǐ de qǐshì.
Besides, gardening has also given me many revelations about life.

俗话说: “春耕,夏耘,秋收,冬藏.”
Súhuà shuō: “Chūn gēng, xià yún, qiū shōu, dōng cáng.”
As the adage goes, “Plough in spring, weed in summer, harvest in autumn, store in winter.”

种适合在您的地区生长植物, 而不是您梦想可以种植的植物.
Zhòng shìhé zài nín de dìqū shēngzhǎng de zhíwù, ér bùshì nín mèngxiǎng kěyǐ zhòngzhí de zhíwù.
Plant what will grow in your region, not what you dream would grow.

我们做事不也要看天时, 地利, 人和吗?
Wǒmen zuòshì bù yě yào kàn tiānshí, dìlì, rén hé ma?
When we do a project, don’t we also need to consider the right timing, the right place, and the right team?

Yī kē xiǎo zhǒngzǐ kěyǐ zhǎng chéngyī kē dà shù.
A tiny seed could grow into a large tree.

Wǒ rènwéi měi gèrén yě dōu yǒu hěn dà de qiánlì.
I think there is also great potential in each person.

植物需要肥料, 就像人体需要营养一样。
Zhíwù xūyào féiliào, jiù xiàng réntǐ xūyào yíngyǎng yīyàng.
Plants need fertilizers just like a human body needs nourishment.

Rénmen yě xūyào jiàoyù hé xiūyǎng lái zīyǎng tāmen de xīnlíng.
People also need education and cultivation to nourish their minds.

种瓜得瓜, 种豆得豆.
Zhòngguādéguā, zhòngdòudédòu.
You get what you sow.

Dànshì, wǒmen bìxū fùchū nǔlì bìng qiě yào yǒu nàixīn.
However, we must put in the effort and have patience.

当然, 我们不应该试图揠苗助长.
Of course, we should not try to help the shoots grow by pulling them upward (i.e. spoil things by excessive enthusiasm).

Huài xíguàn jiù xiàng zá cǎo; tāmen zǔ’ài wǒmen de fǎzhǎn.
Bad habits are like weeds; they hinder our development.

就像去芜存菁, 我们可以保留我们的优良人品并消除缺点.
Jiù xiàng qù wú cún jīng, wǒmen kěyǐ bǎoliú wǒmen de yōuliáng rénpǐn bìng xiāochú quēdiǎn.
Like culling the plants, we could keep our good qualities and elminate the shortcomings.

行行出状元; 我们应该虚心向有经验的人学习.
Háng háng chū zhuàngyuán; wǒmen yīnggāi xūxīn xiàng yǒu jīngyàn de rén xuéxí.
There are masters in every profession; we should learn humbly from experienced people.

如果您失败了, 不要气馁. 明年再试试.
Rúguǒ nín shībàile, bùyào qìněi. Míngnián zài shì shì.
If you fail, don’t lose heart. Try again next year.

找出问题所在, 对症下药.
Zhǎo chū wèntí suǒzài, duìzhèngxiàyào.
Find out where the problem is and apply the proper remedy.

一粒米, 一滴汗.
Yī lì mǐ, yīdī hàn
A grain of rice, a drop of sweat.

在感激有菜蔬享用之际, 我们应该尽力保护地球和环境.
Zài gǎnjī yǒu càishū xiǎngyòng zhī jì, wǒmen yīnggāi jìnlì bǎohù dìqiú hé huánjìng.
While we appreciate having fresh produce to enjoy, we should do our best to protect the earth and the environment.

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