Sing Tenting Tonight in Chinese

American Flag

American Flag

“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”, also known as “Tenting Tonight”, is a sorrowful anti-war song with words and music composed by Walter Kittredge during the American Civil War. It describes the atrocities of war and reveals how soldiers actually long for peace and don’t really want to go to war.

露营 means to camp out, usually in a tent. 扎营 is to set up a tent. Here, we are talking about a military camp. My brother liked to sing this song, and that’s how I came to know it. I’ve made the Chinese translation easy to sing, while still closely following the English verses.

 

今夜在这里露营 Tenting Tonight
 Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng

今夜又在老战场扎下营,               
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng zhá xià yíng
We’re tenting to-night on the old camp ground,

唱只歌来听听.                             
Chàng zhī gē lái tīng tīng.
Give us a song to cheer

唱唱家园, 朋友的情景,                 
Chàng chàng jiāyuán péngyǒu de qíngjǐng
Our weary hearts, a song of home,

安慰我们疲惫的心.                       
ānwèi wǒmén píbèi de xīn.
And friends we love so dear.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,           
Yǒu duōshao de rén jīnwǎn xīnqíng bù níng,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,

期望战火快快停.                           
Qíwàng zhànhuǒ kuài kuài tíng.
Wishing for the war to cease,

有多少的人渴望能有幸
Yǒu duōshao de rén kěwàng néng yǒu xìng
Many are the hearts looking for the right,

看到宝贵的和平.                           
kàndào bǎoguì de hépíng.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜露营, 今夜露营,                     
Jīn yè lùyíng, jīn yè lùyíng,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,

今夜在这里露营.                          
Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

今夜又在老战场上露营,                ,
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng lùyíng
We’ve been tenting to-night on the old camp ground

思乡之情更切.                               
Sī xiāng zhī qíng gèng qiè.
Thinking of days gone by,

想到家人握着手叮咛,                   
Xiǎngdào jiārén wò zhe shǒu dīngníng,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand

依依挥泪道别.                               
Yīyī huī lèi dào bié.
And the tear that said “Good-by!”

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
今夜在这里露营.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

我们不再热切逞英勇.
Wǒmén bùzài rèqiè chěng yīngyǒn,
We are tired of war on the old camp ground.

有些人已把命送.
Yǒuxiē rén yǐ bà mìng sòng.
Many are dead and gone.

其他离乡背井的弟兄
Lí xiāng bèi jǐng de dìxiōng
Of the brave and true who’ve left their homes,

大都负伤惨重.
Dàdū fùshāng cǎnzhòng.
Others been wounded long.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
今夜在这里露营.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

今夜又在老战场上火拼,               
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng shàng huǒ pīn
We’ve been fighting to-day on the old camp ground,

诸弟兄遍地躺.                               
Dìxiōng zhū biàndì tǎng.
Many are lying near;

有些已逝, 有些奄奄呻吟,               
Yǒuxiē yǐ shì, yǒuxiē yǎnyǎn shēnyín,
Some are dead, and some are dying,

也有人泪满眶.
Yě yǒurén lèi mǎn kuàng.
Many are in tears.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜成仁, 今夜成仁,
Jīn yè chéngrèn, jīn yè chéngrèn,
Dying tonight, dying tonight,

今夜在这里成仁.                           
Jīn yè zài zhelǐ chéngrèn.
Dying on the old camp ground.

 

祝你有个美好的七月四日!
Zhù nǐ yǒu gè měihǎo de qīyuè sìrì!
Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Chinese idioms that follow the AABB pattern (1)

Have you ever wondered why many Chinese idioms contain exactly four characters? It’s because a phrase with four syllables simply sounds good, much like the four quarter beats in a measure of a musical composition. Well, that’s just one of the reasons. Written classical Chinese is concise, perhaps to minimize the amount of time and effort it takes to write the characters using a brush dipped in ink one makes by grinding the ink stick on a wet stone slab. A four-character phrase is short in length but can still accommodate a multitude of combinations of single-character and double-character words to form a meaningful expression or even summarize an entire story. Traditional Chinese people like to have things 四平八稳 (sìpíngbāwěn), i.e. very stable, well grounded and well organized. A four-character phrase is like a table that is flat on all four sides and stable in all eight directions. Therefore, generations of students studied text books filled with four-character phrases and idioms, and scholars took pride in being able to judiciously or cleverly incorporate choice idioms in their stereotyped essays. Many of the Chinese idioms are made up of pair of four-character phrases, which further strengthen the robust structure.

Today we will look at a few Chinese idioms that are relatively easy to learn because each consists of just two different characters in duplicate. Most of the examples below are adjectives or adverbial phrases.

You’re probably already familiar with 马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū), which means so-so, not too bad, not very good,or being careless. When someone asks how you’ve been, you could use this phrase as a response.

三三两两 (sānsānliǎngliǎng) means in twos and threes.

他们三三两两一道回家.
Tāmen sānsānliǎngliǎng yīdào huíjiā.
They went home together in twos and threes.

慢慢腾腾 (mànmànténgténg) means unhurried or slowly.

他做事慢慢腾腾.
Tā zuòshì mànmànténgténg.
He takes his time in doing things.

鬼鬼祟祟 (guǐguǐsuìsuì) and 偷偷摸摸 (tōutōumōmō) both refer to doing things stealthily or covertly. The opposite is 堂堂正正 (tángtángzhèngzhèng), which means to be open and aboveboard. This phrase also describes an honest and dignified person, with nothing to hide or to be ashamed of.

轰轰烈烈 (hōnghōnglièliè) describes doing something on a grand scale with a bang, as in a revolution.

干干净净 (gāngānjìngjìng) means clean and tidy, or spick-and-span. 规规矩矩 (guīguījǔjǔ) means punctilious or following rules to a T.

断断续续 (duànduànxùxù) means intermittently.

他们断断续续通了几次信.
Tāmen duànduànxùxù tōng le jǐ cì xìn.
They wrote to each other off and on a few times.

战战兢兢 (zhànzhànjīngjīng) literally translates to “trembling with fear”. It describes a state of being extremely cautious.

舒舒服服 (shūshūfúfú) means comfortably.

他舒舒服服地睡了个午睡.
Tā shūshūfúfú di shuì le gè wǔshuì.
He took a sweet nap.

叽叽喳喳 (jījīzhāzhā) means to twitter like birds.

嘻嘻哈哈 (xīxīhāhā) means laughing and acting happily.

她们叽叽喳喳, 嘻嘻哈哈, 非常快乐.
Tāmen jījīzhāzhā, xīxīhāhā, fēicháng kuàilè.
They chattered and laughed, feeling very happy.

哭哭啼啼 (kūkutítí) is to weep and wail incessantly.

她哭哭啼啼地回家去了.
Tā kūkutítí di huíjiā qù le.
She went home crying and wailing along the way.

扭扭捏捏 (niǔniǔniēniē affected, not straightforward, unmanly) describes the mincing manners of some people, particularly ladies.

他扭扭捏捏, 似乎不好意思.
Tā niǔniǔniēniē, sìhu bùhǎoyìsi.
He acts hesitantly, appearing to be shy and ill at ease.

On the other hand, 大大方方 (dàdàfāngfāng) means to behave graciously, naturally and unaffected.

她大大方方地伸出手来.
Tā dàdàfāngfāng di shēnchū shǒu lái.
She graciously extended her hand.

里里外外 (lǐlǐwàiwài) means inside and outside of a person, a household or an establishment.

这件事, 里里外外的人都知道了.
Zhèi jiàn shì, lǐlǐwàiwài de rén dōu zhīdào le.
Everybody around already knows about this.

来来回回 (láiláihuíhuí) means going back and forth.

他来来回回找了三次.
Tā láiláihuíhuí zhǎo le sān cì.
He went back and forth searching (for it) three times.

来来往往 (láiláiwǎngwǎng) means going to-and-fro.

街上来来往往的人很多.
Jiē shàng láiláiwǎngwǎng de rén hěn duō.
On the street many people are coming and going.

%d bloggers like this: