Labor Day in Chinese

Bee in Flower

Bee Collecting Pollens

In “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” we talked about a number of the major Chinese holidays. Here in the USA we are celebrating today the Labor Day, i.e. 劳工节 (láogōng jié). This is different from the 劳动节
(láodòngjié), which is the International Labour Day on May 1. Labor Day was the day the Labor Movement was created in the USA to fight for better wages, reasonable working hours and safer working conditions. This national holiday is annually observed as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

劳工 (láogōng) or 工人 (gōngrén) are workers, and 运动 (yùndòng) could refer to a physical exercise or a movement.

Láogōng duìyú jīngjì yǒu hěn dà de gòngxiàn.
The workers contribute greatly to the economy.

The sociey needs the support of workers, just like a bee colony needs to be maintained by the worker bees. It is interesting that in a bee colony, all the work is carried out by female bees.

Gōngfēng jiànzào fēngwō.
The worker bees construct the bee hive.

Tāmen qínláo de shōují huāfěn, huāmì, yǐjí shuǐ.
They diligently collect pollen, nectar and water.

Tāmen niàng zhì fēngmì lái wèi yòuchóng.
They make honey to feed the larvae.

Tāmen shènzhì yào fùzé yǔ dírén zuòzhàn.
They are even charged with the duty of battling the enemies.

Tāmen cōngmáng lái qù, fēicháng mánglù.
They hurry to and fro and are very busy.

Tāmen duìyú gōngzuò yǒu nónghòu de xìngqù.
They have a keen interest in doing their work.

Rúguǒ tāmen zài tiān nuǎn huā hǎo de shíhòu bù nǔlì gōngzuò,
If they don’t work hard when the flowers are blooming and the weather is fair,

Jiānglái rúhé nénggòu ānquán dùguò dōngtiān?
how can they survive winter in the future?

Now, watch this video and give yourself a pat on the back if you understand the lyrics 100%.

If you would like to practice writing some of the Chinese characters, please print out Chinese Character Tracing 30.

If you would like to play this simple song on a keyboard, click here to get the music sheet.

Láogōng jié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Labor Day!

Sing Que Sera Sera in Chinese

Some Chinese people believe that everyone’s fate is compiled in a celestial book called 天書 (tiānshū). In fact, the main character in the novel titled 红楼梦 (Hónglóumèng Dream of the Red Mansion) managed to get a glimpse of this heavenly book in one of his dreams. As 天書 (tiānshū) is in Chinese, the more reason for you to master the written Chinese language. Just kidding.

You’ve probably wondered why you are who you are, where you are and how you are. Is it all in the genes, is it due to your parents’ and your own efforts, or is it the outcome of a predetermined sequence of cause and effect admixed with a bit of magic at times? We will leave the argument of nature versus nurture to the philosophers. The correct answer for us today is, “Que sera sera.” That’s Spanish for “What will be, will be.”

“Que Sera Sera” is a song written by the Jay Livingston and Ray Evans songwriting team and made internationally popular by the adorable Doris Day. The lively tune buoys our spirits despite the fact that there is not really an answer to the big question. Click on this link to hear the Mandarin version performed by Teresa Deng.

The Mandarin lyrics can be found at this link.

世事 (shìshì) is the abbreviation of 世界上的事 (shìjiè shàng de shì), i.e. the affairs of life. Therefore 世事多变化. (Shìshì duō biànhuà.) means things in life change.

(wèn) means to ask. 问题 (wèntí) are questions. 好些问题 (hǎoxiē wèntí) means a good deal of questions.

将来 (jiānglái) means the future or in the future.
幸福 (xìngfú) means well-being or living happily.
或是 (huò shì) means or, perhaps.

有一番道理 (yǒu yī fān dàoli) means makes sense. You could also say 有道理 (yǒu dàoli).

未来 (wèilái future) means the future or future (adjective). 怎能 (zěn néng) means “how could one”. 料得及 (liào de jí) means able to predict. The complete line means “How could one predict the future?”

人生 (rénshēng) is life. 本是 (běn shì) is short for 本来是 (běnlái shì) means “after all is”. (mí) is a riddle. So, life is after all a riddle.

结婚后 (jiéhūn hòu) means “after getting married”. 夫唱妇又随 (fū chàng fù yòu suí) comes from the Chinese idiom 夫唱妇随 (fū chàng fù suí), which literally translates to: “The husband sings and the wife follows.” The traditional Chinese view is that a good wife should dance to her husband’s tune. This line describes a harmonious married life.

不止一回 (bùzhǐ yī huí) means not just once, or more than once.
是否永久 (shìfǒu yǒngjiǔ) means “whether or not if will be forever”.
多虑 (duō lǜ) means worrying too much.

现在的 (xiànzài de) is an adjective that means current or present. 儿女 (érnǚ) are one’s children.

伶俐 (língli) means bright and clever.

提起好些问题 (tíqǐ hǎoxiē wèntí) means to raise quite a few questions.

前途 (qiántú) is one’s future or prospect. 如意 (rúyì) means to have one’s wishes fulfilled.

(quàn) is to advise or to persuade somebody.

(mò) is the formal word for “don’t”, “not” or “no”. 莫多虑 (Mò duō lǜ.) means “Don’t worry too much.” In everyday speech, you would say: 別想太多. (Bié xiǎng tàiduō. Don’t think too much.)

May the New Year bring you health, happiness and good fortune!

Xīnnián rúyì!
May your wishes come true in the new year!

Signing in Chinese

二手货 (èrshǒuhuò) means second-hand merchandise. Here, the word (èr two) refers to 第二 (dìèr second, or secondly). If you mean to say “both hands”, then say 两只手 (liǎng zhī shǒu two hands), or 双手 (shuāngshǒu both hands).

When a word or expression escapes us, we might make a gesture to help convey what we are trying to say. Hand gestures are also often used to emphasize a point. In fact, certain facial expressions and hand gestures are an integral part of some languages. For people with impaired hearing and/or speech, the ability to employ sign language is a true blessing. The Chinese word for sign language is 手语 (shǒuyǔ).

Associating an expression with a gesture will actually make it easier to learn that expression. You are more apt to remember a Chinese word when you say it often, write it often, sing it often and repeatedly see an object or scene or do an action involving that word. Storing the word in multiple channels, so to speak, allows it to be more readily recalled when you need it.

To try your hand at signing in Chinese, click on this link: 手牵手 (Shǒu Qiān Shǒu Hand in Hand) and follow the demonstration performed by the four Malaysian students.

牵手 (qiān shǒu) is to hold hands.
花开 (huā kāi) describes how flowers open up, or bloom. 花谢 (huā xiè) describes how flowers wither. These natural phenomena signify the change of seasons, or 季节的转移 (jìjiě de zhuǎnyí).
面对 (miànduì) is to face or to confront.
未来的 (wèilái) means future.
分离 (fēnlí) means to separate or to leave each other. It is synonymous with 分手 (fēnshǒu). Here it is used as noun (separation).
牢记 (láojì) is to keep firmly in mind.
这段 (zhè duàn) means “this section of” or “this segment of”.
记忆 (jìyì) is memory or remembrance.
朋友 (péngyǒu) are friends.
我永远祝福你. (Wǒ yǒngyuǎn zhùfú nǐ.) – I will always wish you well.
人生 (rénshēng) is life.
一定 (yīdìng) means for sure, certainly.
起落 (qǐluò) means rise and fall, or ups and downs.
不要伤心. (bùyào shāngxīn) – “Don’t feel sad.”
我会在你身边. (Wǒ huì zà nǐ shēnbiān.) – I will be by your side.
鼓励 (gǔlì) is encouragement. This word can also be used as a verb.
愿意 (yuàny) means to be willing to.
把我们的手牵在一起. (Bǎ wǒmén de shǒu qiān zài yīqǐ.) – Let’s join our hands together.
(yòng) means to use.
青春的 (qīngchūn) means youthful.
(xiě) is to write, and 奇迹 (qíjì) is a miracle.
放在一起 (fàng zài yīqǐ) means to place together.
(xīn) is the heart.
共同 (gòngtóng) means jointly.
度过 (dùguò) is to undergo or to endure.
风和雨 (fēng hé yǔ wind and rain) refers to the troubles in life.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up tomorrow. May those of you who are far away from home have friends with whom to celebrate this happy occasion.

Zhōngqiūjié kuàilè.
Have a happy Moon Festival!

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