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 and folk wisdom

Ripe Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes

Beautiful Ripened Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes

This spring, out of curiosity, I planted an interesting variety of tomato named “Indigo Rose”. The fruits maintained a deep indigo color with a green bottom until they finally matured. That was when the green portion turned orange-red. Only after I began harvesting the ripened fruits did I realize how this cultivar got its beautiful name. Why, a cute orange rose revealed itself on the tomato when I removed the tiny stem. There is no way I would let this season slip by without sharing the beauty of these tomatoes with you.

Now, what does this picture have to do with the idioms we will be talking about today? Well, here’s an idiom that is arguably relevant:

情人眼中出西施.
Qíngrén yǎn zhōng chū Xīshī.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

情人 (qíngrén) are lovers. In the lover’s eyes, the object of love compares to 西施 (Xīshī), who was touted in Chinese literature as the most flawless beauty in China.

I am halfway through reading ” Don Quijote 1 & 2 Español – English: Complete and Unabridged (Spanish Edition) “. I only read the English portion as I don’t speak Spanish, but I think this bilingual book can be very helpful for Spanish-speaking students who are learning English, or for English-speaking students who are learning Spanish because each paragraph in Spanish is followed by the corresponding paragraph in English. The conversations between the characters in this book are filled with idioms and wisecracks, and it struck me how so much of the same folk wisdom sprang up independently within different cultures.

Some Chinese refer to Don Quixote as 唐吉诃德 (táng jí hē dé). In Don Quixote’s imagination, Dulcinea was the 西施 (Xīshī), even though he had never set eyes on her. Such was the power of “pure and chaste” admiration from afar.

Following are a few idioms and sayings selected from the above-mentioned book, accompanied by their Chinese equivalent.

“a heart of marble”

铁石心肠
Tiěshíxīncháng
heart of iron and stone

“The wheel of fortune turns faster than a mill-wheel.”

风水轮流转
fēngshuǐ lúnliu zhuàn
Every dog has his day.

轮流 (lúnliu) means to take turns, such as while playing a card game. Good fortune does not always stay with the same people. This means you might get your turn yet.

“One devil is like another.”

天下乌鸦一般黑
Tiānxiàwūyāyībānhēi
Evil people are bad all the world over.
(All ravens are black.)

“Let us not throw the rope after the bucket.”

无济于事 or 无补于事
Wújìyúshì or wúbǔyúshì
of no avail

济 (jì) means to be of help or to benefit.
补 (bǔ) means to mend, repair, supply, make up for, nourish, or help.

“to have companion in trouble gives some relief”

同病相怜
Tóngbìngxiānglián
Fellow sufferers commiserate with each other.

“If the blind lead the blind, both are in danger of falling into the pit.”

盲人骑瞎马
Mángrén qí xiā mǎ
A blind man riding on a blind horse (heading to disaster)

“As we have loaves, let’s not go looking for cakes.”

知足长乐
Zhīzú cháng lè
Be contented with your lot and you will stay happy.

Please note that 足 (zú) has several meanings: foot, leg, sufficient, enough, ample, satisfied. 手足 (shǒuzú hands and feet) refers to brothers.

“come for wool and go back shorn”
偷鸡不得失把米.
Tōu jī bùdé shī bǎ mǐ.
Failed in attempting to to steal the chicken and lost a handful of rice in the process.

“Love has no greater enemy than hunger and constant want.”

爱情不能当面包.
Àiqíng bùnéng dāng miànbāo.
Love cannot not quell hunger like bread.

“All comparisons are odious.”

人比人气死人.
Rénbǐrén, qìsǐrén.
Comparing yourself with others will only make you angry.

“Tell me what company thou keepest and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”

物以类聚.
Wùyǐlèijù.
Like attracts like. (Birds of a feather flock together.)

“He who’s prepared has his battle half fought.”

有备无患
Yǒubèiwúhuàn
Preparedness averts peril.

准备 (zhǔnbèi) means to prrpare, or preparation.

我们要预先做好准备.
wǒmén yào yùxiān zuò hǎo zhǔnbèi.
We should make preparation beforehand.

This is particularly true when you have a test to take, or when the electric power might go out.

Now, let’s watch a video clip of “The Impossible Dream” (不可能实现的梦想 Bùkěnéng shíxiàn de mèngxiǎng) How can one help falling in love with such a beautiful melody, such as marvelous voice and such a brilliant performance?

By the way, if you have little ones, they might enjoy the Chinese nursery rhyme for counting frogs.

Chinese idioms involving the dog

Puppy Figurine

If you forgot to make a New Year’s resolution, now is your chance to make a Chinese New Year’s resolution. My resolution this year is to complete one of the books that have been sitting on my back burner for years. This one is a cookbook for people who are prone to the migraine disease. If you are a fellow migraineur, stay tuned. Hopefully the Year of the Dog will lend me the required energy to get this e-book out soon.

Speaking of dogs, the very first song my mother taught me when I was little had these lines:

一只哈巴狗
Yī zhī hǎbagǒu
A Pekingese dog

蹲在大门口
dūn zài dàmén kǒu
squats at the front entrance,

眼睛黑黝黝
yǎnjing hēiyōuyōu
with eyes shiny black,

想吃肉骨头
xiǎng chī ròu gútou
wanting to eat a meaty bone.

Dogs, or 狗 (gǒu), have been man’s best friend for about 3300 years. However, they have received mixed reviews in regards to their personality. Their unparalleled loyalty, or 忠诚度 (zhōngchéng dù), and capacity for love make them heart-winning house pets, or 宠物 (chǒngwù). On the other hand, when their mean streaks surface, they are cute no more, and in both English and Chinese the word “dog” also equates to “damned” or “cursed”. Therefore there are quite a few commonly used Chinese idioms that do not feature dogs in the best light.

In general, keeping a dog in a home is regarded as auspicious. When you learn of a friend’s adopting a pet dog, you could congratulate him or her by saying:

狗来福.
Gǒu lái fú.
Dog comes and brings good fortune.

Dogs have much keener sense of smell, sight and hearing than human beings. They can protect a family by barking or yapping at strangers. It is believed that they are able to tell the good guys from the bad as well as the rich and powerful from the poor and dejected. When someone puts you down, you are apt to think:

哼! 狗眼看人低!
Hng! Gǒuyǎnkànrén dī!
Humph! What a snob (like a dog)!

Sometimes the dog makes a mistake, as in the following story. 呂洞賓 (Lǚ Dòngbīn) was a scholar in the Tang Dynasty. He was well known for his studies in Taoism, medicine and various other subject matters as well as his kind heart. People ranked him among one of the eight great immortals of that time. It came to pass that one day Lǚ saw a starving dog. Out of sympathy, he gave the dog the dumpling that he was eating. The dog devoured the dumpling, but turned around and bit Lǚ. If someone ill rewards your kindness, you could tell others about it by using this saying:

狗咬呂洞賓, 不识好人心.
Ggǒuyǎolǚdòngbīn, bù shì hǎorén xīn.
Dog bites Lǚ Dòngbīn; can’t recognize a good heart when it sees one.

Often a dog will threaten people on the strength of its master’s power. 狗仗人勢 (Gǒuzhàngrénshì) means to bully someone under the protection of a powerful superior.

Now, if a dog bothers you, but it has a powerful master, or if the dog’s master is your friend, you would think twice before hitting the dog. The following idiom teaches you to look at the bigger picture instead of reacting hastily in some situations.

打狗看主人.
Dǎ gǒu kàn zhǔrén.
Mind whose dog it is before you strike.

Like a cornered dog, a person who has run out of resources might do something desperate. 狗急跳牆 (gǒujítiàoqiáng) means that, in a dire situation, a dog could jump over a wall.

Literally 打落水狗 (dǎluòshuǐgǒu) is to beat a drowning dog. Figuratively it means to deal a blow to a person who has lost power or favor, or to completely crush a defeated enemy.

If you made an inexcusable blunder at your job, your boss might level a stream of abusive language at you. This is likened to a jet of dog blood sprayed onto your head, as in:

老板把我骂了个狗血噴頭.
Lǎobǎn bǎ wǒ mà le gè gǒuxuěpēntóu.
The boss gave me a piece of his mind.

People who love to advise others but only have inept or even bad advice to offer are referred to as 狗頭軍師 (gǒutóujūnshī). 军师 (jūnshī) is a military counsellor.

The following expressions involve the dog plus another animal.

狗咬耗子 (gǒu yǎo hàozi) translates to: “Dog bites rat.” It refers to people meddling in other people’s affairs, which are none of their business.

If someone, for whom you have little regard, utters crude language, offers useless advice, or writes a mediocre article, you might make this disparaging remark to a third party:

狗嘴里长不出象牙.
Gǒu zuǐ li zhǎng bù chū xiàngyá.
A dog’s mouth can’t grow ivory.
(What can a dog do but bark?)

挂羊头卖狗肉 (guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu) means to display a goat’s head but sell dog meat, in other words, to bait and switch.

狐群狗党 (húqúngǒudǎng) refers to a gang of scoundrels (compared to foxes and wild dogs). 群 (qún) is a group of people, a crowd or a heard of animals. 党 (dǎng) usually refers to a political party.

You might describe a cold-blooded or unscrupulous person as having a wolf’s heart and a dog’s lungs, as in 狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi).

偷鸡摸狗 (tōu jī mō gǒu) means to engage in petty dishonest activities, such as stealing or having extra-marital affairs. 偷 (tōu) is to steal, pilfer or to be on the sly. 摸 (mō) is to feel or touch.

In traditional Chinese families, people are of the opinion that a daughter who has been married off must stick with her husband regardless of what kind of person he is. Remember that in earlier times, marriages were arranged by the parents, and Chinese women did not have a choice of whom they married.

嫁雞隨雞,嫁狗隨狗.
Jià jī suí jī, jià gǒu suí gǒu.
If you married a chicken, follow the chicken,
and if you married a dog, follow the dog.

It is interesting to note that the original saying goes like this:

嫁乞随乞,嫁叟随叟.
Jià qǐ suí qǐ, jià sǒu suí sǒu.
If you married a beggar, follow the beggar,
and if you married an old man, follow the old man.

No matter which way the saying is phrased, it teaches the women to 认命 (rènmìng), i.e. to accept their fate and try to work out the differences to keep the marriage in harmony. I think that goes for men as well.

Yeah, check out Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes
to learn additional Chinese expressions, idioms and sayings.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrén Jié kuàilè!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

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