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!

Fortuitous Encounter in Chinese

Zucchinis coming out of my ears

Zucchinis coming out of my ears

As part of my disaster preparation effort this year, I sowed quite a few zucchini seeds in the spring. Zucchinis are known to be very prolific, but at this time I’m still waiting to see the explosion of zucchini fruits to come out of my ears. Should that happen in the near future, and we have extras not consumed with our regular meals, my plan is for these nutritious summer squashes to go into the freezer, the dehydrator, the zucchini breads and, of course, my neighbors’ homes. Yep, that’s what neighbors are for. 😉

Well, today I mainly want to share with you another wonderful encounter with a cute little humming bird in my yard. Hopefully this will help you forget for a moment the disasters and turmoils currently taking place at home and abroad. (Click here to read my previous blog post about a happy encounter with a hummingbird.)

Jīntiān zǎochén wǒ zài yuán lǐ jiāoshuǐ de shíhòu,
This morning while I was watering in the garden,

yòu tīng dào fēngniǎo zhèn chì de shēngyīn.
again I heard the sound of a hummingbird flapping its wings.

Zhè huí shì yī zhǐ gèng xiǎo de fēngniǎo.
This time it was an even smaller hummingbird.

Tā xiàng mìfēng yīyàng wéirào zhe wǒ fēile yīhuǐ’er,
It flew around me like a bee for a while

ránhòu zhuǎn tóu fēi xiàng yóu shuǐ guàn sǎ chū de xì shuǐzhù,
then turned and flew toward the thin column of water from the watering can,

xīle jǐ dīshuǐ zhīhòu cái xīnrán lí qù.
and sucked a few drops of the water before departing cheerfully.

Zhēn kěxí nà shí méiyǒu lìngwài liǎng zhī shǒu
What a pity that at that time there was not another pair of hands available

kěyǐ bāng wǒ lù xià zhè qíyù.
to capture on video this fortuitous encounter for me.

浇水 (jiāoshuǐ) means watering.
(yòu) can mean once again or also.
蜂鸟 (fēngniǎo) are hummingbirds.
振翅 (zhèn chì) means to flap the wings .
(gèng) means to a greater degree or extent.
这回 (zhè huí) means this time. It has the same meaning as 这次 (zhè cì).
蜜蜂 (mìfēng) are honeybees or bees in general.
像 . . . 一样 (xiàng . . . yīyàng) means to be same as.
围绕 (wéirào) can mean to go around or to surround.
转头 (zhuǎn tóu) and 转身 (zhuǎn shēn) both mean to turn around or turn away.
(xī) is to suck or suck up.
欣然 (xīnrán) means joyfully or gladly.
可惜 (kěxī) means too bad or it’s a pity.
另外 (lìngwài) as an adjactive means some other. As a conjunctive adverb, it means moreover or in addition.
(lù) is to record or to write down.
奇遇 (qíyù) is a fortuitous encounter.

Sing “Pearly Shells” in Chinese

Picked Blackberries

Picked Blackberries

Blue, blue my world is blue – the good kind of blue from the luscious blueberries (藍莓 lán méi) and blackberries (黑莓 hēi méi) in my yard begging to be picked. Duty-bound I don a white shirt with long sleeves, grab a 1 1/2 quart plastic container and head outside. It is my responsibility to unleash my gatherer instinct and free those anxious berries from their bondage to the same old bushes under the scorching sun.

What precision it takes to pluck each and every blackberry without being poked or scratched by the vicious thorns! And what delight it is to gently roll or rub a bunch of blueberries and nudge the ripe ones into the container! It does take some nerves, though, to work alongside the honeybees (蜜蜂 mìfēng) and not be intimidated by their constant buzzes and hums. My white shirt makes me basically invisible to these flying stingers. I just need to be careful not to pick from the same bunch the bees are after. Some of them zip around at lower elevations and bump into my long trousers once in a while.

An hour or so later, I come back inside with a quart of each kind of berries, fully intending to elevate their status to velvety berry sauces, to-die-for pies, or glistening jams and jellies. Alas, that is not to be. Eager hands fall upon the berries and plop them into eager mouths. Within minutes all berries are gone.

Oh well. Anyhow it’s too hot to be in the kitchen baking, canning or, for that matter, cooking. I stretch out on my favorite chair and dream about a vacation in Hawaii (夏威夷 xiàwēiyí). I imagine myself walking barefoot along the coastline, now and then picking up a seashell to admire. I come upon a group of adorable kids singing “Pearly Shells“. I smile and say, “Aloha!”

You might try singing the first part of this cute song in Chinese by substituting the English lyrics with the following lines.

Xiǎo bèiké,láizì hǎiyáng,
Little shells that came from the ocean,

biànbù shātān shàng,
spread all over the sandy beach,

yángguāng xià fāliàng.
glisten under the sunshine.

Kànjian tāmen,
Seeing them,

wǒ xīn míngbai wǒ ài de shì nǐ
my heart knows that the one I love is you,

jǐnguǎn nàxiē bèiké yǒu duō měilì.
despite the beauty of all the pearly shells.

来自 (láizì) means to come from a place. In Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes we came across this word while singing the phrase “I come from Alabama” in the song “Oh Susanna”. We use this word more often in writing than in speaking. Colloquially you would say “The little shells came from the ocean.” as follows:

Xiǎo bèiké shì cóng hǎiyáng lái de.

明白 (míngbai) as an adjective means clear or obvious. Used as a verb, it means to know, to understand or to realize, as shown in the following example.

Xiànzài wǒ míngbai le.
Now I understand.

You probably already know that “I love you” in Chinese is 我爱你 (Wǒ ài nǐ). 我爱的是你 (Wǒ ài de shì nǐ) emphasizes the choice of the person one loves. You would use this form when there is a doubt of which person you actually love and clarification is called for. When you need to clarify your intention or what you’ve just said, you could start the sentence with 我的意思是 (Wǒ de yìsī shì I mean, or what I meant is)

尽管 (jǐnguǎn), as used here, means “even though” or “in spite of”. This word also means “feel free to (do something)”, as shown in the following example:

不要担心. 你尽管去做.
Bùyào dānxīn. Nǐ jǐnguǎn qù zuò.
Don’t worry. Go ahead and do it.

Zhù xià ān!
Have a nice summer!

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