Sing Oh, Shenandoah in Chinese

Today we will sing a traditional American folk song in Chinese. Below, on the right side, you will find one version of the lyrics to this song. On the left side is my translation notated with pinyin.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多想念你. I long to hear you.
Wǒ duō xiǎngniàn nǐ.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多想见你. I long to see you.
Wǒ duō xiǎngjiàn nǐ.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我多么爱她. I love your daughter.
Wǒ duōme ài tā.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
我会带她 I’ll take her ‘cross
Wǒ huì dài tā
平安地回家. Your rollin’ water.
Píng’ān dì huí jiā.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

这七年多, ‘Tis seven years,
Zhè qī nián duō,
我四处漂泊. I’ve been a rover,
Wǒ sìchù piāobó.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
等我回来, When I return,
Děng wǒ huílái,
当履行承诺. I’ll be your lover.
Dāng lǚ xíng chéngnuò.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我必须离去. I’m bound to leave you.
Wǒ bìxū lí qù.
再会! 涛涛的大河! Away! You rolling river!
Zàihuì! Tāo tāo de dà hé!
噢, 泄南多啊! Oh Shenandoah,
Ō, xiè nán duō a!
我不会负义. I’ll not deceive you.
Wǒ bù huì fù yì.
再会!来日再会! Away, I’m bound away
Zàihuì! Lái rì zàihuì!
遥念于密苏里. ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Yáo niàn yú Mìsūlǐ.

河 ( hé ) is a river. A small stream or brook would be called 溪 (xī). 涛涛 (tāo tāo) describes the rolling waves.
想念 (xiǎngniàn) means to miss someone. 遥远 (yáoyuǎn) means faraway. Therefore, 遥念 (yáo niàn) means to miss someone from afar.
再会 (zàihuì) and 再见(zàijiàn) are interchangeable. Both mean “See you again.”.
来日 (lái rì) means someday in the future. The Chinese idiom 来日方长 (Láirìfāngcháng) means there will be another day for that.
平安地 (píng’ān di) means safely.
回家 (huí jiā) means to go home or come hom.
四处漂泊 (sìchù piāobó) is to wonder around.
履行承诺 (lǚ xíng chéngnuò) is to fulfill one’s promise.

The Chinese idiom 忘恩负义 (wàng’ēnfùyì) is used for accusing someone of being ungrateful and turning one’s back in return.

七月四日快乐!
Qīyuè sìrì kuàilè!
Happy July 4th!

Qualities of a Great Father in Chinese

爸爸 (bàba) or 爹 (diē) is to 父亲 (fùqin) as papa or dad is to father. 父 (fù) is one of the radicals of Chinese characters, but there aren’t many characters in this group.

It used to be that being a good father meant being a good provider for the family. Nowadays that has become the minimum requirement. A great deal more is expected of a father in modern days. Let’s see how we can phrase it in Chinese. Please pay special attention to the four-character idioms that I’ve highlighted below.

他努力工作以确保一家的温饱.
Tā nǔlì gōngzuò yǐ quèbǎo yījiā de wēnbǎo.
He works hard to ensure the food and clothing of the family.

他爱他的妻子和孩子们.
Tā ài tā de qīzi hé háizi men.
He loves his wife and children.

他不重男轻女.
Tā bù chóng nán qīng nǚ.
He does not favor his sons over his daughters.

他的思想开明,有同理心.
Tā de sīxiǎng kāimíng, yǒu tóng lǐ xīn.
He is open-minded and shows empathy.

他是孩子们的良師益友.
Tā shì háizimen de liángshīyìyǒu.
He is a good teacher and a helpful friend to his children.

他乐意花时间教导儿女, 同他们游戏与沟通.
Tā lèyì huā shíjiān jiàodǎo érnǚ, tóng tāmen yóuxì yǔ gōutōng.
He is willing to spend time teaching his children, playing and communicating with them.

以身作则, 并且耐心矫正儿女的过错.
Tā yǐshēnzuòzé, bìngqiě nàixīn jiǎozhèng er nǚ de guòcuò.
He leads by example, and patiently corrects the faults of his children.

他注重健康, 奉公守法, 热心助人.
Tā zhùzhòng jiànkāng, fènggōngshǒufǎ, rèxīn zhùrén.
He pays attention to health, obeys the law, and is enthusiastic about helping others.

他诚恳, 正直, 值得信赖.
Tā chéngkěn, zhengzhi, zhide xinlai.
HHe is sincere, upright and trustworthy.

他尊重儿女对于宗教, 职业以及配偶的选择.
Tā zūnzhòng érnǚ duìyú zōngjiào,zhíyè yǐjí pèi’ǒu de xuǎnzé.
He respects his children’s choice of religion, career and spouse.

Thinking back, I feel truly grateful to have been blessed with a wonderful father. How I miss him!

祝父亲节快乐!
Zhù fùqīn jié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Father’s Day!

As it happens to be Dragon Boat Festival 端午节 (duānwǔjié) today, you might be interested in watching how the special glutinous rice dumpling is prepared in this video. You can read the associated blog post here.

I Love You Truly in Chinese

Valentines

Valentines

While attending college, I once found myself in a classroom with just one other classmate in it. He suddenly asked me, “If you like a girl and don’t know what to say to her, what should you do?” Not knowing where he was coming from, and not knowing better, I offered the logical answer, “Just don’t say anything.” Now that I am older and wiser, albeit still having miles ahead to catch up with Ann Landers, I think I should have advised him to try to strike up a simple conversation about something innocuous. While there are people who are naturally sociable and make friends easily, there are just as many who find it hard to take the first step to break the ice. Thus, regrets for missed opportunities. You could compare this with a job application. If you don’t send out the application letter, the chance of getting that job is nil. If you sent in your application but didn’t land the job, it means this job is not meant for you. Try another one. Having a life companion does not guarantee happiness, but if you wish to share your life with someone, then by all means find someone compatible to love and cherish. As the song “Some Enchanted Evening” goes, “Once you have found her, never let her go.” Otherwise, “all through your life, you may dream all alone.”

The Chinese word for love as a noun is (àiqíng) or  (ài) .  (ài) can also be used as a verb. “我爱你. (Wǒ ài nǐ.)” is likely one of the first Chinese sentences you’ve learned. If you truly love someone, then you could add the word 真心 (zhēnxīn), which means wholehearted or wholeheartedly. To profess your unwavering love to someone far away, you could write:

天長地久, 此情不渝.
Tiānchángdìjiǔ cǐ qíng bù yú.
Like the everlasting heaven and earth, this love will never change.

When talking about length, the Chinese word for “long” is (cháng); when talking about duration in time, the Chinese word for “long” is (jiǔ). However, (cháng) can be used as an adjective to describe the length of a time period.

我等了很久.
Wǒ děng le hěn jiǔ
I waited for quite a while.

我等了一段很長的時間.
Wǒ děng le yī duàn hěn cháng de shíjiān.
I waited for a long period of time.

Following are the lyrics to the sentimental song “I Love You Truly”.

I love you truly, truly, dear.
Life with its sorrow, life with its tears
Fades into dream when I feel you are near,
For I love you truly, truly, dear.

我真心爱你, 此情不渝.
Wǒ zhēnxīn ài nǐ, cǐ qíng bù yú.
I love you truly, this heart will never change.

人生的痛苦和忧虑,
Rénshēng de tòngkǔ hé bēi qī
The pain and cares of life

梦中相会时就都消去.
Mèng zhōng xiānghuì shí jiù dōu xiāoqù.
All disappear when we meet in dreams.

我是真心爱你, 此情不渝.
Wǒ zhēnxīn ài nǐ, cǐ qíng bù yú.
I do love you truly, this heart will never change.

At this link is a video featuring another love song “Down in the Valley” in Chinese. The lyrics are discussed in Chapter 13 of the book “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrénjié kuàilè!
Happy Valentines Day!

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.

Learn the Chinese word for pain

Migraine Cookbook
偏頭疼食譜

Voilà! I’ve just published the ebook titled “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way“. I wrote the manuscript quite a while ago and only in the past couple years had the time to take pictures for the featured recipes. During this time, many new studies and researches have been done on migraines, but a full understanding of this disorder still eludes us. In “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way” I summarize my experience and what I have learned about this disease. An important point is that certain groups of food trigger migraines, and eliminating those foods from your diet will help prevent the onset of a migraine attack. How to make tasty dishes without calling on bacon, sausages, milk and cheese? The answer can be found in the over one hundred recipes included in this ebook, which show you how to make dishes of food that you as well as the other members of your family can enjoy. You can find this book at amazon.com and  various other digital stores and read it on these devices: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Tolino. In case you do not have any of these devices, you could still read the ebook on your PC. If you would like to know how to make a delicious Egg Flower Soup, or 蛋花汤 (dànhuātāng), you are welcome to read my blog at https://tamemigraine.wordpress.com.

The migraine disorder exhibits itself in a variety of symptoms in various parts of the body. The most prominent symptom is a throbbing, pounding headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. This is why in Chinese it is called 偏头疼 (piān tóuténg).

(piān) means inclined or deviated to one side. Therefore, having a biased mind is called 偏心 (piānxīn). If the teacher favors a certain student, the other students are sure to sense it and complain amongst themselves:

老師偏心; 這不公平.
Lǎoshī piānxīn; zhè bùgōngping.
The teacher shows favoritism; it’s not fair.

The two most commonly used words for pain and aches in Chiese are (téng) and (tòng). Often these characters are combined into one word: 疼痛 (téngtòng pain, ache, soreness).

Pain can occur in different parts of your body. So, 牙痛 (yátòng) is a toothache. 头疼 (tóuténg) or 头痛 (tóutòng) is having a headache, and 脚痛 (jiǎo tòng) ) means the foot hurts. And 头痛医头, 脚痛医脚. (Tóutòngyītóujiǎotòngyījiǎo.) means to treat the symptoms but not the illness, i.e. not getting to the root cause of a problem.

Same as with English, 头疼 (tóuténg) and 头痛 (tóutòng) can also refer to a figurative headache.

這真是一件令人头痛的事.
Zhè zhēnshì yī jiàn lìngrén tóutòng de shì.
This is truly a bothersome matter.

If you have a health problem with your heart, and you feel pain in the chest, you would say, “我心脏痛. (Wǒ xīnzàng tòng.” or “我胸口疼. (Wǒ xiōngkǒu téng.)”

On the other hand, if you love a child dearly, if you feel discressed, or if you feel sorry for someone, you would use the word 心疼 (xīnténg). For example,

她最心疼她的大女儿.
Tā zuì xīnténg tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

Another way to say it is:

她最疼愛她的大女儿.
Tā zuì téng’ai tā de dà nǚ’ér.
She loves her oldest daughter the most.

他的儿子不愿继承他的事业; 他万分心疼.
Tā de érzi bù yuàn jìchéng tā de shìyè; tā wànfēn xīnténg.
His son is unwilling to carry on his enterprise; he is extremely distressed.

In this sense, 心疼 (xīnténg) is equivalent to 痛苦 (tòngkǔ to feel pain or agony).

他忘掉了以往痛苦的日子.
Tā wàngdiào le yǐwǎng tòngkǔ de rìzi.
He forgot those painful days in the past.

他陷入无限的痛苦之中.
Tā xiànrù wúxiàn de tòngkǔ zhī zhòng.
He fell into a pit of infinite suffering.

悲痛 (bēitòng) means grief, grieved, sorrow or sorrowful.

忍痛 (rěntóng) means to endure pain. Figuratively it meas to do something very reluctantly.

The word (tòng) also serves as the abbreviation for 痛快 (tòngkuài), which means straightforward, to one’s heart’s content or to one’s great satisfaction. Therefore, 痛斥 (tòngchì) means to chide bitterly, and 痛哭 (tòngkū) is to wail or cry one’s heart out. In these cases, (tòng) is not directly associated with pain.

我們到了台北之後, 要痛快地吃一頓.
Wǒmén dàole Táiběi zhīhòu, yào tòngkuài de chī yī dùn.
When we get to Taipei, we are determined to have a hearty feast.

As for “pain” in the sense of “effort”, the Chinese word is 努力 (nǔlì), and not (tòng). This is how you would say “No pain, no gain” in Chinese:

一分耕耘一分收获.
Yī fēn gēngyún yī fēn shōuhuò.

耕耘 (gēngyún) is to cultivate the field by ploughing and weeding. 收获 (shōuhuò) is to gather in the crop. Therefore, one is expected to harvest or profit in proportion to the effort one has put in.

 

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