Sing Aloha Oe in Chinese

One of the meanings of the word (bié) is to leave or to part. The “knife” radical on the right-hand side signifies the separation.

离别 (líbié) and 别离 (biélí) both mean to leave or to part for a long period of time.

告别 (gàobié) and 辞别 (cíbié) mean to take leave of, to say good-bye or to bid farewell.

拜别 (bàibié) is to respectively say good-bye or bid farewell.

送别 (sòngbié) is to see someone off. 送别晚会 (sòngbié wǎnhuì) is a send-off soiree.

告辞 (gàocí) is to take leave of one’s host. On the other hand, 不辞而别 (bùcíérbié) is to leave without bidding good-bye.

Wǒ bùnéng lǐjiě tā wèishénme bùcíérbié.
I cannot comprehend why he took off without saying good-bye.

“Farewell to Thee” is a world-renowned song composed by Queen Liliuokalano. It expresses the sentiments of parting with a loved one who lives in a bautiful place that is Hawaii.

Have you wondered why Hawaii is called 夏威夷 (Xiàwēiyí) in Chinese when (xià summer) sounds quite different from “Ha”? Well, in earlier days, many overseas Chinese were Cantonese, and in the Cantonese dialect the “x” pinyin sound is pronounced like “h”, and (xià) is pronounced “ha”.

We’ve been singing “Aloha Oe” in Chinese since grade school, but I have not been able to find out who the translator was. Although the wording is different from the original lyrics, the Chinese version also aptly portrays the reluctance, the acceptance and the hope at play while bidding farewell to a dear friend. At this link is the song sung by a group of middle school students. I think you will appreciate their clear enunciation of the Chinese lyrics.

绵绵 (miánmián) describes a soft continuous mass. (mì) means dense, thick, fine or secret. Here it refers to the thick clouds. Some versions of the lyrics start out with 浓密密 (nóng mì mì), which also means thick and dense.

乌云 (wūyún) are dark clouds.
(duī) is to pile up. (mǎn) means full of. 堆满 (duī mǎn) describes how the dense dark clouds are piled on on the mountaintop, or 山顶 (shāndǐng).

笼罩著 (lǒngzhào zhe) means enveloping or shrouding. The object of this action are the woods, or 树林 (shùlín).

山谷中 (shāngǔ zhōng) means in the valley.

吹来 (chuī lái) means blowing or wafting towards the observer.

凄凉的 (qīliáng de) means desolate, dreary, sad. 微风 (wēifēng) is a gentle breeze.

激动起 (jīdòng qǐ) means to rouse up or to incite.

(sī ) means thoughts. In formal Chinese it also acts as the verb “to think”. (qíng) are feelings and emotions. 别思 (bié sī) and 离情 (lí qíng) both refer to the thoughts and emotions at parting.

珍重 (zhēnzhòng) means to take good care of yourself and stay well, and 再见 (zàijiàn) is good-bye.

亲爱的朋友 (qīnài de péngyǒu) means dear friend or dear friends.

就在眼前 (jiù zài yǎnqián) means right before one’s eyes, or right at this moment.

从今以后 (cóngjīnyǐhòu) means starting from today.

Here, (dào) means until. 下次 (xiàcì) is next time. 相见 (xiàng jiàn) is to see each other. (qián) means before or in front of.

会感到 (huì gǎndào) means “we will feel”. 心酸 (xīnsuān) means heart ache. The use of (huì) as an auxiliary verb has been mentioned in several articles at this blog site and is discussed in Chapter 16 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

How to dance to this song? Click on this link to watch the lovely hula dance performed by Punihei Anthony.

Chinese Word for Freedom

Freedom Stamp

At the end of a muggy day, we are finally rewarded with a few cool breezes, followed by a welcome offer for refreshment.

Nǐ yào chī xīguā háishì tiánguā?
Would you like to eat watermelon or muskmelon?

Both sound good to me, and the choice is mine to make. 自由 (zìyóu) means freedom, liberty, unrestrained, or freely.

Wǒ yǒu zìyóu xuǎnzé de quánlì.
I have the right to free choice.

I think of those people who are not so fortunate. Through various characters in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin“, the author Harriet Beecher Stowe tried to help us see the importance of a man’s basic right to freedom. It’s true that many of the colored slaves were treated almost like family, but still, their activities and fates were totally controlled by their masters. Generally the wellbeing or misery of the slaves depended entirely on the kindness or cruelty of their owners. They saw no hope for freedom or autonomy in this world. They could only long for a “better land” that Stephen Collins Foster referred to in his “Old Black Joe”. I’ll share with you the version of this song my father taught me when I was about six years old. I think he did this Chinese translation himself. The lines are different from what you will find when you search the Internet for 老黑奴 (Lǎo Hēi Nú), 老黑乔 (Lǎo Hēi Qiáo) or 老黑爵 (Lǎo Hēi Jué).

Suìyuè bù liú.
Years go by;

nándé qīngnián xīn shuǎngkuai.
The joy of youthful heart won’t stay.

Xǔduō péngyǒu
Many of my friends,

líbié hòu rújīn hézài?
after parting, where are they nowadays?

Chāotuō chénshì,
Risen above this mortal life,

qù dào tiāntáng de lètǔ.
they’ve gone to heaven’s happy place
(i.e. paradise).

Wǒ tīngwén tāmen róu shēng hūhuàn:
I hear them gently calling:

Lǎo hēi nú.
“Old black slave.”

Wǒ lái liǎo,
I’m coming,

Wǒ lái liǎo,
I’m coming.

Zǒu jìn shì jiàn qíqū lù.
I’ve plodded life’s rugged ways.

Wǒ tīngwén tāmen róu shēng hūhuàn:
I hear them gently calling:

Lǎo Hēi Nú.
“Old black slave.”

难得 (nándé) means hard to come by, or “It’s a rare occasion that . . .”.

Nándé nǐ lái kàn wǒ.
What a rare occasion that you have come to visit me!
(This could be uttered either with grateful joy or with sarcasm.)

Back to the present day, I’m finishing up on reading “The Good Food Revolution“, a book co-authored by Will Allen and Charles Wilson. I’m sure Mrs. Stowe would be very pleased to see that the oppressed people she wrote about are enjoying not only liberty but also the awareness that they, like everybody else, are entitled to the freedom of choice on growing and eating wholesome foods.

Měiguó guóqìng rì kuàilè!
Have a Happy July 4th!

Měiguó dúlì jìniànrì kuàilè!
Happy Independence Day!

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