Great Mothers in Chinese History

Flowering Tree in Spring

In the proverb “Behind every great man there is a great woman.”, the woman referred to is the wife of the great man. Throughout the human history, we can find countless instances to support the fact that behind every great person there is a great mother.

In particular, a number of outstanding mothers in Chinese history have been placed on a pedestal for all to admire. These women did not spoil their children, but rather taught them discipline and planted in their minds sound moral principles. We will talk about one of them today. You should be able to follow this story without much difficulty, as the English translation closely parallels the Chinese text.

在中國, 孟子通常被稱為亞聖.
Zài zhōngguó, Mèngzǐ tōngcháng bèi chēng wèi Yàshèng.
In China, Mencius is often referred to as the Second Sage.
(Confucius is regarded as the Great Sage.)

他相信人性根本上是善良的.
Tā xiāngxìn rénxìng gēnběn shàng shì shànliáng de.
He believed that human nature is fundamentally good.

孟子的母親把住所搬到一所學校的附近,
Mèngzǐ de mǔqīn bǎ zhùsuǒ bān dào yī suǒ xuéxiào de fùjìn,
Mensius’ mother moved their residence to be near a school,

希望使他對學習感興趣.
xīwàng shǐ tā duì xuéxí gǎn xìngqù.
in the hope of getting him interested in studying.

俗話說: “近朱者赤,近墨者黑.”
Súhuà shuō: “Jìnzhūzhěchì, jìnmòzhěhēi.”
As the saying goes, “One takes on the character of one’s company or environment.”
(Those involved with red dye get stained red; those involved with ink get stained black.)

有一天,孟子从他的房间出来时,
Yǒu yītiān, Mèngzǐ cóng tā de fángjiān chūlái shí,
One day, when Mencius came out of his room,

他的母亲正在织一块布.
Tā de mǔqīn zhèngzài zhī yīkuài bù.
his mother was weaving a piece of cloth.

母亲问他: “你的功课做好了吗?”
Mǔqīn wèn tā: “Nǐ de gōngkè zuò hǎole ma?”
She asked him, “Have you finished your homework?”

孟子回答:”还没有,但是我想去外面玩耍.”
Mèngzǐ huídá: “Hái méiyǒu, dànshì wǒ xiǎng qù wàimiàn wánshuǎ.”
Mencius replied, “Not yet, but I want to go play outside.”

母亲听了, 拿起一把大剪刀,
Mǔqīn tīngle, ná qǐ yī bǎ dà jiǎndāo,
Upon hearing this, the mother grabbed a large pair of scissors,

剪断了织布机上正在织的布.
jiǎn duàn le zhī bù jī shàng zhèngzài zhī de bù.
and cut the fabric she was weaving on the loom.

孟子大吃一惊.
Mèngzǐ dàchīyījīng.
Mencius was taken aback.

他问母亲为什么要破坏费力织成的布.
Tā wèn mǔqīn wèishéme yào pòhuài fèilì zhī chéng de bù.
He asked mother why she destroyed the laboriously woven fabric.

母亲回答: “这就像你荒废学业, 半途而废.
Mǔqīn huídá:“Zhè jiù xiàng nǐ huāngfèi xuéyè, bàntú’érfèi.
The mother replied, “This is just like your neglecting your studies and giving it up halfway.

这样, 你会一事无成.”
Zhèyàng, nǐ huì yīshìwúchéng.”
This way you will get nowhere.”

孟子深为感动, 牢记在心.
Mèngzǐ shēn wéi gǎndòng, láojì zàixīn.
Mencius was deeply moved and took this advice to heart.

他刻苦学习,成为 了 中国最受尊敬的学者之一.
Tā kèkǔ xuéxí, chéngwéi le zhōngguó zuì shòu zūnjìng de xuézhě zhī yī.
He studied hard and became one of the most respected scholars in China.

You can find additional anecdotes, rhymes and lyrics in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to help increase your proficiency in Chinese.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!
母亲节快乐!
Mǔqīnjié kuàilè!

Locations in Chinese

Locations, locations, locations. When it comes to renting an apartment or purchasing a house, an important consideration is the location. Like Mencius’ mother, parents want to select a decent and safe neighborhood for their children. Also, homeowners believe that a nice neighborhood will help ensure a good resale price for their house. So it is that a tiny old 公寓 (gōngyù apartment) in a good area, or 好的地区 (hǎo de dìqū), could cost many times more than a brand new 房子 (fángzi house) elsewhere that comes complete with a double-garage and a large backyard.

他住在城里.
Tā zhù zài chénglǐ.
He lives in town.

我喜欢住郊外
Wǒ xǐhuān zhù jiāowài.
I like to live in the suburbs.

你喜欢住哪儿?
Nǐ xǐhuān zhù nǎr?
Where would you like to live?.

Following are a few choices:

靠近超级市场 (kàojìn chāojíshìchǎng) close to the supermarket
在医院附近 (zài yīyuàn fùjìn) in the vicinity of the hospital
在公园旁边 (zài gōngyuán pángbiān) by the park
在学校对面 (zài xuéxiào duìmiàn) across the street from the school
在高楼大厦 (zài gāolóudàshà) in a high-rise building
在市区 (zài shìqū) in the urban district
在市中心 (zài shìzhōngxīn) down-town
高级住宅区 (gāojí zhùzháiqū) uptown district
在东区 (zài dōng qū) in the eastern sector
靠近海边 (kàojìn hǎibiān) by the ocean
在山坡上 (zài shānpō shàng) on the mountain side
在乡下 (zài xiāngxià) on the countryside
房价便宜的地方 (fáng jià piányi de dìfang) a place with inexpensive quarters
远离铁路的地方 (yuǎnlí tiělù de dìfang) a place far from the railroad
人口稀少的地方 (rénkǒu xīshǎo de dìfang) scarcely populated area
太平洋的小岛上 (tàipíngyáng de xiǎo dǎo shàng) on an island in the Pacific Ocean

Answers to the “where?” questions involve adverbs and adverbial phrases or clauses. Following are a couple additional examples:

广场前面有一株大树.
Guǎngchǎng qiánmiàn yǒu yī zhū dà shù.
There is a large tree in front of the public square.

老师在黑板上面写了三个字.
Lǎoshī zài hēibǎn shàngmiàn xiě le sān gè zì.
The teacher wrote three words on the blackboard.

Please review “17. When? Where? How?” in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

To pinpoint the exact coordinates, or 坐标 (zuòbiāo), of where you are, you could make use of a 卫星定位系统 (wèixīng dìngwèi xìtǒng Geographic Positioning System, or GPS). Whereas clairvoyance, or 千里眼 (qiānlǐyǎn), was once monopolized by fictional characters, nowadays anyone could easily get a 3-D view of any place, even thousands of miles away, by making use of a software program like Google Maps(TM). It’s a small world indeed.

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