How to say Halloween in Chinese?

Witch flying on broom

NYC, here I come!

Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day. In Chinese, it is called 万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié), or ten thousand saints’ festival, which is not generally observed in Asian countries. In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, those who have passed away are remembered at the Night of the Ghosts, or 中元節 (zhōngyuán jié), which falls the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.

As you know, 巫婆 (wūpó witches), 妖怪 (yāoguài monsters, demons) and carved pumpkins, or 南瓜 (nánguā), feature prominently at Halloween.

Memory took me back to Halloween a few years ago when I had to take a red-eye flight to New York City on business.

万圣节那天下午,我去雜貨店買了一支旅行用的牙膏.
Wàn Shèng Jié nàtiān xiàwǔ, wǒ qù záhuò diàn mǎile yī zhī lǚxíng yòng de yágāo.
That afternoon on Halloween Day I went to the grocers to buy a travel-size tube of toothpaste.

因為我的舊掃帚已經用壞了,
Yīnwei wǒ de jiù sàozhǒu yǐjīng yòng huài le,
As my old broom had been worn out,

我也順便買了一支新的掃帚.
wǒ yě shùnbiàn mǎile yī zhī xīn de sàozhǒu.
I also grabbed a new broom.

結帳時店員好意地問我,
Jié zhàng shí, diànyuán hǎoyì dì wèn wǒ,
At the checkout stand the friendly clerk asked me,

“你今天晚上準備做些什麼?”
Nǐ jīntiān wǎnshàng zhǔnbèi zuò xiē shénme?
“What are you planning to do tonight?”

我回答說, “我今天晚上要飛到紐約去.”
Wǒ huídá shuō, “Wǒ jīntiān wǎnshàng yào fēi dào Niǔyuē qù.”
I replied, “I’m flying to New York tonight.”

他看了我的掃帚一眼,
Tā kànle wǒ de sàozhǒu yīyǎn,
He eyed my broom for a moment,

然後帶著將信將疑的微笑說,
ránhòu dàizhe jiāngxìnjiāngyí de wéixiào shuō,
and then said with an incredulous smile,

“哦, 是嗎?”
” Ó, shì ma?”
“Oh, yeah?”

我後悔當時沒有也買了一頂黑色的有尖頂的巫婆帽.
Wǒ hòuhuǐ dāngshí méiyǒu yě mǎile yī dǐng hēisè de yǒu jiāndǐng de wūpó mào.
I regret not having also picked up a black witch hat with a pointed top.

万圣节快乐!
Wànshèngjié kuàilè!
Happy Halloween!

How to say “I understand” in Chinese

The highest reward for an instructor is to have helped a student thoroughly understand the material conveyed. There are a number of ways to acknowledge that you have understood a statement or a subject matter. Study the following sentences to get a feel of the different shades of meaning in the various expressions.

(dǒng) means to understand, to have knowledge about a subject, or to know how to do something.

你懂中文吗?
Nǐ dǒng zhōngwén ma?
Do you know the Chinese language?

我懂中文.
Wǒ dǒng zhōngwén.
I know Chinese.

你懂吗?
Nǐ dǒng ma?
Do you understand?

我懂.
Wǒ dǒng.
I understand.

你听得懂吗?
Nǐ tīng de dǒng ma?
Are you able to understand what is being said?

我听得懂.
Wǒ tīng de dǒng.
I am able to understand what is being said.

你懂了吗?
Nǐ dǒng le ma?
Did you get it?

我懂了.
Wǒ dǒng le.
I got it.

The last sentence above indicates a state of completion. Please review the verb tenses in Chapter 15 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

了解 (liǎojiě) means to understand or to comprehend completely.

他最了解我.
Tā zuì liǎojiě wǒ.
He understands me the best.

理解 (lǐjiě) means to understand the sense or logic of something. 不能理解 (bùnéng lǐjiě) means unable to make sense of.

我不能理解他的作为.
Wǒ bùnéng lǐjiě tā de zuòwéi.
I cannot understand his conduct.

明白 (míngbai) as an adjective means clear, plain or obvious. As a verb, it means to understand, to know or to realize.

现在我完全明白了.
Xiànzài wǒ wánquán míngbai le.
Now I totally understand.

清楚 (qīngchǔ) means distinct, clear or obvious. As a verb, it means to understand clearly. 弄清楚 (nòng qīngchǔ) or 搞清楚 (gǎo qīngchǔ) is to find out more about something to figure it out.

我搞不清楚他的意思.
Wǒ gǎo bù qīngchǔ tā de yìsī.
I can’t figure out what he means.

知道 (zhīdào) and 晓得 (xiǎodé) both mean to know, to understand, to realize, or to be aware of something.

你知道我的意思吧?
Nǐ zhīdào wǒ de yìsī ba?
You know what I mean, don’t you?

你知道吗? (Nǐ zhīdào ma?) could also be used to start an informal conversation – “You know? Blah, blah, blah.”

Elementary school teachers habitually follow their instructions with 知道吗? (Zhīdào ma? Understand?) and 晓得吧? (Xiǎodé ba? Understand?) We had a family friend who used to be a teacher. He would punctuate every remark with his pet phrase 晓得吧? (Xiǎodé ba?). This made him sound quite presumptuous.

领会 (lǐnghuì) is to understand or grasp the meaning of something.

会意 (huìyì) means to perceive someone’s unspoken thoughts or meaning. 会心 (huìxīn knowing, knowingly) is normally used as an adjective or an adverb.

她给了我一个会心的微笑.
Tā gěi le wǒ yī gè huìxīn de wēixiào.
She gave me a knowing smile.

Chinese antonyms

In the lyrics for the song mentioned in my previous post, we see that 老人 (lăorén old person) and 姑娘 (gūniáng girl or young lady) at at opposite ends of the age spectrum. An old person would be characterized as being of old age, or 年纪老 (nián jì lăo), and a young person, as being at a young age, or 年纪小 (niánjì xiăo).

他的年纪太小,不适合做这工作.
Tā de niánjì tài xiăo, bù shìhé zuò zhè gōngzuò.
He is too young for this job.

不适合 (bú shìhé) means not befitting.

年青 (niánqīng) also means young, whereas 青年 (qīngnián) refers to a youth. 年轻人 (niánqīngrén) refers to young people in general. An older and wiser person can often be heard to remark:

年轻人, 不懂事.
Niánqīngrén, bù dǒngshì.
These young people; they don’t know what they’re doing.
These young people; they don’t know what’s proper.
(The rashness and folly of youth.)

(màn slow, slowly) is the opposite of (kuài quick, quickly).

冷风 (lĕng fēng) is cold wind, while 暖风 (nuăn fēng) is warm wind. 冷笑 (lěngxiào) is to sneer or to grin with dissatisfaction or bitterness. 温暖的微笑 (wēnnuǎn de wēixiào) is a warm and congenial smile.

不爱 (bú ài not to love) is the antonym of (ài to love). In fact, you can add (bú) to any adjective to form its antonym.

How is this for a description of a character in a novel?

他不高不矮,不胖不瘦.
Tā bù gāo bù ǎi, bú pàng bú shòu.
He is neither tall nor short, and neither fat nor thin.

青春 (qīngchūn) is one’s youth or youthfulness, while 晚年 (wǎnnián) is one’s old age. Click on this link to watch the kids perform a lively Xinjiang folksong.

This song talks about the sun going down now and rising again tomorrow.
The sun is called 太阳 (tàiyáng).
下山 (xiàshān) is to go down the mountains.
爬上来 (pá shànglai) is to climb up.

Another observation is that the flowers withering now will blooming again next year.
花谢了. (huā xiè le) means the flowers have withered.
花开了. (huā kāi le) means the flowers have burst into blooms.

Then there is mention of a pretty little bird that has flown away, no trace of it to be found.
飞去 (fēi qù) means to fly away.
回来 (huílái) means to come back.

Finally, one’s youth is likened to the bird that will never return. Rejoice, while we are still young (some of us perhaps a century young)!

儿童节快乐!
Eértóngjié kuàilè!
Happy International Children’s Day!

Aside

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