Sing “It’s A Small World After All” in Chinese

The Globe

The Globe

It’s a ball! It’s a globe! It’s our world! As the surface of the earth approximates a sphere, it is logical to use the latitude-longitude coordinate system as a location reference.

We already know that the earth is called 地球 (dìqiú). 纬度 (wěidù) is the latitude , while 经度 (jīngdù) is the longitude. Therefore, a north latitude would be given as 北纬 (běiwěi), while a south latitude would be given as
南纬 (nánwěi). Similarly, the east longitude is 东经 (dōngjīng), and the west longitude is 西经 (xījīng).

迪斯尼乐园位于北纬33度48分, 西经117度55分.
Dísīní Lèyuán wèiyú běiwěi 33 dù 48 fēn, xījīng 117 dù 55 fēn.
Disneyland is located at 33-48 N and 117-55 W.

Each one of us is at an intersection of a latitude line (parallel), or 纬线 (wěixiàn), and a longitude line (meridian), 经线 (jīngxiàn). A miniscule speck indeed. We are so 渺小 (miǎoxiǎo tiny, insignificant) compared to the entire world, or 世界 (shìjiè).

The good news is that technology has shortened the distance between countries and groups of people. Whereas just a century ago, a Chinese peasant might have to travel on foot for three days to attend a relative’s wedding celebration, nowadays you could fly to any city in the world in less than 24 hours. The world has shrunk, so to speak. The Walt Disney song, “It’s a Small World After All”, captures this sentiment in a happy tune. The Chinese version at this link relays many positive messages.

不管 (bùguǎn) means “regardless of” or “no matter”.
分种族 (fēn zhǒngzú) is to differentiate by race.
阶级 (jiējí) means social class.
充满 (chōngmǎn) means to be filled with.
友情 (yǒuqíng) is friendship.
甜蜜 (tiánmì) means sweet or a sweet and happy feeling.
昨日 (zuó rì) means the same as 昨天 (zuótiān yesterday).
相隔 (xiānggé) is to be apart (by a distance).
千万里 (qiānwàn li) means ten million miles (i.e. a very long distance).
今天 (jīntiān) means today.
在一起 (zài yīqǐ) means to be together in the same place.
奇妙 (qímiào) means marvelous or amazing.
欢笑 (huānxiào) is to laugh heartily, and 欢呼 (huānhū) is to cheer and hail.
自由 (zìyóu) is freedom.
幸福 (xìngfú) is happiness or wellbeing.
歌唱 (gēchàng) means the same as 唱歌 (chànggē to sing).
相亲相爱 (xiāng qīn xiāng ài) is a phrase commonly used to describe how people get along amicably or lovingly with each other.
互相勉励 (hùxiāng miǎnlì) is also a popular phrase describing how people give each other encouragement and moral support.

Plain rice or fried rice?

As you know, rice is the staple food in many parts of southeastern Asia. (mǐ) is uncooked rice. (This character is also used to represent the distance unit, “meters”.) Cooked rice is called (fàn), which sounds quite similar to “fun”. Plain cooked rice is 白饭 (báifàn), and stir-fried rice is 炒饭 (chǎo fàn). Please don’t go around announcing that you like to 吃白饭 (chī báifàn) as this expression can also be interpreted as the equivalent of 白吃 (bái chī), which means eating without paying, or bilking others. It is safe to say:

Wǒ xǐhuān chī bái mǐfàn.
I like to eat plain rice.

Another expression to be careful about is 吃软饭 (chī ruǎn fàn eat soft rice), which means to sponge off women. It is safe to say:

Wǒ xǐhuān chī bǐjiào ruǎn de fàn.
I like to eat rice that’s on the soft side.

Having thousands of years of history behind them, the Chinese, have taken the plain rice grains and turned them into a large variety of delectable food products. Rice porridge is called (zhōu congee) or 稀饭 (xīfàn). When the rice is cooked to a paste, then it’s called (hú). This word can also be used as a verb, i.e. “to glue with a paste”.

(fěn) is a powder. When rice is ground into powder and made into a vermicelli, it is called 米粉 (mǐ fěn rice flour noodles). On some restaurant menus, you may find 炒粉 (chǎofěn), which refers to stir-fried rice noodles.

Rice powder can also be used to make a variety of rice cakes, generally referred to as (gāo). As I mentioned before, the sticky rice cake, called 年糕 (niángāo), is customarily served for the Lunar New Year. On the other hand, 蛋糕 (dàngāo cakes) usually refer to cakes made from wheat flour. What happens when you’ve added too much sugar, or (táng), into the cake?

Zhègè dàngāo tài tián le!
This cake is too sweet!

Please refer to the book,”Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”, for the names of other food items. There you will also find a song sung to the tune of “Hot Cross Buns”.

(lì) are grains or granules. It is also used as a unit of counting small round items.

(cū) means coarse, grainy, thick or wide.

(hé) refers to the rice plant. This character is a radical found in many other Chinese characters. For example, you’ve most likely seen the word (hé) used as the conjunctive “and”. As an adjective, this word means to be gentle or congenial. As a noun, it means the sum. As a verb, (huò), means to mix, and is pronounced in the fourth tone.

When you harvest the rice by cutting the pants, profit will be gained. So, when you add the刂(dāo knife) radical to (hé), you will get (lì), which means sharp, beneficial, a profit or an interest (from savings or investment).

Lián běn dài lì yīgòng sān qiān liù bǎi yuán.
Including principal and interest, altogether it’s 3600 yuan.

便利 (biànlì) means convenient. 顺利 (shùnlì) means going smoothly or without a problem. 利用 (lìyòng) is a verb that means “to make good use of” or, in the negative sense, “to exploit”.

(dào) are the rice plants in the paddy.
(xiāng) means fragrant or savory. As a noun, it refers to incense.
(chèng) are scales. It can be used as the verb “to weigh”.
(shuì) are duty and taxes.
(jì) are the seasons.

Yī nián yǒu sìjì.
There are four seasons in a year.

One sweltering day during the Tang Dynasty, a farmer was laboring in his rice field. A poet, named 李绅 (Lǐ shēn), happened by. He took sympathy on the farmer, and the inspiration resulted in this well-known poem:

Chú hé rì dāng wǔ,
Hoeing in the rice field at midday,

Hàn dī hé xià tǔ.
Sweat dripping past the rice onto the soil.

Shéi zhī pán zhōng cān
Who’d have known the food on the plate,

Lì lì jiē xīnkǔ.
Each and every grain means toil.

To hear a reading of this poem, please click here.

May you all see the fruit of your labor in the coming year.

Xīnnián kuàilè!
Happy New Year!

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