Fall Harvest

秋 (qiū) Autumn

The sun is shining bright as I pick the last of my cute little 小番茄 (xiǎo fānqié cherry tomatoes) off the vines, but it’s not scorching hot. The air is a bit on the cool side, but not so cold as to bite. The flies have all but disappeared, but the birds are still around chirping. What’s not to like about this time of the year?

秋天 (qiūtiān, autumn) is the time for harvesting and enjoying the fruit of your labor. Besides the 苹果 (píngguǒ apples), (lí pears), 葡萄 (pútáo grapes), 李子 (lǐzi plums) and various kinds of 坚果 (jiānguǒ nuts), you will want to also bring in the 青豆 (qīngdòu green beans), 高丽菜 (gāolì cài cabbage) and 南瓜 (nánguā pumpkins) before frost sets in.

Literally, 结果 (jiéguǒ) is the action of a plant forming fruits. This word, like “to bear fruit”, also means to get results. You can also use it as a noun that refers to the result or the outcome.

你们讨论的结果怎么样?
Nǐmen tǎolùn de jiéguǒ zěnmeyàng?
What’s the outcome of your discussion?

(shōu) is to receive, to accept, to gather or to put away. (huò) is the formal word for 得到 (dédào to have gotten, to have obtained, to have received). 收获 (shōuhuò) means to harvest or to bring in the crop. It also refers to the crop itself or the gain from the work one puts in. As the saying goes:

一分耕耘, 一分收获.
Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò.
No pain, no gain. (You will harvest as much as you have cultivated.)

The Traditional Chinese word for harvest is 收穫 (shōuhuò), which clearly involves (hé), or standing rice plants.

On the other hand, the character (huò) contains the “dog” radical, (quǎn), that we talked about before. It implies capturing something by force. In the Simplified Chinese character system, this character is used in words pertaining to gaining or getting something regardless of the means by which the object is obtained.

Besides 收获 (shōuhuò), terms containing (huò) are mostly used in formal Chinese and not colloquially. However, it’s still important to learn these words as you are bound to come across them in verbal news reports, newspapers and other written material.

获得 (huòdé) means to receive, to obtain, to acquire or to achieve.

打猎 (dǎliè) is to go hunting. Therefore, 猎获 (lièhuò)
means to have gotten something by hunting. In everyday speech, you would simply say 打到 (dǎ dào).

他们打到三只雁. (dǎ dào).
Tāmen dǎ dào sān zhī yàn.
They got three wild geese.

知道 (zhīdào) means to know or to be aware of. 获知 (huòzhī) means to have obtained information about something.

我们已经获知台风将转向.
Wǒmén yǐjīng huòzhī táifēng jiāng zhuànxiàng.
We have already received news that the typhoon is changing course.

利益 (lìyì) are profits or benefits. 获益 (huòyì) means to have received benefit or profit.

胜利 (shènglì) means victory. 获胜 (huòshèng) is to triumph or to win a victory. So, when you hear or read “我方获胜. (Wǒ fāng huòshèng.)”, you’ll know that our side has won.

准许 (zhǔnxǔ) means to give approval, and 获准 (huòzhǔn) means to have obtained approval or permission.

Following are three popular idioms involving (huò):

如获至宝 (rúhuòzhìbǎo) describes a person being so happy and excited as if he or she had unexpectedly been given the most precious treasure.

我收到他的信, 如获至宝.
Wǒ shōudào tā de xìn, rúhuòzhìbǎo.
When I got his letter, it felt like receiving the most valuable treasure in the world.

一无所获 (yīwúsuǒhuò) means to have gotten nothing for one’s efforts.

他们找了一整天, 但是一无所获.
Tāmen zhǎo le yīzhěngtiān, dànshì yīwúsuǒhuò.
They searched for an entire day, but came back empty-handed.

不劳而获 (bùláoérhuò) means to have a windfall, to get something for nothing, or to profit without toiling. This phrase usually carries a negative connotation.

The sun radical


As the Chinese saying goes,

一年之计在于春.
Yīniánzhiqjìzàiyúchūn.
The whole year’s planning hinges on a good beginning in spring.

This adage is particularly applicable to farmers and gardeners. You must first sow before you can reap. If you expect to harvest fresh vine-ripened tomatoes in late August, 八月 (bā yuè), or early September, 九月 (jiǔ yuè), then this is a good time to get a few tomato starts going. Tomatoes are called 番茄 (fānqié) in Chinese.

You’ll notice that there is a sun in the character (chūn). Let’s talk about the sun radical, (rì), in hopes of coaxing the sun out of its hiding.

The word (rì) can mean the sun, the day, daytime, or daily, while 太阳 (tàiyáng) specifically refers to the sun or sunshine. Solar energy is called 太阳能 (tàiyáng néng), while luorescent lamps are called 日光灯 (rìguāngdēng sunlight lamp).

(zǎo) and 早晨 (zǎochén) mean early morning.
(xiǎo) is day-break. It also means to know, as in 晓得 (xiǎodé).

我晓得了.
Wǒ xiǎodé le.
Got it. (I see.)

时间 (shíjiān) is the time, a duration of time, or a point in time.

(wǎn) means evening, night, late, or junior. (xīng) refers to stars or heavenly bodies.

晚上星星亮晶晶.
Wǎnshàng xīngxīng liàngjīngjīng.
At night the stars shine brilliantly.

(chāng) means flourishing. No wonder this character is found in the names of many places and localities. The word 昌盛 (chāngshèng) means prosperous.

(wàng) also means flourishing, but more vigorously than (chāng). You can use the word 旺盛 (wàngshèng) to describe a booming business or the vigor of an athlet.

(yì) has multiple meanings. 容易 (róngyìì) means easy. 交易 (jiāoyì) is a business transaction. 平易 (píngyì) means easy-going or amiable. In classical Chinese, (yì) also means to change or to exchange. 易经 (yìjīng) is The Book of Changes

(nuǎn) and 温暖 (wēnnuǎn) both mean warm.

(zhào) is to shine or to illuminate.

阳光照在我脸上.
Yángguāng zhào zài wǒ liǎn shàng.
Sunlight is shining on my face.

照相 (zhàoxiàng) is to take a photograph. (xiàng) has multiple meanings. Here, it refers to one’s looks.

晴天 (qíngtiān) is fine, clear, sunny day. Too much of a good thing is not necessarily beneficial. Too much sunshine will result in 旱地 (hàndì dry land).

Try to make sentences using some of the above Chinese words. You have truly learned a word when you are able to incorporate it in a dialog or in your writing.

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