Labor Day in Chinese

Bee in Flower

Bee Collecting Pollens

In “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” we talked about a number of the major Chinese holidays. Here in the USA we are celebrating today the Labor Day, i.e. 劳工节 (láogōng jié). This is different from the 劳动节
(láodòngjié), which is the International Labour Day on May 1. Labor Day was the day the Labor Movement was created in the USA to fight for better wages, reasonable working hours and safer working conditions. This national holiday is annually observed as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

劳工 (láogōng) or 工人 (gōngrén) are workers, and 运动 (yùndòng) could refer to a physical exercise or a movement.

Láogōng duìyú jīngjì yǒu hěn dà de gòngxiàn.
The workers contribute greatly to the economy.

The sociey needs the support of workers, just like a bee colony needs to be maintained by the worker bees. It is interesting that in a bee colony, all the work is carried out by female bees.

Gōngfēng jiànzào fēngwō.
The worker bees construct the bee hive.

Tāmen qínláo de shōují huāfěn, huāmì, yǐjí shuǐ.
They diligently collect pollen, nectar and water.

Tāmen niàng zhì fēngmì lái wèi yòuchóng.
They make honey to feed the larvae.

Tāmen shènzhì yào fùzé yǔ dírén zuòzhàn.
They are even charged with the duty of battling the enemies.

Tāmen cōngmáng lái qù, fēicháng mánglù.
They hurry to and fro and are very busy.

Tāmen duìyú gōngzuò yǒu nónghòu de xìngqù.
They have a keen interest in doing their work.

Rúguǒ tāmen zài tiān nuǎn huā hǎo de shíhòu bù nǔlì gōngzuò,
If they don’t work hard when the flowers are blooming and the weather is fair,

Jiānglái rúhé nénggòu ānquán dùguò dōngtiān?
how can they survive winter in the future?

Now, watch this video and give yourself a pat on the back if you understand the lyrics 100%.

If you would like to practice writing some of the Chinese characters, please print out Chinese Character Tracing 30.

If you would like to play this simple song on a keyboard, click here to get the music sheet.

Láogōng jié kuàilè!
Have a Happy Labor Day!

Sing Chinese Song – Crescent Moon Shines over the Land

There is a Sung Dynasty folk song that starts with these lines:

Yuè er wān wān zhào jiǔzhōu,
The slim crescent moon shines all over the land,

几家欢乐, 几家愁.
Jǐ jiā huānlè, jǐ jiā chóu.
Some families happy and others sad.

九州 (jiǔzhōu) refers to the nine regions of ancient China. This term is still used in songs and poems to refer to China. Please note that 九州 (jiǔzhōu) is also the Chinese word for Kyushu, one of the four main islands of Japan.

Although the moon graces all the people equally, a few families enjoy prosperity while the majority endure hardship.

This old song was later transformed into a theme song for a movie. I am not familiar with the movie, but from the lyrics of the song and a short movie clip on Youtube, I gathered that it’s about a girl from a fisherman’s family who left her village for the city and later became a famous singer. The glamorous new life also brought her unexpected trouble.

Click on this link to hear 月儿弯弯照九州 sung in a male voice. At this site there is an English translation of this song. The lyrics are provided in Traditional Chinese characters.

Let’s look at some of the terms used in the first three stanzas of the lyrics, which depict the plight of a fisherman’s life.

(wān) means curved or bent. The crescent moon has a curved shape. (zhào) has a few different meanings. Here it means to shine or to illuminate.

渔船 (yúchuán) is a fishing boat, and 渔家 (yú jiā) is a fisherman’s family.

到处 (dàochù) means everywhere. 停留 (tíngliú) means to stop and stay.

风光 (fēngguāng) is a scenery. 青山绿水 (qīngshān lǜ shuǐ) is a commonly used term that describes green hills and clear green water, i.e. a nice scenery.

Among common folks, the male in a couple may be addressed by the female as 哥哥 (gēgē), and (mèi) is the female counterpart.

吹笛 (chuī dí) is to play a flute, and 梳头 (shū tóu) is to comb one’s hair. Both are leisurely activities.

工作 (gōngzuò) means a work (noun), a job, or to work (verb).

几时 (jǐshí) is another way of saying 什么时候? (shénme shíhòu), which means “When?”. (xiū) means to stop or to rest. In regular parlance, 几时休 (xiū) would be expressed as:

Shénme shíhòu cái huì tíngzhǐ?
When will it stop?

白天 (báitiān) is daytime, and (yè) is night or evening. 摇船 (yáochuán) is to row the boat and, 补网 (bǔ wǎng) is to mend the fishing net.

青春 (qīngchūn) means one’s youth, youthfulness or being youthful.

水里 (shuǐ li) means in the water.

(diū) means to throw, to throw away or to lose something.

风浪 (fēnglàng) are stormy waves. 翻天 (fāntiān) means overturning the sky. It describes the worrisome turbulence of the storm.

使人 (shǐ rén) translates to “causes a person to” or “to enable a person to”. So, 使人愁 (shǐ rén chóu) means “makes one worry”.

Nèi jiàn shì shǐ wǒ gǎndào bùān.
That incident made me feel uneasy.

要吃 (yào chī) means needing to eat; 要穿 (yào chuān) means needing to have clothing to wear. (gù) is to care about or to take into consideration. (xiǎn) are dangers. 哪顾得险 (nǎ gù de xiǎn) means not having the luxury to care about the dangers (of fishing in stormy weather).

可怜 (kělián) means pitiable, pitiful or poor. 流泪 (liú lèi) is to weep. (shuāng) is a pair, or two of something. 泪双流 (lèi shuāng liú) indicates there are two people weeping together.

Teamwork in Chinese (1)

Each of us has certain knowledge, abilities, talents and/or skills, which can help us perform various tasks or achieve excellence in certain fields. On the other hand, many jobs, projects and activities require a number of different talents and manpower to accomplish. Obviously, when we work in an organization, we contribute our efforts to a team and do our best to cooperate with the other team members. Even within a family, each of us plays a distinct role and we work together for the well-being of everyone in the family.

合作 (hézuò) means to cooperate or to collaborate.

Wǒmén hézuò de hěnhǎo.
We work well together.

合力 (hélì) is to join forces or pool efforts. 同心合力 (tóngxīnhélì) is an idiom that means to join efforts to achieve a common goal. The following sentence refers to a Chinese children’s song titled 拔萝卜 (Bá Luóbo).

他们同心合力, 终于拔起了大萝卜.
Tāmen tóngxīnhélì, zhōngyú bá qǐ le dà luóbo.
They joined efforts and finally pulled out the huge radish.

志同道合 (zhìtóngdàohé) describes two or more people who share the same ideals and have a common goal. Sometimes this phrase is used in jest. So, when you find out that Jack also likes to go out for a drink or two after work, you could say:

Wǒmén zhìtóngdàohé.
We have the same aspirations and follow the same path.

In a team the job assignments and work schedules of the members need to be well coordinated. In this context, 配合 (pèihé) means to coordinate or to cooperate. 工作 (gōngzuò) means work or job. 时间 (shíjiān) is time.

Tā yuànyì pèihé wǒde gōngzuò shíjiān.
He is willing to accommodate my work hours.

合伙 (héhuǒ) is to form a partnership. Often that involves pooling capital, or 合股 (hégǔ). Here, (gǔ) refers to a share in a company.

A team is called 团队 (tuánduì). Therefore, teamwork can be translated as 团队合作 (tuánduì hézuò cooporation within a team) or 团队工作 (tuánduì gōngzuò work performed in a team). In a team, the members unite for a common goal.

团结 (tuánjié) is to unite or to rally. 一致 (yīzhì) means identical, unanimous, or consistent.

大家团结一致! (Dàjiā tuánjié yīzhì! Let’s stick together!)” is a commonly used slogan. Following is another one:

Unity is strength.

合唱 (héchàng) is to sing together, and 合唱团 (héchàngtuán) is a chorus. A relative recently sent me a link to the Flash Mob Chorus Taipei 101. Of the four songs performed, we have previously discussed two at this blog site. To review the Chinese words used in those two songs, please click on 茉莉花 and 高山青. And if you say that one of the songs is not in Mandarin Chinese, you are correct. The third song is a Taiwanese song, sung in the Taiwanese dialect.

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