Benjamin Franklin Aphorisms in Chinese

Lighting Rod
Benjamin Franklin invented the lighting rod.

On this fourth day of July, I think fondly of the oldest of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, who was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Benjamin Franklin contributed greatly to the American Revolution. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence, represented the United States in France during the American Revolution, and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

As a person, he was intelligent, industrious, benevolent, humerous and full of wisdom. It is his wisdom that we could probably borrow by minding some of the aphorisms he shared mainly through his annual Poor Richard’s Almanack publication.

The Chinese word for aphorism is 格言 (géyán). Here we go.

爱你的敌人, 因为他们会告诉你你的错误.
Ài nǐ de dírén, yīnwèi tāmen huì gàosù nǐ nǐ de cuòwù.
Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.

同狗一起上床的人会带着跳蚤起床.
Tóng gǒu yīqǐ shàngchuáng de rén huì dàizhe tiàozǎo qǐchuáng.
He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.

(上床 means go to bed, while 起床 means to get up from bed.)

说得好不如做得好.
Shuō dé hǎo bùrú zuò dé hǎo.
Well done is better than well said.

真正的朋友是最好的财产.
Zhēnzhèng de péngyǒu shì zuì hǎo de cáichǎn.
A true Friend is the best Possession.

失去的时间再也找不回来了.
Shīqù de shíjiān zài yě zhǎo bù huílái le.
Lost Time is never found again.

欲速则不达.
Yù sù zé bù dá.
Haste makes Waste.

你必须努力工作来实现你的目标.
Nǐ bìxū nǔlì gōngzuò lái shíxiàn nǐ de mùbiāo.
You have to work hard to achieve your goals.

告诉我, 我会忘记; 教我, 我可能会记住; 让我参与; 我就学会了.
Gàosù wǒ, wǒ huì wàngjì; jiào wǒ, wǒ kěnéng huì jì zhù; ràng wǒ cānyù, wǒ jiù xuéhuìle.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

爱你的邻居; 但不要拆掉你的栅栏.
Ài nǐ de línjū; dàn bùyào chāi diào nǐ de zhàlán.
Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge.

婚前睁大两眼, 婚后闭一只眼.
Hūnqián zhēng dà liǎng yǎn, hūn hòu bì yī zhī yǎn.
Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward.

人生的悲剧是我们老得太快, 而太晚得到智慧.
Rénshēng de bēijù shì wǒmen lǎo dé tài kuài, ér tài wǎn dédào zhìhuì.
Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

尖酸刻薄交不到朋友; 一勺蜂蜜比一加仑醋能捕到更多的苍蝇.
Jiānsuān kèbó jiāo bù dào péngyǒu; yī sháo fēngmì bǐ yī jiālún cù néng bǔ dào gèng duō de cāngyíng.
Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.

言多必失.
Yán duō bì shī.
He that speaks much is much mistaken.

对知识的投资总是能带来最大的利益.
Duì zhīshì de tóuzī zǒng shì néng dài lái zuìdà de lìyì.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that you read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. You can read a free copy of the ebook version at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20203/20203-h/20203-h.htm

七月四日快乐!
Qīyuè sìrì kuàilè!
Happy July 4th!

*** If you are looking for stories to read in Chinese, please check out “Inspiring Stories in Chinese”. This edition is in Simplified Chinese characters.

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.

劳工对于经济有很大的贡献.
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.

工蜂建造蜂窝.
Gōngfēng jiànzào fēngwō.
The worker bees construct the bee hive.

他们勤劳地收集花粉,花蜜,以及水.
Tāmen qínláo de shōují huāfěn, huāmì, yǐjí shuǐ.
They diligently collect pollen, nectar and water.

他们酿制蜂蜜来喂幼虫.
Tāmen niàng zhì fēngmì lái wèi yòuchóng.
They make honey to feed the larvae.

他们甚至要负责与敌人作战.
Tāmen shènzhì yào fùzé yǔ dírén zuòzhàn.
They are even charged with the duty of battling the enemies.

他们匆忙来去,非常忙碌.
Tāmen cōngmáng lái qù, fēicháng mánglù.
They hurry to and fro and are very busy.

他们对于工作有浓厚的兴趣.
Tāmen duìyú gōngzuò yǒu nónghòu de xìngqù.
They have a keen interest in doing their work.

如果他们在天暖花好的时候不努力工作,
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,

将来如何能够安全度过冬天?
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.

劳工节快乐!
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:

月儿弯弯照九州,
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:

什么时候才会停止?
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”.

那件事使我感到不安.
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.

我们合作得很好.
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:

我們志同道合.
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.

他愿意配合我的工作时间.
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:

团结就是力量.
Tuánjiéjiùshìlìliàng.
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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