Autumn Leaves in Chinese

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves


Sunshine today, rain tomorrow. Colorful leaves come tumbling down like snowflakes. There’s no mistaking that autumn is here. Sandwiched between the hottest and the coldest seasons, spring and fall scenes tend to be the favorite subject matter for poems and songs. The very popular “Autumn Leaves” was originally a French song (“Les Feuilles Mortes” – The Dead Leaves), with music by Joseph Kosma and lyric by Jacques Prévert. You can hear Nat King Cole sing the English version by clicking on this link.

Today we will interpret the English lyric written by Johnny Mercer in Chinese prose. You might imagine yourself writing a letter to a sweetheart who has been away for some time. To flesh out the verses, it is necessary to add words here and there that are not in the original lines but we will try to keep the embellishment to a minimum so as not to be guilty of exaggeration. In Chinese, embellishing and exaggerating a story when retelling it to another person is called 添枝加叶 (tiānzhījiāyè add branches and leaves), 加盐加醋 (jiā yán jiā cù add salt and vinegar), or 加油添酱 (jiā yóu tiān jiàng add oil and a thick sauce).

(tiān), like (jiā), means to add or to increase.

Try and see if you can get the meaning of any unfamiliar words by reading them in the following context.

秋天的叶子飘过我的窗户.
Qiūtiān de yèzi piāo guò wǒde chuānghù.
The autumn leaves float by my window.

秋天的叶子, 有的绯红, 有的金黄.
Qiūtiān de yèzi, yǒude fēihóng, yǒude jīnhuáng.
Some of the autumn leaves are bright red, some are golden yellow.

我眼前浮现你丰满的嘴唇,
Wǒ yǎnqián fúxiàn nǐ fēngmǎn de zuǐchún,
Before my eyes your plump lips appear,

使我想起我们夏日的热吻.
shǐ wǒ xiǎngqǐ wǒmén xià rì de rè wěn.
bringing back the memory of our hot kisses in the summer.

我也想起你那晒黑了的手,
Wǒ yě xiǎngqǐ nǐ nà shài hēi le de shǒu,
I also recall your sun-burned hand,

以及我们以前手牵手的情景.
yǐjí wǒmén yǐqián shǒu qiān shǒu de qíngjǐng
and how we used to hold hands.

自从你离开以后, 日子变得漫长难挨.
Zìcóng nǐ líkāi yǐhòu, rìzi biàn de màncháng nán ái.
Since you left, the days have become long and hard to endure.

再不久就会听到冬天凄凉的歌声.
Zài bùjiǔ jiù huì tīngdào dōngtián qīliáng de gē shēng.
Pretty soon we will hear the sound of winter’s desolate song.

但是, 亲爱的, 我最想念你的时候
Dànshì, qīnài de, wǒ zuì xiǎngniàn nǐ de shíhòu
However, beloved, the time I miss you the most

还是在秋叶开始掉落的时节.
háishì zài qiū yè kāishǐ diào luò de shíjié.
is still when the autumn leaves start to fall.

(fú) means to float. It also means superficial, flighty, or unstable (xiàn) means to appear, to show, being at the present, or existing. 浮现 (fúxiàn) means to appear in one’s mind.

丰满 (fēngmǎn) means well developed or plenty.

晒黑 (shài hēi) is how the Chinese describes getting tanned by the sun. The Chinese word for “to burn” is (shāo). If the skin is indeed injured by the burn, you would use 烧伤了 (shāoshāng le) to describe it.

以及 (yǐjí) means as well as.

情景 (qíngjǐng) means scene or circumstance.

自从 (zìcóng since) is a conjunctive used in forming complex sentences.

漫长 (màncháng) means very long, and 凄凉 (qīliáng) means bleak or miserable.

秋叶 (qiū yè autumn leaves) is the short form of 秋天的叶子 (Qiūtiān de yèzi).

掉落 (diào luò) means to fall or drop.

时节 (shíjié) is time or season.

Signing in Chinese

二手货 (èrshǒuhuò) means second-hand merchandise. Here, the word (èr two) refers to 第二 (dìèr second, or secondly). If you mean to say “both hands”, then say 两只手 (liǎng zhī shǒu two hands), or 双手 (shuāngshǒu both hands).

When a word or expression escapes us, we might make a gesture to help convey what we are trying to say. Hand gestures are also often used to emphasize a point. In fact, certain facial expressions and hand gestures are an integral part of some languages. For people with impaired hearing and/or speech, the ability to employ sign language is a true blessing. The Chinese word for sign language is 手语 (shǒuyǔ).

Associating an expression with a gesture will actually make it easier to learn that expression. You are more apt to remember a Chinese word when you say it often, write it often, sing it often and repeatedly see an object or scene or do an action involving that word. Storing the word in multiple channels, so to speak, allows it to be more readily recalled when you need it.

To try your hand at signing in Chinese, click on this link: 手牵手 (Shǒu Qiān Shǒu Hand in Hand) and follow the demonstration performed by the four Malaysian students.

牵手 (qiān shǒu) is to hold hands.
花开 (huā kāi) describes how flowers open up, or bloom. 花谢 (huā xiè) describes how flowers wither. These natural phenomena signify the change of seasons, or 季节的转移 (jìjiě de zhuǎnyí).
面对 (miànduì) is to face or to confront.
未来的 (wèilái) means future.
分离 (fēnlí) means to separate or to leave each other. It is synonymous with 分手 (fēnshǒu). Here it is used as noun (separation).
牢记 (láojì) is to keep firmly in mind.
这段 (zhè duàn) means “this section of” or “this segment of”.
记忆 (jìyì) is memory or remembrance.
朋友 (péngyǒu) are friends.
我永远祝福你. (Wǒ yǒngyuǎn zhùfú nǐ.) – I will always wish you well.
人生 (rénshēng) is life.
一定 (yīdìng) means for sure, certainly.
起落 (qǐluò) means rise and fall, or ups and downs.
不要伤心. (bùyào shāngxīn) – “Don’t feel sad.”
我会在你身边. (Wǒ huì zà nǐ shēnbiān.) – I will be by your side.
鼓励 (gǔlì) is encouragement. This word can also be used as a verb.
愿意 (yuàny) means to be willing to.
把我们的手牵在一起. (Bǎ wǒmén de shǒu qiān zài yīqǐ.) – Let’s join our hands together.
(yòng) means to use.
青春的 (qīngchūn) means youthful.
(xiě) is to write, and 奇迹 (qíjì) is a miracle.
放在一起 (fàng zài yīqǐ) means to place together.
(xīn) is the heart.
共同 (gòngtóng) means jointly.
度过 (dùguò) is to undergo or to endure.
风和雨 (fēng hé yǔ wind and rain) refers to the troubles in life.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up tomorrow. May those of you who are far away from home have friends with whom to celebrate this happy occasion.

中秋节快乐!
Zhōngqiūjié kuàilè.
Have a happy Moon Festival!

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