Ebook for learning Chinese

Chinese ebook 中文電子書   zhōngwén diànzǐ shū

I like to read print books as well as ebooks. I also enjoy listening to audio books. It is through written or spoken words that human beings are able to communicate with one another or pass down information and knowledge from generation to generation. Besides, a good book is like a good friend who informs, educates, advises, entertains, comforts and always remains faithful. Therefore, the value of good books cannot be overestimated.

The traditional Chinese character for books is (shū) . In the simplified Chinese character system, it is represented by (shū). Books can also be referred to as 书本 (shūběn) or 书籍 (shūjí). 教科书 (jiàokēshū) are textbooks, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books and 百科全书 (bǎikēquánshū) is an encyclopedia. 小说 (xiǎoshuō novels) and 闲书 (xiánshū) are for light reading. The general term for books and newspapers is 书报 (shūbào); 书刊 (shūkān) refers to books and periodicals. 书名 (shūmíng) is the title of a book.

Zhè shì yī běn yǒuqù de gùshi shū.
This is an interesting storybook.

You might go to the library 图书馆 (túshūguǎn) to borrow books 借书 (jiè shū). You might place the books on a desk 书桌 (shūzhuō), a bookrack 书柜 (shūguì) or a bookshelf 书架 (shūjià) in your study 书房 (shūfáng), where you might also find a 订书机 (dìngshūjī stapler).

Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu zhègè túshūguǎn de jièshūzhèng?
Do you have the library card for this library?

书店 (shūdiàn) is a bookstore, and 书摊 (shūtān) is a bookstall or bookstand. On the other hand, 书局 (shūjú) or 出版社 (chūbǎnshè) is a publishing house.

A grade-school kid usually carries books in a 书包 (shūbāo satchel) or 背包 (bèibāo backpack) to go to school. 读书 (dúshū) means to study or to attend school. At school they might be asked to commit certain reading material to memory. 背书 (bèishū) is to recite a lesson from memory. In the business world, this word means to place one’s endorsement on a cheque.

看书 (kàn shū) is to read, not just to look at a book.

The word (shū) not only refers to books but its meaning also extends to letters and documents. It is also used as a verb (i.e. to write) in classical Chinese.

书信 (shūxìn) and 书简 (shūjiǎn) refers to letters, correspondence or written messages. 手书 (shǒushū) is a personal letter. As a verb, it means to write in one’s own hand.

文书 (wénshū) is a general term for documents. 说明书 (shuōmíngshū) are instruction flyers or pamphlets. 通知书 (tōngzhīshū) are written notices. 上书 (shàngshū) is to submit a written statement to a higher authority.

Tā chángcháng xiě qíngshū gěi Ānjí.
He often writes love letters to Angie.

If he keeps up the effort, he might eventually win her heart and secure a 结婚证书 (jiéhūnzhèngshū marriage certificate).

书写 (shūxiě) means the same as (xiě to write) but is used in a more formal way, sometimes implying the use of Chinese calligraphy. In fact, 书画 (shūhuà) refers to paintings and calligraphy, and the Chinese word for calligraphy is 书法 (shūfǎ). 草书 (cǎoshū) does not mean “grass book”. It is a cursive Chinese writing style that features free flowing strokes that often render the characters unintelligible to the untrained eyes.

书面 (shūmiàn) means “in writing”. So a written permission is called 书面许可 (shūmiànxǔkě).

I guess because a secretary shuffles lots of papers, including confidential documents, he or she is called a 秘书 (mìshū). A bookworm is called a 书呆子 (shūdāizi). 书生 (shūshēng) is a young scholar, while 白面书生 (báimiànshūshēng pale-faced scholar) can imply lack of experience and real-world knowledge.

To encourage people to read books, a well known Chinese saying goes like this:

Shū zhòng zì yǒu huángjīn wū;
In books there are mansions of gold;

shū zhòng zì yǒu yán rú yù.
in books there are beauties to be found.

(zì) as a noun means self. As an adverb, it means certainly or of course. As a preposition it means from or since. As fiction is the product of an author’s imagination, of course one could find in it fantastic gold mansions and/or out-of-this-world beauties.

(yán) means color. It also refers to one’s face or prestige. A beautiful woman’s complexion is often compared to the color of white jade. Therefore, 如玉 (rú yù) is an expression for complimenting on a woman’s beautiful face.

In the book titled “By the Great Horn Spoon”, the main character Praiseworthy, a gentlemanly butler managed to beat a burly hillbilly in a boxing match all because he had studied the strategy and tactics from a boxing instruction book. If you haven’t read this entertaining and educative book, here are the links to the audio files: Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxC3ywSnNSc, Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk-Xgqqxbmo

Although it helps to attend a Chinese language instruction class, you can study Chinese on your own if you can get hold of good books and audio material. Many of my readers have found “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” helpful. I am pleased to announce that this book is now available in ebook format. You can download it from amazon.com or Apple iBooks Store. If you’ve already purchased the printed book from amazon.com and wish to also get the ebook version, you can do so at amazon.com for a discounted MatchBook price. If you have any questions about learning Chinese, feel free to post a comment to any article on this blog site.

Sing Chinese song – Autumn Cicada

While enjoying a perfect autumn day, one that the Chinese describe as 秋高气爽 (qiūgāoqìshuǎng), with the sky clear and high, and the air cool and refreshing, I think of a song called 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.).

As mentioned in a lesson posted last fall, the word (chán Zen) sounds exactly the same as (chán cicadas). The cicadas are also called 知了 (zhīliǎo). I still remember hearing them sing in unison in the countryside, their loud chorus reverberating with the waves of the summer heat.

The song, 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.), was composed by 李子恒 (Lǐ Zǐhéng) while attending an apparently boring military education lecture in Taiwan. Later he made a few demo tapes for his girlfriend. Without telling him, his girl friend submitted one of the demo tapes to a major music contest in Taiwan. The song won the 1980 award for that competition and paved the way for Mr. Lee’s long and successful song-writing career.

At this link is a nice video of the song with the subtitles in traditional Chinese characters.

Click on this link to hear the song sung by a female performer. At that site the lyrics are provided in simplified Chinese characters.

The song is written in the first person, which is the cicada. The wording tends to be literary rather than conversational. The beautiful imagery of the autumn scenes float along with the soft, lilting melody.

听我 (tīng wǒ) means to listen to me saying or singing something. 看我 (kàn wǒ) means to watch me doing something.

Tīng wǒ jiǎng gè yǒuqù de gùshi.
Hear me recount an interesting story.

Kàn wǒ lái zhěng tā.
Wait and see me give him a hard time.

春水 (chūn shuǐ) is water in the spring. (jiào) is to call. (hán) means cold.

春天暖和, 冬天寒冷.
Chūntiān nuǎnhuo, dōngtián hánlěng.
It’s warm in the spring and cold in the winter.

绿叶 (lǜyè) are green leaves. (cuī) is to urge. (huáng) is yellow.

In the first two lines, the cicada tells you that its calls has cooled the water that was temperate in spring and urged the green leaves to turn yellow.

谁道 (shéi dào) is a literary way of saying 谁说 (shéi shuō), which means “Who is saying?”. (chóu) means to worry or to feel depressed.

烟波 (yānbō) are mist-covered waters and 林野 (lín yě) are woods in open country. (yì) refers to meanings, ideas, intentions or feelings. 幽幽 (yōuyōu) refers to distant, faint light or sound.

(huā) are flowers. (luò) is to fall down and (hóng) means red. (fēng) are maple trees. 花落红 (huā luò hóng) and 红了枫 (hóng liǎo fēng) are words put together to paint a picture and to sound good, but are not regularly used phrases. In the second phrase, (hóng) is used as a verb in the sense of coloring the maple leaves red.

Qiūtiān bǎ fēng yè rǎn hóng le.
Autumn has dyed the maple leaves red.

展翅 (zhǎnchì) means to spread the wings. (rèn), in this case, means to give free rein to. (xiáng) or 飞翔 (fēixiáng) means to fly. (shuāng) is a pair. (yǔ) are wings. They belong to the wild geese, or (yàn).

Then the cicada refers to his own flimsy wings as 薄衣 (báo yī), or thin clothing. When pronounced as (bó), this word means ungenerous or meager. Many people in Taiwan only use the latter pronunciation regardless of the intended meaning. This is reflected in both of the videos mentioned above.

(guò) here means to pass or to go through. In 残冬 (cán dōng the last days of winter), the (cán) is interpreted as 残留 (cánliú remaining).

总归是 (zǒngguī shì) means “after all it is”. (xià) means summer. (zǒu) and (qù) both refer to the seasons’ passing or leaving. (nóng) means dense, concentrated or intense.

美景 (měijǐng) is beautiful scenery. When autumn passes, the beautiful scenery will be no more, i.e. 不再 (bùzài be no longer). There is a typographic error in the simplified Chinese lyrics. It should read 秋去冬来 (qiū qù dōng lái Autumn leaves and winter arrives.) instead of 春去冬来 (chūn qù dōng lái Spring leaves and winter arrives.). What the singer sang is correct.

means to be busy, while 急忙 (jímáng) or 匆忙 (cōngmáng), or 匆匆 (cōngmáng) means hastily, or hurriedly.

莫教 (mò jiào) means “don’t let”. (shì) is to pass away or to die. It’s wishful thinking not to let the nice spring days slip away.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the cicada himself in the spot light.

Let’s welcome spring by learning the Chinese word radical – Walk

春 (chūn) Spring

春 (chūn) Spring

A lazy cloud parks up there in clear blue sky, and birds are chirruping all around. Come tomorrow, it will be officially spring. Let’s open our arms to welcome 春天 (chūntiān springtime).

迎接 (yíngjiē) is to meet or greet. 迎春 (yíng chūn) is an abbreviation for 迎接春天 (yíngjiē chūntiān). It is also the name for the winter jasmine, as well as the name of one of the female characters in 红楼梦 (hónglóumèng Dream of the Red Mansion).

(yíng greet, welcome) takes on the reduced form of the word radical for (zǒu to walk), i.e. . You see, when one greets enthusiastically, one will tend to move forward to embrace the person, the news or the event. As resembles the character (zhī), this radical is named 走之旁 (zǒu zhī páng), or 走之底 (zǒu zhī dǐ). (páng) means on the side, referring to the radical’s placement on the left side. (dǐ) means at the bottom, referring to the tail of this radical that extends underneath the remainder of the character.

We know that 欢喜 (huānxǐ) means to be happy or delighted. Therefore, 欢迎 (huānyíng) means to happily greet or welcome someone or something. 不受欢迎 (bùshòuhuānyíng) means unwelcome.

Tā shì quánguó zuì shòuhuānyíng de lánqiú míngxīng.
He is the most popular basketball star in the nation.

挑战 (tiǎozhàn) means to challenge or a challenge. 迎接挑战 (yíngjiē tiǎozhàn), or 迎战 (yíngzhàn), is to face a challenge.

迎面 (yíngmiàn) means coming in one’s face, or head-on. Therefore, 迎风 (yíngfēng) means facing the wind.

轻风迎面吹来, 非常舒服.
Qīngfēng yíngmiàn chuī lái, fēicháng shūfu.
Soft wind blows in my face; it feels so good.

迎合 (yínghé) means to cater to someone else’s wishes or taste. 逢迎 (féngyíng) is to fawn on or to curry favor with the rich and/or powerful.

(zhuī) is to chase, run after, or pursue. It is also the abbreviation for 追求 (zhuīqiú), which means to seek, to pursue or to court. 理想 (lǐxiǎng) is an ideal. 理想的 (lǐxiǎng de) is the adjective that means ideal or perfect. 追求理想 (zhuīqiú lǐxiǎng) is to pursue one’s ideals. On the other hand, 追求理想的配偶 (zhuīqiú lǐxiǎng de pèiǒu) means to court one’s ideal mate.

Kànlai Hēnglì zài zhuī lì shā.
Looks like Henry is courting Lisa.

(dá) as a verb means to reach a place, to attain a goal, or to successfully comminicate a message. For example, 传达消息 (chuándá xiāoxi) is to pass on a piece of information or news.

退 (tuì) is to step back, to retreat or to withdraw or cancel. So, 退租 (tuì zū) is to cancel a rental, such as a tenant terminating the renting of an apartment.

(yuǎn) means distant, far away or remote. The opposite is (jìn), or near.

(yāo), or 邀请 (yāoqǐng), is to invite or to solicit. Usually, if you say 邀请 (yāoqǐng) or (qǐng), you are expected to be the host and foot the bill. If you don’t intend to pay for the other party, then just say (yāo).

Wǒ xiǎng yāo nǐmen yītóng qù kàn diànyǐng.
I’d like to ask you to go together with me to watch a movie.

Following are a few words that contain the full-blown radical.

(fù) means to go to or attend an event. 赴约 (fù yuē) is to go to a date or appointment. 失约 (shīyuē) is to fail to keep an appointment or date.

(qǐ) means to rise, get up, stand up, set up, or start up. For example, 起床 (qǐchuáng) is to get out of bed.

(qù) means interest or fun. 有趣 (yǒuqù) means interesting or amusing. 志趣 (zhìqù) is one’s aspiration or inclination.

(gǎn) is to drive away, to catch up with or to dash for something.

Gǎnkuài lái!
Hurry and come!
(Or, in a commanding tone, “Get here this minute!”)

Now that you are getting a rush learning about the “walk” radical, hurry and look up other words that contain either form of the walk radical and that might be useful to add to your vocabulary.

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