How to say Halloween in Chinese?

Witch flying on broom

NYC, here I come!

Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day. In Chinese, it is called 万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié), or ten thousand saints’ festival, which is not generally observed in Asian countries. In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, those who have passed away are remembered at the Night of the Ghosts, or 中元節 (zhōngyuán jié), which falls the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.

As you know, 巫婆 (wūpó witches), 妖怪 (yāoguài monsters, demons) and carved pumpkins, or 南瓜 (nánguā), feature prominently at Halloween.

Memory took me back to Halloween a few years ago when I had to take a red-eye flight to New York City on business.

万圣节那天下午,我去雜貨店買了一支旅行用的牙膏.
Wàn Shèng Jié nàtiān xiàwǔ, wǒ qù záhuò diàn mǎile yī zhī lǚxíng yòng de yágāo.
That afternoon on Halloween Day I went to the grocers to buy a travel-size tube of toothpaste.

因為我的舊掃帚已經用壞了,
Yīnwei wǒ de jiù sàozhǒu yǐjīng yòng huài le,
As my old broom had been worn out,

我也順便買了一支新的掃帚.
wǒ yě shùnbiàn mǎile yī zhī xīn de sàozhǒu.
I also grabbed a new broom.

結帳時店員好意地問我,
Jié zhàng shí, diànyuán hǎoyì dì wèn wǒ,
At the checkout stand the friendly clerk asked me,

“你今天晚上準備做些什麼?”
Nǐ jīntiān wǎnshàng zhǔnbèi zuò xiē shénme?
“What are you planning to do tonight?”

我回答說, “我今天晚上要飛到紐約去.”
Wǒ huídá shuō, “Wǒ jīntiān wǎnshàng yào fēi dào Niǔyuē qù.”
I replied, “I’m flying to New York tonight.”

他看了我的掃帚一眼,
Tā kànle wǒ de sàozhǒu yīyǎn,
He eyed my broom for a moment,

然後帶著將信將疑的微笑說,
ránhòu dàizhe jiāngxìnjiāngyí de wéixiào shuō,
and then said with an incredulous smile,

“哦, 是嗎?”
” Ó, shì ma?”
“Oh, yeah?”

我後悔當時沒有也買了一頂黑色的有尖頂的巫婆帽.
Wǒ hòuhuǐ dāngshí méiyǒu yě mǎile yī dǐng hēisè de yǒu jiāndǐng de wūpó mào.
I regret not having also picked up a black witch hat with a pointed top.

万圣节快乐!
Wànshèngjié kuàilè!
Happy Halloween!

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.

听我讲个有趣的故事.
Tīng wǒ jiǎng gè yǒuqù de gùshi.
Hear me recount an interesting story.

看我来整他.
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.

秋天把枫叶染红了.
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.

Learn Chinese word radical – Eye

眼睛 (yǎnjīng)

The formal word for eyes is (mù). In ordinary speech we call the eyes 眼睛 (yǎnjing).

The eyebrow also takes on the “eye” radical. It is called (méi) or 眉毛 (méimao).

(kàn) and (qiáo) both mean to look or to see.

(pàn) is to look forward to, or to long for.

睁开眼 (zhēng kāi yǎn) is to open the eyes, as when one wakes up in the morning.

他不睁开眼.
Tā bù zhēng kāi yǎn.
He will not open his eyes.

In the following sentence, (bù not) is the adverb associated with (kāi). This results in a different meaning.

他累得睁不开眼.
Tā lèi de zhēng bù kāi yǎn.
He is so tired he cannot open his eyes.

(zhǎ) is to blink.

他向我眨眨眼.
Tā xiàng wǒ zhǎ zhǎ yǎn.
He winked at me.

打盹 (dǎ dǔn) is to doze off.

睡眠 (shuì mián) means slumber. It is used as a noun.

(xiā) and (máng) both mean to be blind. These words are often used as adverbs to describe how things are done haphazardly or without purpose.

According to an old English proverb, the eyes are the window to the soul.

眼睛是灵魂之窗.
Yǎnjing shì línghún zhī chuāng.

The song named (chuāng Window) expresses this idea through some cute verses and a lilting melody. Click on “Show more” to see the lyrics in Traditional Chinese characters.

You can find the lyrics in Simplified Chinese characters here.

会说的眼睛 (huì shuō de yǎnjing) means eyes that can talk.

含有 (hán yǒu) means to contain.

多少 (duōshao) can be construed as either “how much” or “quite a bit”, depending on the context. Here it is used to indicate that the eyes convey quite a bit of feelings.

情意 (qíngyì) is tender affection or goodwill.

默默 (mòmò) means quietly or silently, without saying anything

In the context of this song, 相对 (xiāngduì) means facing each other.

欲言又止 (yù yán yòu zhǐ) is a commonly used expression that describes how you have something to say but hesitate because of shyness, concern for the consequence of saying it, or some other reason.

In the second stanza, the singer tries to make out what this pair of affectionate eyes is really trying to say. Is it an encouragement, 鼓励 (gǔlì)? Is it a revelation, 启示 (qǐshì)? Is it the glory of life, 生的光辉 (shēng de guānghuī), or is it the seed of love, 爱的种子 (ài de zhǒngzǐ)?

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