The Gift of the Magi Story in Chinese

Christmas Present

Christmas Present 圣誕禮物

What gifts will you be placing under the Christmas tree for your loved ones this coming holiday? It is no small feat choosing an appropriate gift for everyone on your list. Do you think you will get exactly what you have been wishing for? Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or, will you say, “Oh, no!” like Jim and Della in the short story “The Gift of the Magi” written by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)? Following is my version of the story retold in Chinese.

吉姆和德拉是一对贫穷的年轻夫妻.
Jímǔ hé Déla shì yīduì pínqióng de niánqīng fūqī.
Jim and Della were a young married couple who were struggling financially.

吉姆有只祖传的缺了表链的怀表.
Jímǔ yǒu yī zhī zǔchuan de quē le biǎo liàn de huáibiǎo.
Jim owned an heirloom pocket watch that lacked a watch chain.

那是他最珍爱的物品.
Nà shì tā zuì zhēn’ài de wùpǐn.
It was his most treasured possession.

德拉最引以为傲的则是她美丽的长头发.
Déla zuì yǐn yǐ wéi ào de zé shì tā měilì de cháng tóufa.
As for Della, her pride and joy was her beautiful long hair.

圣诞节就要到了.
Shèngdànjié jiùyào dàole.
Christmas was approaching.

两人没有钱为心愛的人买圣诞礼物,
Liǎng rén méiyǒu qián wèi xīn’ài de rén mǎi shèngdàn lǐwù,
Not having money to buy Christmas presents for their beloved,

心中非常着急.
xīnzhōng fēicháng zháojí.
the two felt frustrated.

圣诞夜吉姆下班回家时, 吃了一惊.
Shèngdànyè Jímǔ xiàbān huíjiā shí, chī le yī jīng.
On Christmas Eve Jim was shocked when he came home from work.

“德拉, 你的头发怎么剪掉了?”
“Déla, nǐ de tóufa zěnme jiǎn diào le?”
“Della, how come you’ve cut off your hair?”

德拉取出一条白金表链給吉姆看.
Déla qǔchū yī tiáo báijīn biǎo liàn gěi Jímǔ kàn.
Della showed Jim a watch chain made of platinum.

她说: “我卖了头发, 买了這個送给你.”
Tā shuō: “Wǒ mài le tóufa, mǎi le zhègè sòng gěi nǐ.”
She said, “I sold my hair and bought this for you.”

吉姆缓缓地拿出他要送给德拉的礼物.
Jímǔ huǎnhuǎn de ná chū tā yào sòng gěi Déla de lǐwù.
JIm slowly produced the present he was giving to Della.

原来, 他把怀表当了,
Yuánlái, tā bǎ huáibiǎo dàng le,
It turned out that he had pawned his pocket watch

为德拉买了一套精美的发饰.
wèi Déla mǎi le yī tào jīngměi de fà shì.
and bought a set of elegant decorative combs for Della.

两人含情脈脈, 投入了對方的懷抱.
Liǎng rén hánqíngmòmò, tóurù le duìfāng de huáibào.
With tenderness in their eyes, the two threw themselves into each other’s embrace.

圣诞快乐!
Shèngdàn kuàilè!
Merry Christmas!

** The links for a few of my books are listed below:

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on amazon.com

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on books.apple.com

Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes on kobo.com

English Edition of The Little Monk

Traditional Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on amazon.com

Simplified Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on kobo.com

Simplified Chinese Edition of The Little Monk on books.apple

My Fatima

Tame Migraine the Delicious Way

If you enjoyed reading the ebook, please post a book review at amazon.com for it. Thanks much!

Speaking of book reviews, if you would like to read some of the book reviews I’ve written, please click on this link: “Book Reviews I’ve Written“.

Happy 2020!

 

Sing “I am a Cloud” in Chinese

Cirrocumulus Clouds (Mackerel Clouds)

Cirrocumulus Clouds (Mackerel Clouds)

The traditional Chinese character for clouds is (yún). Like (diàn electricity), it lost the “rain” radical in the conversion to the Simplified Chinese character set.

In classical Chinese (yún) means to say or to state. In the Simplified Chinese character system, it means clouds.

The clouds, suspended in the sky or moving freely above, out of reach, ephemeral and unfathomable, is often compared to the transitory nature of certain human affairs. It also represents freedom and a carefree state of mind. The term 风云人物 (fēngyúnrénwù man of the day) likens prominent personages that command people’s attention to the powerful movement of vigorous winds and clouds.

(xiāo) means clouds or the sky. Therefore, 云霄 (yúnxiāo) refers to the skies. 九霄云外 (jiǔxiāoyúnwài) means beyond the highest heavens or skies.

有你在身边, 我把一切烦恼抛到了九霄云外.
Yǒu nǐ zài shēnbiān, wǒ bǎ yīqiè fánnǎo pāo dào le jiǔxiāoyúnwài.
With you by my side, I cast all my worries to outer space.

戒心 (jièxīn) means vigilance. Therefore 把戒心抛到九霄云外 (bǎ jièxīn pāo dào jiǔxiāoyúnwài) means to throw caution to the winds.

烟消云散 (yānxiāoyúnsàn) means to vanish into thin air. You could use this phrase to describe an interest or desire, the memory of a certain event, or the disintegration of an entity.

The phrase 过眼云烟 (guòyǎnyúnyān) likens worldly possessions, such as riches and fame, to transitory clouds and smokes.

我们的那段情不过是过眼云烟..
Wǒmén de nèi duàn qíng bùguò shì guòyǎnyúnyān.
That love affair of ours was nothing but a passing waft of smoke.

天有不测风云 (tiānyǒubùcèfēngyún) means something unexpected may suddenly happen just like a storm may abruptly arise out of nowhere. This line is paired with 人有旦夕祸福 (rényǒudànxīhuòfú), which means that one may find good fortune or go to ruins overnight. When you hear of a misfortune befalling a movie star or an acquaintance, you would shake your head and say:

天有不测风云, 人有旦夕祸福.
Tiānyǒubùcèfēngyún, rényǒudànxīhuòfú.

All right, here is a popular song, titled 我是一片云 (Wǒ shì yī piàn yún I am a Cloud), sung by 凤飞飞 (Fèng Fēifēi). This short song expresses in simple wording a common sentiment. Don’t we all wish to be as carefree as a cloud?

The lyrics in Simplified Chinese can be found here.

(zhāo) is the classical word for morning or day. (mù) is the classical word for evenings or sunset. We’ve come across these words in the phrase 朝朝暮暮 (zhāozhāomùmù day and night, or all the time).

If you remember from one of our early lessons, (shēng) means to go up or to elevate.

自在 (zìzai) means at ease and being comfortable with oneself. 潇洒 (xiāosǎ) means carefree and unrestrained, like a splash of water.

我的男朋友英俊又潇洒.
Wǒ de nánpéngyǒu yīngjùn yòu xiāosǎ.
My boyfriend is handsome and cool.

(shēn) is the abbreviation of 身体 (shēntǐ body or health). In this song, this word refers to the body.
(suí) means to follow.
(hún) is the soul or the spirit.
(mèng) are dreams.
(fēi) means to fly.
无牵挂 (wú qiānguà) means without worry or care.

You might also be interested in watching a couple other related videos. In this one, the singer dedicates the song to a fan. In the introductory remark, the singer told her fan that although her album may have given the latter the courage to continue with life, it was the doctor’s skills that saved the fan’s life. The tears in the singer’s eyes reveal genuine feelings from the heart. At the end of the performance the singer encourages her fan to continue to be courageous and strong – 继续勇敢坚强. (Jìxù yǒnggǎn jiānqiáng.)

The video at this link shows a number of the singer’s fans singing this song together. Why not join in the fun?

Learn Chinese radicals that look so darned similar

ll-Poinsettia-12-18-12-s

圣诞红 (shèngdàn hóng) Poinsettia

One of my complaints about the Simplified Chinese Character system is the over-simplification of the radical for “word” or “speech”. The character (yán) has been reduced to a squiggle that’s easily confused with the radical for “water”, namely . In fact, in freehand writing, many people I know write the “water” radical just like . Therefore, when someone trained on the Traditional Chinese Character system reads something printed in Simplified Chinese Character system, he or she will often need to make educated guesses based on the context of the material. Actually, that’s what you should generally do when reading Chinese text – Try to understand the function of the characters within the context rather than fussing too much over each individual character.

Rivers, (hé), lakes, (hú) and ditches, (gōu), all take on the water radical. 流蕩 (liúdàng) is to rove or roam about. (yóu) means to wander, to tour, or to swim. We can combine these two and make a new term 游蕩 (yóu dàng) for playing and wandering about.

When water freezes and there is less of the liquid portion, you’d lose a drop of water from the radical and get the “ice” radical, .

(bīng) means ice or icy-cold. 冰箱 is a refrigerator

(lěng) means cold or to feel cold.

你冷吗?
Nǐ lěng ma?
Do you feel cold?

我的饭厅里有一台冷气机.
Wǒde fàntīng lǐ yǒu yī tái lěngqì jī.
In my dining room there is an air conditioner.

(dòng) means to freeze or to feel very cold, and 冷冻 (lěngdòng) means to freeze something. 防冻剂 (fángdòngjì) is an antifreeze. On the other hand, 果冻 (guǒ dòng) is a fruit jelly, not really frozen.

We’ve seen how the “clothes” radical and the “altar” radical differ only by one tiny mark. You will do well to remember that words having to do with divinity, ancestry, or 祖先 (zǔxiān), ceremony, rites, manners or gifts take on the “altar” radical, while things related to clothing or covering take on the “clothes” radical.

我想买一件衬衫.
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī jiàn chènshān.
I’d like to buy a shirt.

We’ve mentioned the “small ear” (9/19/12) before. This is also known as the “soft” ear radical. There is another “small ear” radical that we call the “hard” ear radical because of its stright, rigid outline. This is what it looks like: , and it is not to be confused with .

(jǐ) means oneself or one’s own. This radical is found in many other words, such as (jì to remember, to mark or to record) and (jì to be envious or jealous, to dread or to regard as a taboo). Look really close at this one: (yǐ already, to end), which is a totally different word. There are also words containing the (sì) radical, which features a fully closed rectangle, such as (bāo to wrap, to surround, to take care of the whole deal), and (sì to offer sacrifice for worshiping).

(shí) is the radical representing (shí food, to eat). Don’t confuse it with the “metal” radical (jīn).

In the word, 饭馆 (fànguǎn restaurant), both characters take on the “food” radical.

(líng) is a bell, and 门铃 (mén líng) is a doorbell.

We’ve learned quite a few words using the radical for “word” or “speech”. (8/10/11) Here is another one. (dàn) means birthday or to be fantastic or absurd. 诞生 (dànshēng) means to be born or to take form. 耶稣 (Yēsū) is the Chinese word for Jesus Christ. Therefore, some people refer to Christmas as 耶诞节 (Yēdàn Jié), or the day Jesus Christ was born.

More often than not, Christmas is called 圣诞节 (Shèngdàn Jié). (shèng) means holy or sacred. As a noun it refers to a sage, a holy being or an emperor. The jolly dear old Santa Claus is called 圣诞老人 (shèngdànlǎorén).

By the way, you can download a free printable radical reference list provided by Chris at http://chinesehacks.com/resources/simplified-chinese-radicals-list-version-4-available-for-download/

Now let’s get into the holiday spirit and sing the following lines to the tune of “Jingle Bells”.

叮叮当, 叮叮当.
Dīng dīng dāng, dīng dīng dāng.
Ding-ding-dong, ding-ding-dong.

铃儿响叮当.
Líng er xiǎng dīng dāng.
Bells are ringing out.

快快活活地乘雪橇
Kuàikuàihuóhuó di chéng xuěqiāo,
Happily riding a snow sleigh,

四处去游荡.
Sìchù qù yóudàng.
Roaming all about.

(Repeat the above lines once to complete the refrain.)

圣诞快乐﹗
Shèngdàn kuàilè﹗

Merry Christmas!

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