Using Chinese idioms in writing

Rufous Hummingbird hovering around     Blueberry Blossoms

Here is an account of my recent encounter with a Rufous hummingbird. I have highlighted the popular four-character Chinese idioms featured in this article. It will also be good for you to look at how some of the adverbs and conjunctives are used in the sentences. are discussed in Chapters 17, 18 and 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

又是大地回春, 万象更新的时节.
Yòu shì dàdì huíchūn wànxiàng gēngxīn de shíjié.
It’s that season again when the earth springs back to life anew.

Yuán li de lánméi guànmù kāi mǎn le xiǎoqiǎolínglóng de bái huār.
The blueberry bushes in the garden are full of little white blossoms.

Mìfēng chuānsuō qíjiān cǎijí huāmì jí huāfěn.
The bees go from one floweret to another to collect nectar and pollens.

ǒu’ěr yě yǒu fēngniǎo guānggù,
Occasionally a hummingbird visits,

dànshì wǎngwǎng yīzhǎyǎn jiù bùjiànle.
but it usually disappears in a blink of the eyes.

Wǒ yīzhí xīwàng nénggòu lù dào fēngniǎo de yǐngpiàn,
I’ve always wished to be able to capture a video the hummingbird,

dànshì méiyǒu xiánkòng lái shǒuzhūdàitù
but I don’t have the time to sit there and wait for the bird to appear.

Nǎtiān wǒ zhèngzài wèi xīn zhòng de shūcài pāizhào,
That day, while taking pictures of the newly planted vegetables,

hūrán tīngdào fēngniǎo zhèn chì de wēngwēng shēng.
I suddenly heard the hum of rapid flapping of wings.

Wǒ gǎnmáng qiēhuàn dào lùyǐng móshì,
I quickly switched to the video mode,

jìngrán lù dào le xiǎo fēngniǎo xīyǔn huāmì de jǐngxiàng,
and actually captured a scene of the little hummer sucking nectar.

lìng xǐchūwàngwài.
I was pleasantly surprised. (This gave me unexpected joy.)

Xiǎngbì nǐmen yě huì tì wǒ gāoxìng nénggòu rúyuànyǐcháng.
I think you will also be happy for me for having had my wish fulfilled.

大地 (dàdì) is the earth or Mother Earth.
回春 (huíchūn) means returning to spring or bringing back to life.
万象 (wànxiàng) refers to all phenomena on earth.
更新 (gēngxīn) is to renew.
花蜜 (huāmì) is nectar.
花粉 (huāfěn) means pollen.
蓝莓 (lán méi) are blueberries.
小巧玲珑 (xiǎoqiǎolínglóng) means tiny and exquisite.
灌木 (guànmù) is a shrub or a bush.
蜜蜂 (mìfēng) are honeybees or bees in general.
穿梭 (chuānsuō) is to shuttle back and forth.
其间 (qíjiān), as used here, means “among them”.
偶尔 (ǒu’ěr) means occasionally.
蜂鸟 (fēngniǎo) are hummingbirds.
光顾 (guānggù) is to patronize.
往往 (wǎngwǎng) means often or frequently.
一眨眼 (yīzhǎyǎn) means in an eyewink.
不见了 (bùjiànle) is to disappear or to be missing.
一直 (yīzhí) as an adverb means all along or all the way.
希望 (xīwàng) is to hope or to expect.
(lù) is to record or to write down.
影片 (yǐngpiàn) is a movie or video clip.
闲空 (xiánkòng ) is spare time or leisure.
守株待兔 (shǒuzhūdàitù) describes a person standing by a tree stump to wait for hares to come and dash themselves against it. It means to wait for windfalls.
那天 (nǎtiān) means that day or a certain day.
蔬菜 (shūcài) are vegetables.
拍照 (pāizhào) is to take a picture.
忽然 (hūrán) means suddenly.
切换 (qiēhuàn) is to switch to a different mode.
录影 (lù yǐng) is to record a video.
模式 (móshì) is a mode or method.
竟然 (jìngrán) is an adverb that means unexpectedly.
吸允 (xī yǔn) is to suck up.
景象 (jǐngxiàng) is a scene or a sight.
喜出望外 (xǐchūwàngwài) is a common expression that means to be overjoyed or pleasantly surprised.
想必 (xiǎngbì) means “I think, most likely…”
如愿以偿 (rúyuànyǐcháng) is a common expression for having one’s wish fulfilled.

The Chinese word radical “Pig”

The Chinese word for home or family is (jiā) or 家庭 (jiātíng). For “home, sweet home”, you could say: 甜蜜的家 (tiánmì de jiā).

Tā yǒu yī gè měimǎn de jiātíng.
He has a perfectly happy family.

Click on this link to listen to a beautiful song written by the very talented song writer and movie director, 刘家昌 (Liú Jiāchāng). The title of the song, 我家在那里 (Wǒ Jiā Zài Nàli) could be translated as “That’s Where My Home Is”, or, if you like, “Home on the Prairie”.

The action word for a woman marrying into another family is: (jià).

Zhù Yīngtái bù yuànyì jià gěi Mǎ Wéncái.
Zhu Yingtai did not want to marry Ma Wencai.
(Ref: The Butterfly Lovers)

Furniture is called 傢具 (jiājù), and 傢伙 (jiāhuǒ fellow) is an informal (generally disrespectful) way of referring to a person. 傢伙 (jiāhuǒ) is also used colloquially to refer to a hand tool or a hand weapon.

If you will notice, the character (jiā home) features a roof at the top. Under the roof is the character (shǐ), the formal word for pigs. It used to be that in the Chinese and Taiwanese villages, many families raised pigs for food. A pig under the roof indicates well-being and security. To the Chinese, pigs symbolize prosperity, good fortune as well as avarice, laziness and sloppiness.

Nowadays, pigs and hogs are called (zhū), and the word for pork is 豬肉 (zhūròu). By the way, unlike humans and many other animals, pigs don’t get milk teeth, or 乳牙 (rǔ yá), but just have one set of permanent teeth.

I guess if you blow up a pig’s body and add a huge head and long trunk to it, you will get an elephant, or (xiàng). (xiàng) also represents appearances and phenomena, such as in 氣象 (qìxiàng meteorology).

With the “person” word root on the left side, (xiàng) is the word for a portrait or a picture. It also serves as the verb that means “to look like”.

Tā zhǎng de xiàng tā yéye.
He takes after his grandpa.

(zhuó) is to peck. (See the mouth radical on the left side?)

(zhú) is to chase or drive out. It also means “one by one”.

(duì) is a team or a row of people.

遽然 (jùrán) means suddenly. It is interchangeable with 忽然 (hūrán suddenly).

Tā jùrán tuī le wǒ yīxià.
He suddenly gave me a push.

Although dogs are men’s best friends and pigs have proven to be quite intelligent, traditionally they have not earned a high opinion with the Chinese.

豬狗不如 (zhūgǒubùrú) means to be worse than pigs and dogs.

狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi) means to be cruel and ungrateful, like having the heart of a wolf and the lungs of a dog.

The fox does not fare any better. 狐假虎威 (hújiǎhǔwēi) means to bully other people by flaunting one’s powerful connections, like a fox trailing a tiger to scare people off.

On the other hand, the mythical dragon, (lóng) is greatly respected and held in awe. Why, it represents the power of the Chinese emperor himself. (lóng) is also a symbol of good luck. This year, 2012, happens to be the Year of the Dragon, or 龍年 (lóng nián).

望子成龍 (wàngzichénglóng) is a phrase describing the fervent wish for one’s son to excel and become successful.

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