Benjamin Franklin Aphorisms in Chinese

Lighting Rod
Benjamin Franklin invented the lighting rod.

On this fourth day of July, I think fondly of the oldest of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, who was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Benjamin Franklin contributed greatly to the American Revolution. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence, represented the United States in France during the American Revolution, and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

As a person, he was intelligent, industrious, benevolent, humerous and full of wisdom. It is his wisdom that we could probably borrow by minding some of the aphorisms he shared mainly through his annual Poor Richard’s Almanack publication.

The Chinese word for aphorism is 格言 (géyán). Here we go.

爱你的敌人, 因为他们会告诉你你的错误.
Ài nǐ de dírén, yīnwèi tāmen huì gàosù nǐ nǐ de cuòwù.
Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.

同狗一起上床的人会带着跳蚤起床.
Tóng gǒu yīqǐ shàngchuáng de rén huì dàizhe tiàozǎo qǐchuáng.
He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.

(上床 means go to bed, while 起床 means to get up from bed.)

说得好不如做得好.
Shuō dé hǎo bùrú zuò dé hǎo.
Well done is better than well said.

真正的朋友是最好的财产.
Zhēnzhèng de péngyǒu shì zuì hǎo de cáichǎn.
A true Friend is the best Possession.

失去的时间再也找不回来了.
Shīqù de shíjiān zài yě zhǎo bù huílái le.
Lost Time is never found again.

欲速则不达.
Yù sù zé bù dá.
Haste makes Waste.

你必须努力工作来实现你的目标.
Nǐ bìxū nǔlì gōngzuò lái shíxiàn nǐ de mùbiāo.
You have to work hard to achieve your goals.

告诉我, 我会忘记; 教我, 我可能会记住; 让我参与; 我就学会了.
Gàosù wǒ, wǒ huì wàngjì; jiào wǒ, wǒ kěnéng huì jì zhù; ràng wǒ cānyù, wǒ jiù xuéhuìle.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

爱你的邻居; 但不要拆掉你的栅栏.
Ài nǐ de línjū; dàn bùyào chāi diào nǐ de zhàlán.
Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge.

婚前睁大两眼, 婚后闭一只眼.
Hūnqián zhēng dà liǎng yǎn, hūn hòu bì yī zhī yǎn.
Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward.

人生的悲剧是我们老得太快, 而太晚得到智慧.
Rénshēng de bēijù shì wǒmen lǎo dé tài kuài, ér tài wǎn dédào zhìhuì.
Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

尖酸刻薄交不到朋友; 一勺蜂蜜比一加仑醋能捕到更多的苍蝇.
Jiānsuān kèbó jiāo bù dào péngyǒu; yī sháo fēngmì bǐ yī jiālún cù néng bǔ dào gèng duō de cāngyíng.
Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.

言多必失.
Yán duō bì shī.
He that speaks much is much mistaken.

对知识的投资总是能带来最大的利益.
Duì zhīshì de tóuzī zǒng shì néng dài lái zuìdà de lìyì.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that you read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. You can read a free copy of the ebook version at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20203/20203-h/20203-h.htm

七月四日快乐!
Qīyuè sìrì kuàilè!
Happy July 4th!

*** If you are looking for stories to read in Chinese, please check out “Inspiring Stories in Chinese”. This edition is in Simplified Chinese characters.

Sing “Los Politos Dicen” song in Chinese

Hen and Chicks

Chinese Brushpainting of Hen and Chicks

“Los Pollitos Dicen” (The Baby Chicks Are Saying) is a cute nursery rhyme that is popular in Latin America. If you are not familiar with the tune, please click on this link to hear what it sounds like in Spanish.

In the following, the English translation of the original lyrics is in italics. Below it is the English translation of my Chinese interpretation.

小鸡吱吱地叫:                                 The baby chicks go chirping:
Xiǎo jī zhī zhī de jiào                       The baby chicks are peeping:
妈妈快快来哟!                                 Pio, pio, pio,
Māmā kuài kuài lái yō!                    Mama come here, hurry!
我们肚子饿了,                                 When they feel so hungry;
Wǒmen dùzi èle,                             We are all so hungry,
我们也好冷哟!                                 When they feel they’re freezing.
wǒmen yě hǎo lěng yō!                  we are also freezing!
母鸡四处寻找                                  Mother hen goes searching
Mǔ jī sìchù xúnzhǎo                        Mother hen goes searching
小麦和玉蜀黍.                                 For wheat and for some maize.
xiǎomài hé yùshǔshǔ.                     for wheat and for some maize.
她要小鸡吃饱;                                She gives the chicks a feeding,
Tā yào xiǎo jī chī bǎo;                     She wants the chicks to be well fed;
她要小鸡舒服.                                And warms them with her embrace.
tā yào xiǎo jī shūfú.                        she wants the chicks to feel comfortable.
母鸡张开翅膀                                 Under the hen’s warm wings,
Mǔ jī zhāng kāi chìbǎng                 The hen opens her wings
盖著她的宝宝.                                The chicks snuggle and pack tight.
gàizhe tā de bǎobǎo.                     to cover her darling babies.
小鸡不再吵闹.                                No more noise and clamor,
Xiǎo jī bù zài chǎonào.                   No more noise and clamor,
他们乖乖睡著.                                They sleep all through the night.
tāmen guāiguāi shuìzhe.                they fall into slumber.
小鸡吱吱地叫:                                The baby chicks go chirping:
Xiǎo jī zhī zhī de jiào                      The baby chicks are peeping:
妈妈快快来哟!                                Pio, pio, pio,
Māmā kuài kuài lái yō!                   Mama come here, hurry!
我们肚子饿了,                                When they feel so hungry;
Wǒmen dùzi èle,                            We are all so hungry,
我们也好冷哟!                                When they feel they’re freezing.
wǒmen yě hǎo lěng yō!                  we are also freezing!
母鸡四处寻找                                 Mother hen goes searching
Mǔ jī sìchù xúnzhǎo                       Mother hen goes searching
小麦和玉蜀黍.                                For wheat and for some maize.
xiǎomài hé yùshǔshǔ.                    for wheat and for some maize.
小鸡吃得饱饱;                                She gives the chicks a feeding,
Xiǎo jī chī dé bǎo bǎo;                   The chicks are full and happy,
躲到妈妈怀里.                                And warms them with her embrace.
duǒ dào māmā huái lǐ.                   and they hide in mama’s embrace.
母鸡翅膀温馨,                                Under the hen’s warm wings,
Mǔ jī chìbǎng wēnxīn,                    The hen’s wings are warm and comfy,
好像被窝一样.                                The chicks snuggle and pack tight.
hǎoxiàng bèiwō yīyàng.                  just like a comforter.
小鸡闭上眼睛,                                Till the next sun shines bright,
Xiǎo jī bì shàng yǎnjīng,                 The baby chicks close their eyes,
一觉睡到天亮.                                They sleep all through the night.
yī jué shuì dào tiānliàng.                and sleep till the sun shines bright.

四处 (sìchù) means in all directions, or everywhere.

温馨 (wēnxīn) means heart-warming, whereas 温暖 (wēnnuǎn) could mean heart-warming or warm in the physical sense.

一觉睡到天亮 (yī jué shuì dào tiānliàng sleeping until daybreak) is the Chinese expression for sleeping through the night.

Singing songs, watching videos and reading stories are effective ways to learn a foreign language. After singing this song a few times, you should have added to your Chinese vocabulary as well as picked up a couple words in Spanish. Please check out “Learn Chinese through Song and Rhymes” if you don’t already have this book and the associated audio files.

Chinese idioms involving the dog

Puppy Figurine

If you forgot to make a New Year’s resolution, now is your chance to make a Chinese New Year’s resolution. My resolution this year is to complete one of the books that have been sitting on my back burner for years. This one is a cookbook for people who are prone to the migraine disease. If you are a fellow migraineur, stay tuned. Hopefully the Year of the Dog will lend me the required energy to get this e-book out soon.

Speaking of dogs, the very first song my mother taught me when I was little had these lines:

一只哈巴狗
Yī zhī hǎbagǒu
A Pekingese dog

蹲在大门口
dūn zài dàmén kǒu
squats at the front entrance,

眼睛黑黝黝
yǎnjing hēiyōuyōu
with eyes shiny black,

想吃肉骨头
xiǎng chī ròu gútou
wanting to eat a meaty bone.

Dogs, or 狗 (gǒu), have been man’s best friend for about 3300 years. However, they have received mixed reviews in regards to their personality. Their unparalleled loyalty, or 忠诚度 (zhōngchéng dù), and capacity for love make them heart-winning house pets, or 宠物 (chǒngwù). On the other hand, when their mean streaks surface, they are cute no more, and in both English and Chinese the word “dog” also equates to “damned” or “cursed”. Therefore there are quite a few commonly used Chinese idioms that do not feature dogs in the best light.

In general, keeping a dog in a home is regarded as auspicious. When you learn of a friend’s adopting a pet dog, you could congratulate him or her by saying:

狗来福.
Gǒu lái fú.
Dog comes and brings good fortune.

Dogs have much keener sense of smell, sight and hearing than human beings. They can protect a family by barking or yapping at strangers. It is believed that they are able to tell the good guys from the bad as well as the rich and powerful from the poor and dejected. When someone puts you down, you are apt to think:

哼! 狗眼看人低!
Hng! Gǒuyǎnkànrén dī!
Humph! What a snob (like a dog)!

Sometimes the dog makes a mistake, as in the following story. 呂洞賓 (Lǚ Dòngbīn) was a scholar in the Tang Dynasty. He was well known for his studies in Taoism, medicine and various other subject matters as well as his kind heart. People ranked him among one of the eight great immortals of that time. It came to pass that one day Lǚ saw a starving dog. Out of sympathy, he gave the dog the dumpling that he was eating. The dog devoured the dumpling, but turned around and bit Lǚ. If someone ill rewards your kindness, you could tell others about it by using this saying:

狗咬呂洞賓, 不识好人心.
Ggǒuyǎolǚdòngbīn, bù shì hǎorén xīn.
Dog bites Lǚ Dòngbīn; can’t recognize a good heart when it sees one.

Often a dog will threaten people on the strength of its master’s power. 狗仗人勢 (Gǒuzhàngrénshì) means to bully someone under the protection of a powerful superior.

Now, if a dog bothers you, but it has a powerful master, or if the dog’s master is your friend, you would think twice before hitting the dog. The following idiom teaches you to look at the bigger picture instead of reacting hastily in some situations.

打狗看主人.
Dǎ gǒu kàn zhǔrén.
Mind whose dog it is before you strike.

Like a cornered dog, a person who has run out of resources might do something desperate. 狗急跳牆 (gǒujítiàoqiáng) means that, in a dire situation, a dog could jump over a wall.

Literally 打落水狗 (dǎluòshuǐgǒu) is to beat a drowning dog. Figuratively it means to deal a blow to a person who has lost power or favor, or to completely crush a defeated enemy.

If you made an inexcusable blunder at your job, your boss might level a stream of abusive language at you. This is likened to a jet of dog blood sprayed onto your head, as in:

老板把我骂了个狗血噴頭.
Lǎobǎn bǎ wǒ mà le gè gǒuxuěpēntóu.
The boss gave me a piece of his mind.

People who love to advise others but only have inept or even bad advice to offer are referred to as 狗頭軍師 (gǒutóujūnshī). 军师 (jūnshī) is a military counsellor.

The following expressions involve the dog plus another animal.

狗咬耗子 (gǒu yǎo hàozi) translates to: “Dog bites rat.” It refers to people meddling in other people’s affairs, which are none of their business.

If someone, for whom you have little regard, utters crude language, offers useless advice, or writes a mediocre article, you might make this disparaging remark to a third party:

狗嘴里长不出象牙.
Gǒu zuǐ li zhǎng bù chū xiàngyá.
A dog’s mouth can’t grow ivory.
(What can a dog do but bark?)

挂羊头卖狗肉 (guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu) means to display a goat’s head but sell dog meat, in other words, to bait and switch.

狐群狗党 (húqúngǒudǎng) refers to a gang of scoundrels (compared to foxes and wild dogs). 群 (qún) is a group of people, a crowd or a heard of animals. 党 (dǎng) usually refers to a political party.

You might describe a cold-blooded or unscrupulous person as having a wolf’s heart and a dog’s lungs, as in 狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi).

偷鸡摸狗 (tōu jī mō gǒu) means to engage in petty dishonest activities, such as stealing or having extra-marital affairs. 偷 (tōu) is to steal, pilfer or to be on the sly. 摸 (mō) is to feel or touch.

In traditional Chinese families, people are of the opinion that a daughter who has been married off must stick with her husband regardless of what kind of person he is. Remember that in earlier times, marriages were arranged by the parents, and Chinese women did not have a choice of whom they married.

嫁雞隨雞,嫁狗隨狗.
Jià jī suí jī, jià gǒu suí gǒu.
If you married a chicken, follow the chicken,
and if you married a dog, follow the dog.

It is interesting to note that the original saying goes like this:

嫁乞随乞,嫁叟随叟.
Jià qǐ suí qǐ, jià sǒu suí sǒu.
If you married a beggar, follow the beggar,
and if you married an old man, follow the old man.

No matter which way the saying is phrased, it teaches the women to 认命 (rènmìng), i.e. to accept their fate and try to work out the differences to keep the marriage in harmony. I think that goes for men as well.

Yeah, check out Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes
to learn additional Chinese expressions, idioms and sayings.

情人节快乐!
Qíngrén Jié kuàilè!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

Happy Father’s Day in Mandarin Chinese

Father’s Day is coming around next Sunday. Here’s wishing every father on earth a Happy Father’s Day! 父亲节快乐! (Fùqin jié kuàilè!)

This brings to conscious mind a song I heard with my dear father at a friend’s house way back when. That song has stuck with me ever since. To hear Lys Assia’s rendition of the original German song, “O Mein Papa”, please click here.

To hear Eddie Fisher’s performance of the English version, please click here.

Not everyone has a talented clown as his or her dad. Nonetheless, each of our fathers, present or absent, played or is playing an important role in our lives. If you would like to sing to this soulful tune in Chinese, you could try the following lines. You may need to look up a word or two in your Chinese dictionary, but this simple song should be easy to comprehend. Please note that 多才多艺 (duōcáiduōyì) is a set phrase used for describing a gifted person with many talents. In the Chinese translation of the song, I’ve broken it into two parts to fill in the required number of beats.

我的爸爸 –
Wǒde bàba –
O my papa –

他多么有趣和滑稽.
Tā duōme yǒuqù hé huáji.
Was full of fun and amusing plays.
(He was so amusing and funny.)

我的爸爸 –
Wǒde bàba –
O my papa –

他多才又多艺.
Tā duōcái yòu duōyì.
Was gifted in many ways.

全世界上,
Quánshìjiè shàng,
In all the world,

唯有他天天都快活.
Wéi yǒu tā tiāntiān dōu kuàihuo.
None seemed as happy all year round.
(Only he is happy everyday.)

全世界上,
Quánshìjiè shàng,
In all the world,

唯有他不寂寞.
Wéi yǒu tā bù jìmò.
None had more friends around.
(Only he is not lonely.)

他的笑脸
Tāde xiàoliǎn
His smiling face

像春天阳光的温暖.
Xiàng chūntiān yángguāng de wēnnuǎn.
Was the balmy sunshine in the spring.

他的两眼
Tāde liǎng yǎn
His smiling eyes

像钻石晶光闪闪.
Xiàng zuànshí jīng guāng shǎnshǎn.
Were gleaming diamonds sparkling.

我的爸爸 –
Wǒde bàba –
O my papa –

他多么英勇和伟大.
Tā duōme yīngyǒng hé wěidà.
Was a hero everyone adored.
(He was so heroic and great.)

我的爸爸 –
Wǒde bàba –
O my papa –

我永远想念他.
Wǒ yǒngyuǎn xiǎngniàn tā.
I’ll miss him forevermore.

By the way, it happens to be the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival today.

端午节快乐!
Duānwǔjié kuàilè!
Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

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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