Autumn Leaves in Chinese

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Sunshine today, rain tomorrow. Colorful leaves come tumbling down like snowflakes. There’s no mistaking that autumn is here. Sandwiched between the hottest and the coldest seasons, spring and fall scenes tend to be the favorite subject matter for poems and songs. The very popular “Autumn Leaves” was originally a French song (“Les Feuilles Mortes” – The Dead Leaves), with music by Joseph Kosma and lyric by Jacques Prévert. You can hear Nat King Cole sing the English version by clicking on this link.

Today we will interpret the English lyric written by Johnny Mercer in Chinese prose. You might imagine yourself writing a letter to a sweetheart who has been away for some time. To flesh out the verses, it is necessary to add words here and there that are not in the original lines but we will try to keep the embellishment to a minimum so as not to be guilty of exaggeration. In Chinese, embellishing and exaggerating a story when retelling it to another person is called 添枝加叶 (tiānzhījiāyè add branches and leaves), 加盐加醋 (jiā yán jiā cù add salt and vinegar), or 加油添酱 (jiā yóu tiān jiàng add oil and a thick sauce).

(tiān), like (jiā), means to add or to increase.

Try and see if you can get the meaning of any unfamiliar words by reading them in the following context.

Qiūtiān de yèzi piāo guò wǒde chuānghù.
The autumn leaves float by my window.

秋天的叶子, 有的绯红, 有的金黄.
Qiūtiān de yèzi, yǒude fēihóng, yǒude jīnhuáng.
Some of the autumn leaves are bright red, some are golden yellow.

Wǒ yǎnqián fúxiàn nǐ fēngmǎn de zuǐchún,
Before my eyes your plump lips appear,

shǐ wǒ xiǎngqǐ wǒmén xià rì de rè wěn.
bringing back the memory of our hot kisses in the summer.

Wǒ yě xiǎngqǐ nǐ nà shài hēi le de shǒu,
I also recall your sun-burned hand,

yǐjí wǒmén yǐqián shǒu qiān shǒu de qíngjǐng
and how we used to hold hands.

自从你离开以后, 日子变得漫长难挨.
Zìcóng nǐ líkāi yǐhòu, rìzi biàn de màncháng nán ái.
Since you left, the days have become long and hard to endure.

Zài bùjiǔ jiù huì tīngdào dōngtián qīliáng de gē shēng.
Pretty soon we will hear the sound of winter’s desolate song.

但是, 亲爱的, 我最想念你的时候
Dànshì, qīnài de, wǒ zuì xiǎngniàn nǐ de shíhòu
However, beloved, the time I miss you the most

háishì zài qiū yè kāishǐ diào luò de shíjié.
is still when the autumn leaves start to fall.

(fú) means to float. It also means superficial, flighty, or unstable (xiàn) means to appear, to show, being at the present, or existing. 浮现 (fúxiàn) means to appear in one’s mind.

丰满 (fēngmǎn) means well developed or plenty.

晒黑 (shài hēi) is how the Chinese describes getting tanned by the sun. The Chinese word for “to burn” is (shāo). If the skin is indeed injured by the burn, you would use 烧伤了 (shāoshāng le) to describe it.

以及 (yǐjí) means as well as.

情景 (qíngjǐng) means scene or circumstance.

自从 (zìcóng since) is a conjunctive used in forming complex sentences.

漫长 (màncháng) means very long, and 凄凉 (qīliáng) means bleak or miserable.

秋叶 (qiū yè autumn leaves) is the short form of 秋天的叶子 (Qiūtiān de yèzi).

掉落 (diào luò) means to fall or drop.

时节 (shíjié) is time or season.

Chinese word radical – Mouth

(kǒu) is the formal word for the mouth. It also means an opening or a gateway. For the sake of safety, when you are inside a large building, always make sure you know the location of the nearest exit, or 出口 (chūkǒu).

Qǐngwèn chūkǒu zài nǎli?
Please, where is the exit?

请问 means “May I ask …” This is a very important word to know by heart. Asking questions is an effective way to obtain the needed information.

开口 (kāikǒu) means to open one’s mouth and start talking. When asked why you failed to borrow some money from a friend, you might say:

Wǒ bùhǎoyìsi kāikǒu.
I’m too bashful (or embarrassed) to bring it up.

闭口 (bì kǒu) means to close one’s mouth.

开口闭口 (kāikǒubìkǒu) means whenever one opens one’s mouth to speak.

Tā kāikǒubìkǒu shuō tā yǒu duōme hǎo.
He never fails to mention how nice she is.

There’s a Chinese adage that emphasizes the importance of watching what comes out or goes into one’s mouth: “Trouble comes from what you say; illness comes from what you eat.” If you don’t remember this Chinese saying, please review the article I posted on 2/22/12 .

In everyday speech, we refer to the mouth as (zuǐ) or 嘴巴 (zuǐba).

嘴脸 (zuǐliǎn) is one’s countenance. This word is usually employed in a negative sense.

Tā děi kàn tā lǎobǎn de zuǐliǎn chīfàn.
He has to cater to his boss to earn a living.

嘴甜 (zuǐtián) is to be sweet-talking, such as in 她嘴甜. (Tā zuǐtián. She is honey-tongued.)

多嘴 (duōzuǐ) is to say things that should probably not have been said.

回嘴 (huízuǐ) or 还嘴 (huánzuǐ) is to talk back or to retort. When you do that to your boss, he or she may yell, “闭嘴! (Bì zuǐ! Shut up!)” or “住口! (zhùkǒu! Stop talking!)”

亲嘴 (qīnzuǐ), like 接吻 (jiēwěn), means to kiss.

If you need to buy a nipple for your baby’s feeding bottle, ask for a 奶嘴 (nǎizuǐ).

It is interesting to note that 嘴角 (zuǐjiǎo) are the corners of the mouth, while 口角 (kǒujué a quarrel or to quarrel) has a totally different meaning.

We have already come across a number of word particles that make use the mouth radical, such as (ma) and (ba). Following are a few additional examples of words that involve the mouth.

(xī) is to inhale, to suck up, or to draw in. 吸管 (xīguǎn) is a drinking straw.

(tūn) means to swallow, while (tù) means to vomit, as in 嘔吐 (ǒutù).

also means to spit out. In this case, it may be pronounced in the third tone or in the fourth tone. Generally, use the third tone when by spitting out you mean “to utter”, as in 吐露 (tǔlù to reveal or to disclose). Use the fourth tone for a more forceful expectorating action, as in 吐血 (tùxiě spitting blood).

吞吞吐吐 (tūntūntǔtǔ) describes how one hems and haws around, unable to be forthright with what’s on one’s mind.

(chuī) is to blow, to play a wind instrument or to brag. Colloquially, it also means to have broken up or fallen through. 吹牛 (chuīniú) is to blow one’s own horn. 吹风机 (chuīfēngjī) is an electric blower, like a hair dryer.

Tāmen liǎng gè chuī le.
The two broke up.

打嗝 (dǎ gé) is to belch.

叹气 (tànqì) is to sigh. How do you sigh in Chinese? Following is an example.

唉! 真可惜.
Ái! Zhēn kěxī.
(Sigh) What a pity! (Too bad!)

(mà) is to scold or to curse.

(yǎ) means dumb or mute.

Tā zhuānglóngzuòyǎ.
He pretends to be deaf and dumb.
(He feigns ignorance.)

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