Sing “Pearly Shells” in Chinese

Picked Blackberries

Picked Blackberries


Blue, blue my world is blue – the good kind of blue from the luscious blueberries (藍莓 lán méi) and blackberries (黑莓 hēi méi) in my yard begging to be picked. Duty-bound I don a white shirt with long sleeves, grab a 1 1/2 quart plastic container and head outside. It is my responsibility to unleash my gatherer instinct and free those anxious berries from their bondage to the same old bushes under the scorching sun.

What precision it takes to pluck each and every blackberry without being poked or scratched by the vicious thorns! And what delight it is to gently roll or rub a bunch of blueberries and nudge the ripe ones into the container! It does take some nerves, though, to work alongside the honeybees (蜜蜂 mìfēng) and not be intimidated by their constant buzzes and hums. My white shirt makes me basically invisible to these flying stingers. I just need to be careful not to pick from the same bunch the bees are after. Some of them zip around at lower elevations and bump into my long trousers once in a while.

An hour or so later, I come back inside with a quart of each kind of berries, fully intending to elevate their status to velvety berry sauces, to-die-for pies, or glistening jams and jellies. Alas, that is not to be. Eager hands fall upon the berries and plop them into eager mouths. Within minutes all berries are gone.

Oh well. Anyhow it’s too hot to be in the kitchen baking, canning or, for that matter, cooking. I stretch out on my favorite chair and dream about a vacation in Hawaii (夏威夷 xiàwēiyí). I imagine myself walking barefoot along the coastline, now and then picking up a seashell to admire. I come upon a group of adorable kids singing “Pearly Shells“. I smile and say, “Aloha!”

You might try singing the first part of this cute song in Chinese by substituting the English lyrics with the following lines.

小贝壳,来自海洋,
Xiǎo bèiké,láizì hǎiyáng,
Little shells that came from the ocean,

遍布沙滩上,
biànbù shātān shàng,
spread all over the sandy beach,

阳光下发亮.
yángguāng xià fāliàng.
glisten under the sunshine.

看见它们,
Kànjian tāmen,
Seeing them,

我心明白我爱的是你,
wǒ xīn míngbai wǒ ài de shì nǐ
my heart knows that the one I love is you,

尽管那些贝壳有多美丽.
jǐnguǎn nàxiē bèiké yǒu duō měilì.
despite the beauty of all the pearly shells.

来自 (láizì) means to come from a place. In Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes we came across this word while singing the phrase “I come from Alabama” in the song “Oh Susanna”. We use this word more often in writing than in speaking. Colloquially you would say “The little shells came from the ocean.” as follows:

小贝壳是从海洋来的.
Xiǎo bèiké shì cóng hǎiyáng lái de.

明白 (míngbai) as an adjective means clear or obvious. Used as a verb, it means to know, to understand or to realize, as shown in the following example.

现在我明白了.
Xiànzài wǒ míngbai le.
Now I understand.

You probably already know that “I love you” in Chinese is 我爱你 (Wǒ ài nǐ). 我爱的是你 (Wǒ ài de shì nǐ) emphasizes the choice of the person one loves. You would use this form when there is a doubt of which person you actually love and clarification is called for. When you need to clarify your intention or what you’ve just said, you could start the sentence with 我的意思是 (Wǒ de yìsī shì I mean, or what I meant is)

尽管 (jǐnguǎn), as used here, means “even though” or “in spite of”. This word also means “feel free to (do something)”, as shown in the following example:

不要担心. 你尽管去做.
Bùyào dānxīn. Nǐ jǐnguǎn qù zuò.
Don’t worry. Go ahead and do it.

祝夏安!
Zhù xià ān!
Have a nice summer!

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Locations in Chinese

Locations, locations, locations. When it comes to renting an apartment or purchasing a house, an important consideration is the location. Like Mencius’ mother, parents want to select a decent and safe neighborhood for their children. Also, homeowners believe that a nice neighborhood will help ensure a good resale price for their house. So it is that a tiny old 公寓 (gōngyù apartment) in a good area, or 好的地区 (hǎo de dìqū), could cost many times more than a brand new 房子 (fángzi house) elsewhere that comes complete with a double-garage and a large backyard.

他住在城里.
Tā zhù zài chénglǐ.
He lives in town.

我喜欢住郊外
Wǒ xǐhuān zhù jiāowài.
I like to live in the suburbs.

你喜欢住哪儿?
Nǐ xǐhuān zhù nǎr?
Where would you like to live?.

Following are a few choices:

靠近超级市场 (kàojìn chāojíshìchǎng) close to the supermarket
在医院附近 (zài yīyuàn fùjìn) in the vicinity of the hospital
在公园旁边 (zài gōngyuán pángbiān) by the park
在学校对面 (zài xuéxiào duìmiàn) across the street from the school
在高楼大厦 (zài gāolóudàshà) in a high-rise building
在市区 (zài shìqū) in the urban district
在市中心 (zài shìzhōngxīn) down-town
高级住宅区 (gāojí zhùzháiqū) uptown district
在东区 (zài dōng qū) in the eastern sector
靠近海边 (kàojìn hǎibiān) by the ocean
在山坡上 (zài shānpō shàng) on the mountain side
在乡下 (zài xiāngxià) on the countryside
房价便宜的地方 (fáng jià piányi de dìfang) a place with inexpensive quarters
远离铁路的地方 (yuǎnlí tiělù de dìfang) a place far from the railroad
人口稀少的地方 (rénkǒu xīshǎo de dìfang) scarcely populated area
太平洋的小岛上 (tàipíngyáng de xiǎo dǎo shàng) on an island in the Pacific Ocean

Answers to the “where?” questions involve adverbs and adverbial phrases or clauses. Following are a couple additional examples:

广场前面有一株大树.
Guǎngchǎng qiánmiàn yǒu yī zhū dà shù.
There is a large tree in front of the public square.

老师在黑板上面写了三个字.
Lǎoshī zài hēibǎn shàngmiàn xiě le sān gè zì.
The teacher wrote three words on the blackboard.

Please review “17. When? Where? How?” in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

To pinpoint the exact coordinates, or 坐标 (zuòbiāo), of where you are, you could make use of a 卫星定位系统 (wèixīng dìngwèi xìtǒng Geographic Positioning System, or GPS). Whereas clairvoyance, or 千里眼 (qiānlǐyǎn), was once monopolized by fictional characters, nowadays anyone could easily get a 3-D view of any place, even thousands of miles away, by making use of a software program like Google Maps(TM). It’s a small world indeed.

The water radical

(shuǐ water) is a most important element that sustains living organisms. The Chinese have assigned the “yin” property to water as water is perceived as being soft, cool and ever changing. A Chinese saying goes like this: “The magnanimous take to the mountains; the wise and witty take to the waters.”

Of course, we know that water can wreak havoc when it accompanies a storm. And even little drops of water could cause damage if applied constantly. Hence the Chinese idiom:

滴水穿石.
Dīshuǐchuānshí.
Dripping water can wear holes in stone.

Here is another way to put it:

铁杵磨成针.
Tiěchǔmóchéngzhēn.
An iron rod can be ground down to a needle.

The corresponding English adage is: “Little strokes fell great oaks.” Therefore, unless your are capable of instant permanent memory, a reliable way to learn a new Chinese word would be to read and write it repeatedly today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and again next week. Also think about how you might use the word in a sentence in a conversation or a composition. Granted, there are words that you will rarely if ever use in the ordinary course of your life. For those words, it suffices to become just familiar enough with them to be able to recognize them when you hear them mentioned or see them in print.

口水 (kǒushuǐ mouth-water) means saliva.

好香! 我流口水了.
Hǎo xiāng! Wǒ liú kǒushuǐ le.
It smells so good! I’m salivating
(i.e. water is flowing in my mouth).

(huò) means disaster or misfortune. 车祸 (chēhuò) is a traffic accident. Many Chinese historical plays depict the downfall of kings and warlords who overindulged in wine and women. The heros are not blamed for their own faults. Instead, we are led to believe that their ruins were brought about by their beautiful concubines. This same logic is adopted by the plebeians, hence the unfortunate general reference to women as 祸水 (huò shuǐ distasterous waters).

水土 (shuǐtǔ water and soil) refers to the climate (and foods) of a new place.

他不服水土. Or, 他不服水土不服.
Tā bùfúshuǐtǔ. Or, Tā shuǐtǔbùfú.
He is not yet acclimatized.

山水 (shānshuǐ mountains and waters) refers to a scenery with mountains or hills and lakes or rivers. On the other hand, 风水(fēngshuǐ wind and water)is a Chinese system of geomancy that claims to be able to divine the most auspicious location and orientation of dwellings and tombs based on the surrounding natural features.

The water radical can appear as the whole character 水(shuǐ) or three representive droplets of water. Following are a few wods that take on the water radical.

泉水 (quán) is spring water.
(bīng) is ice, and (hé) is a river. 冰河 (bīnghé) means glacier.
(hú) is a lake.
海洋 (hǎiyáng) are oceans and seas.
(shēn) means deep or profound.
(qiǎn) means shallow or easy.
游泳 (yóuyǒng) is to swim.
(chén) is to sink.
(fú) is to float.
(yóu) is oil or grease, and 汽油 (qìyóu) is gasoline.
(xǐ) is towash.
(lòu) means to leak or to leave out.

我寫漏了一个字.
Wǒ xiě lòu le yī gè zì.
I missed one character while writing.

To hear a song in praise of the beautiful scenery on the Ali Mountain in Taiwan and the natives who live there, please click on this link. 高山青 (Gāoshān qīng) was the theme song of a movie filmed in Taiwan. The lyrics were penned by 張徹 (Zhāng Chè) and the music was composed jointly by 周蓝萍 (Zhōu Lánpíng) and 邓禹平 (Dèng Yǔpíng). This song is often referred to as 阿里山的姑娘 (The Girls from the Ali Mountain).

Woven into the song are lines sung in the native language. However, you should have no problem picking out the Mandarin in the first stanza:

高山青, 涧水蓝.
Gāoshān qīng, jiàn shuǐ lán.
The mountains are green; the ravine waters are blue.

阿里山的姑娘
Ālǐshān de gūniang
The girls of Ali Mountain

美如水呀,
Měi rú shuǐ ya,
Are pretty as the waters.

阿里山的少年
Ālǐshān de shàonián
The young men of Ali Mountain

壮如山啊!
zhuàng rú shān a!
Are strong as the mountains.

啊!
Ā!
Ah!

啊!
Ā!
Ah!

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