Sing Flower on a Rainy Night in Mandarin Chinese

The song called 雨夜花 (Yǔ Yè Huā Flower on a Rainy Night) is a very well-known Taiwanese song. The beautiful melody was originally composed for a children’s song. After hearing the sad life story of a young bar girl, the lyricist changed the lyrics and used a tender blossom pounded upon by merciless, relentless rain as a metaphor for a poor girl fallen into the flesh trade through unfortunate circumstances.

The Taiwanese pronunciation for 雨夜花 is “wuyahue”, quite different from the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. There are still a few older Taiwanese folks who only speak the local dialect. However, the majority of the people in Taiwan speak Mandarin Chinese, which is the official language to date.

At this link, you can hear Teresa Teng sing this song in Taiwanese.

I changed the lyrics so you could sing it in English or Mandarin Chinese, if you wish.

Flower on a Rainy Night

Rain on me, rain on me.
So much shame, so much pain to bear.
No one sees me, no one hears me,
No one knows me, no one cares.

Nigh is falling, day is dying,
Now I wilt, now the last hour nears.
No more sighing, no more crying,
No more fears and no more tears.

雨连连, 雨连连.
Yǔ liánlián, yǔ liánlián.
The rain keeps falling.

多少羞愧, 多少悲凄.
Duōshao xiūkuì duōshao bēi qī.
So much shame and regret, so much sorrow.

没人看见, 没人听见,
Méi rén kànjian, méi rén tīngjiàn,
No one sees, no one hears,

没人知晓, 没人理.
Méi rén zhīxiǎo, méi rén lǐ.
No one knows, no one pays attention.

夜已临, 日已尽.
Yè yǐ lín, rì yǐ jìn.
Night has come, day has ended.

花已谢, 花瓣已凋零.
Huā yǐ xiè, huābàn yǐ diāolíng.
Flower is spent, the petals have fallen.

不再怨叹, 不再啜泣,
Bùzài yuàn tàn, bùzài chuòqì,
No more sighing, no more sobbing,

不再畏惧, 得安宁.
Bùzài wèijù, dé ānníng.
No more dreading; peace at last.

So today we will learn a few words associated with decay and sadness.

(yǔ) is rain. 下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain.
(lián) means to connect or to link. 连连 means continuously, as in the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”.

羞愧 (xiūkuì) means to feel ashamed or abashed.
悲凄 (bēi qī) means mournful.
知晓 (zhīxiǎo) means the same as 知道 (zhīdào), i.e. to know or to be aware of.
理睬 (lǐcǎi) means to pay attention to or to show interest in.
Here, (xiè) does not mean “thanks”. It refers to the decline or withering of the flower. 谢世 (xièshì) means to pass away.
花瓣 (huābàn )are flower petals.
凋零 (diāolíng) is to wither and be scattered about.
怨叹 (yuàn tàn) is to complain and to sigh.
啜泣 (chuòqì) is to sob or weep.
畏惧 (wèijù) is to fear or to dread.
安宁 (ānníng) means peaceful or free from worries.

儿童节快乐!
Értóng jié kuàilè!.
Happy International Children’s Day!

P.S. I hope you are all holding out all right with the social distancing. Stay safe.

 

Sing Yiddish Song Tumbalalaika in Chinese

Balalalaika


I came across an old Yiddish folk song “Tumbalalaika” and found the lyrics rather amusing. Are you the type who will quiz your future mate to scrutinize his or her intelligence or integrity? Or, will you, like most of us, simply fall head over heels for the one with whom you think you will live happily ever after? Compared to this tough question, perhaps learning Chinese isn’t so hard after all.

Here is my translation of a couple of the stanzas of the song. If you would like to read or sing along, please click on this link: Sing Tumbalalaika in Chinese.

少女,少女, 我请问你:
Shàonǚ, shàonǚ, wǒ qǐngwèn nǐ.
Maiden, maiden, may I ask you.

什么会成长, 但不用雨水?
Shénme huì chéngzhǎng, dàn bùyòng yǔshuǐ?
What can grow, but it needs no rain?

什么会燃烧, 永远不停息?
Shénme huì ránshāo, yǒngyuǎn bù tíngxī?
What burns forever and never will end?

什么会思念, 但不流泪?
Shénme huì sīniàn, dàn bù liú lèi?
Which thing can yearn, but sheds not a tear?

Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika.

Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika.

Tumbalalaika, 彈我們的琵琶.
Tumbalalaika, tán wǒmén de pípa.
Tumbalalaika, strum balalaika.

Tumbalalaika, 願我們快樂!
Tumbalalaika, yuàn wǒmén kuàilè!
Tumbalalaika, may we be happy!

少年, 少年, 这没问题.
Shàonián, shàonián, zhè méiwèntí.
Young man, young man, no problem at all.

岩石会成长, 但不用雨水.
Yánshí huì chéngzhǎng, dàn bùyòng yǔshuǐ.
A rock can grow, but it needs no rain.

爱情会燃烧, 永远不停息.
Àiqíng huì ránshāo, yǒngyuǎn bù tíngxī.
Love burns forever and never will end.

真心会思念, 但不流泪.
Zhēnxīn huì sīniàn, dàn bù liú lèi.
True heart can yearn, but sheds not a tear.

Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika.

Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika.

Tumbalalaika, 彈我們的琵琶.
Tumbalalaika, tán wǒmén de pípa.
Tumbalalaika, strum balalaika.

Tumbalalaika, 願我們快樂!
Tumbalalaika, yuàn wǒmén kuàilè!
Tumbalalaika, may we be happy!

In the above, the Chinese verses mostly parallel the English verses and should be easy to understand. Please note, however, that the 琵琶 (pípa pipa) and the balalaika are two different musical instruments. The balalaika has three strings. It was featured in the film “Dr. Zhivago”. On the other hand, pipa is a Chinese musical instrument that has four strings. I used this word as it rhymes with balalaika. I could as well have used 吉他 (jítā guitar) instead.

Another thing worth pointing out is that the Chinese expression for “will never” is phrased as “always will not”, namely 永远不 (yǒngyuǎn bù) or 永不 (yǒng bù) for short.

Please see “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” for more songs and rhymes to sing or read in Chinese.

感恩节快乐!
Gǎnēn jié kuàilè!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Learn Chinese word radical – Rain

Snow 雪 (xuě)

Snow 雪 (xuě)

We have discussed the Chinese character for rain, (yǔ), a few times before. This character, featuring four drops of water, also serves as a word radical that is employed in words involving precipitation or moisture in the air. As you know, one advantage of being able to recognizing a word radical is that you will only need to learn the remaining part in a new word.

As with many other natural elements, the words containing the rain radical are often used in phrases associated with human nature.

We will start with a simple character, (xuě snow).

你会滑雪吗?
Nǐ huì huáxuě ma?
Do you know how to ski?

(xuě) is also used as a verb in the idiom 报仇雪耻 (bàochóuxuěchǐ), which means to take revenge and wipe out a humiliation.

(tàn) is charcoal. (sòng) means to give or to deliver. The idiom 雪中送炭 (xuězhōngsòngtàn providing charcoal in snowy weather) means to offer needed help and be “a friend indeed”.

(shuāng) is frost. 雪上加霜 (xuěshàngjiāshuāng), means to have frost added on top of snow, to have one disaster after another, or to add insult to injury.

(bīng) is ice. 冰雹 (bīngbáo) are hailstones. Some one who is really aloof might be described as being icy. The following comment is often bestowed on strikingly beautiful women who give their admirers the cold shoulder.

艳若桃李, 冷若冰霜.
Yàn ruò táo lǐ, lěng ruò bīng shuāng.
Gorgeous as peach and plum blossoms, but cold as ice and frost.

(léi) is thunder, which often strikes a field when it rains. 地雷 (dìléi) are land mines.

雷声大,雨点小. (léishēngdà,yǔdiǎnxiǎo) literally translates to “loud thunder but tiny raindrops”. This idiom implies that much is proclaimed but followed by little action.

暴跳如雷 (bàotiàorúléi) and 大发雷霆 (dàfāléitíng) both mean flying into a rage.

他听了这话, 暴跳如雷.
Tā tīng le zhè huà, bàotiàorúléi.
After hearing these words, he flew off the handle.

如雷贯耳 (rúléiguàněr) literally translates to “like thunder piercing the ears”, but this idiom is used for complimenting a person on his or her colossal reputation, implying that everyone is praising that person and the clamor fills the ear like thunder.

(lù) as a noun means dew. 雨露 (yǔlù rain and dew) often refers to grace and bounty.

(ní) is the secondary rainbow. What is the primary raindow called in Chinese?

We learned before that 晚霞 (wǎnxiá) is the evening glow at sunset.

(zhèn) means to shake or shock, or to be greatly shocked, as in 震惊 (zhènjīng). 地震 (dìzhèn) is an earthquake.

他听了这消息, 十分震惊.
Tā tīng le zhè xiāoxi, shífēn zhènjīng.
He was shocked to hear this piece of news.

(méi) is mildew. 发霉 (fāméi) is to become moldy.
倒霉 (dǎoméi), on the other hand, means to have bad luck.

今天又碰到他. 倒霉!
Jīntiān yòu pèng dào tā. Dǎoméi!
I ran into him again today. Just my luck!

The proper word for “tough luck” is 倒楣 (dǎoméi). However, 倒霉 (dǎoméi) has been so widely used that it has won legitimacy. Either way you write it, it’s not a happy word.

下雪天, 走路开车都要当心.
Xià xuě tiān, zǒulù kāichē dōu yào dāngxīn,
In snowy weather, walk and drive carefully.

For a short discussion of other weather conditions please see Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Is it raining cats and dogs?

“April, April, it makes what it will.” This German saying comes to mind when we receive a bit of rain, sunshine and hail all on the same day, and not necessarily in that order. While most people associate a good day with a sunny one, there are quite a few nice songs written about rainy weather, such as: “Listen to the Rhythem of the Falling Rain”, “Stormy Weather”, “Singing in the Rain”, etc.

Let’s listen to 雨中即景 (Yǔ Zhōng Jíjǐng The Rain Impromptu) composed by王梦麟 (Wáng Mènglín) and performed by刘文正 (Liú Wénzhèng).

(yǔ) is rain, which is aptly represented by the four drops of water in the character.
(zhōng) is the middle. As an adverb, it means amidst, among or on the dot. It is also used as a verb that means hitting smack on target.
(jí) means at present, approaching, immediately, or even if.
(jǐng) is a view or a scene.

The lyrics are fun but we will just look at the first two lines for now:

哗啦啦啦啦,下雨了.
Huālālālā xiàyǔ le.
Splish, splash, it’s raining.

看到大家都在跑.
Kàndào dàjiā dōu zài pǎo.
(I) see everyone running.

下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain. 哗啦 (huālā) mimicks the sound of pouring rain or rustling leaves. When singing a song, the word (le) is often pronounced as liǎo.

Suppose you want to tell someone in Chinese, “It’s raining.” You’d be tempted to say, “它下雨了. (Tā xiàyǔ le.) ” After all, (tā) means “it”. Beware. This simple statement will immediately give you away as a beginner even if your Mandarin pronounciation is perfect. The Chinese do not use “it” as a filler. The correct wording is:

下雨了.
Xiàyǔ le.

If it’s raining heavily, don’t talk about raining cats and dogs or pitch forks, simply say:

下大雨了.
Xià dà yǔ le.

Similarly, when you hear rolling thunder, you would say:

打雷了.
Dǎ léi le.

看到 (kàndào) means to see or to catch a glimpse of something.
大家 (dàjiā) means everybody or everyone.
(dōu) is an adverb that indicates the action is performed by mulitiple subjects.
(zài) has multiple meanings and uses. Here, it is added to the main verb to form the progressive tense.
(pǎo) is the verb “to run”.

Action words such as “rain”, “run”, “walk” and “stay” do not normally take an object. They are called intransitive verbs. This leads us to our next simple sentence pattern:

V. Noun + Intransitive Verb

小狗跑了.
Xiǎo gǒu pǎo le.
The puppy has run away.

大家都来了.
Dàjiā dōu lái le.
Everybody has come.

爸爸在睡觉.
Bàba zài shuìjiào.
Dad is sleeping.

Just as in English, the pronoun “you” is omitted from a statement issued in the imperative tone. Here are different ways to ask someone to sit down:

坐.
Zuò.
Sit. (Sit down.)

请坐.
Qǐng zuò.
Please, sit. (Sit down, please. Have a seat, please.)

请上坐.
Qǐng shàng zuò.
Please, sit on the high (VIP) seat.

Acutally, all you have to remember is: 请坐. (Qǐng zuò. Sit down, please.) The above three statements are often cited to ridicule those people who look down upon the poor and fawn on the rich and powerful. Please note that in the above sentences, the word 请. (qǐng) is placed in front of the verb. Do not say, “坐,请. (Zuò, qǐng )”, as you would in English.

This is a good time to review the five sentence patterns that have been presented so far. As you acquire new Chinese words, think about how you would fit them into one of these sentence structures. It is so much easier to remember a new word when you can associate it with a meaningful context.

%d bloggers like this: