How to say Halloween in Chinese?

Witch flying on broom

NYC, here I come!

Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day. In Chinese, it is called 万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié), or ten thousand saints’ festival, which is not generally observed in Asian countries. In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, those who have passed away are remembered at the Night of the Ghosts, or 中元節 (zhōngyuán jié), which falls the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.

As you know, 巫婆 (wūpó witches), 妖怪 (yāoguài monsters, demons) and carved pumpkins, or 南瓜 (nánguā), feature prominently at Halloween.

Memory took me back to Halloween a few years ago when I had to take a red-eye flight to New York City on business.

万圣节那天下午,我去雜貨店買了一支旅行用的牙膏.
Wàn Shèng Jié nàtiān xiàwǔ, wǒ qù záhuò diàn mǎile yī zhī lǚxíng yòng de yágāo.
That afternoon on Halloween Day I went to the grocers to buy a travel-size tube of toothpaste.

因為我的舊掃帚已經用壞了,
Yīnwei wǒ de jiù sàozhǒu yǐjīng yòng huài le,
As my old broom had been worn out,

我也順便買了一支新的掃帚.
wǒ yě shùnbiàn mǎile yī zhī xīn de sàozhǒu.
I also grabbed a new broom.

結帳時店員好意地問我,
Jié zhàng shí, diànyuán hǎoyì dì wèn wǒ,
At the checkout stand the friendly clerk asked me,

“你今天晚上準備做些什麼?”
Nǐ jīntiān wǎnshàng zhǔnbèi zuò xiē shénme?
“What are you planning to do tonight?”

我回答說, “我今天晚上要飛到紐約去.”
Wǒ huídá shuō, “Wǒ jīntiān wǎnshàng yào fēi dào Niǔyuē qù.”
I replied, “I’m flying to New York tonight.”

他看了我的掃帚一眼,
Tā kànle wǒ de sàozhǒu yīyǎn,
He eyed my broom for a moment,

然後帶著將信將疑的微笑說,
ránhòu dàizhe jiāngxìnjiāngyí de wéixiào shuō,
and then said with an incredulous smile,

“哦, 是嗎?”
” Ó, shì ma?”
“Oh, yeah?”

我後悔當時沒有也買了一頂黑色的有尖頂的巫婆帽.
Wǒ hòuhuǐ dāngshí méiyǒu yě mǎile yī dǐng hēisè de yǒu jiāndǐng de wūpó mào.
I regret not having also picked up a black witch hat with a pointed top.

万圣节快乐!
Wànshèngjié kuàilè!
Happy Halloween!

Sing Tenting Tonight in Chinese

American Flag

American Flag

“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”, also known as “Tenting Tonight”, is a sorrowful anti-war song with words and music composed by Walter Kittredge during the American Civil War. It describes the atrocities of war and reveals how soldiers actually long for peace and don’t really want to go to war.

露营 means to camp out, usually in a tent. 扎营 is to set up a tent. Here, we are talking about a military camp. My brother liked to sing this song, and that’s how I came to know it. I’ve made the Chinese translation easy to sing, while still closely following the English verses.

 

今夜在这里露营 Tenting Tonight
 Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng

今夜又在老战场扎下营,               
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng zhá xià yíng
We’re tenting to-night on the old camp ground,

唱只歌来听听.                             
Chàng zhī gē lái tīng tīng.
Give us a song to cheer

唱唱家园, 朋友的情景,                 
Chàng chàng jiāyuán péngyǒu de qíngjǐng
Our weary hearts, a song of home,

安慰我们疲惫的心.                       
ānwèi wǒmén píbèi de xīn.
And friends we love so dear.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,           
Yǒu duōshao de rén jīnwǎn xīnqíng bù níng,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,

期望战火快快停.                           
Qíwàng zhànhuǒ kuài kuài tíng.
Wishing for the war to cease,

有多少的人渴望能有幸
Yǒu duōshao de rén kěwàng néng yǒu xìng
Many are the hearts looking for the right,

看到宝贵的和平.                           
kàndào bǎoguì de hépíng.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜露营, 今夜露营,                     
Jīn yè lùyíng, jīn yè lùyíng,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,

今夜在这里露营.                          
Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

今夜又在老战场上露营,                ,
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng lùyíng
We’ve been tenting to-night on the old camp ground

思乡之情更切.                               
Sī xiāng zhī qíng gèng qiè.
Thinking of days gone by,

想到家人握着手叮咛,                   
Xiǎngdào jiārén wò zhe shǒu dīngníng,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand

依依挥泪道别.                               
Yīyī huī lèi dào bié.
And the tear that said “Good-by!”

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
今夜在这里露营.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

我们不再热切逞英勇.
Wǒmén bùzài rèqiè chěng yīngyǒn,
We are tired of war on the old camp ground.

有些人已把命送.
Yǒuxiē rén yǐ bà mìng sòng.
Many are dead and gone.

其他离乡背井的弟兄
Lí xiāng bèi jǐng de dìxiōng
Of the brave and true who’ve left their homes,

大都负伤惨重.
Dàdū fùshāng cǎnzhòng.
Others been wounded long.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
今夜在这里露营.
Tenting on the old camp ground.

 

今夜又在老战场上火拼,               
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng shàng huǒ pīn
We’ve been fighting to-day on the old camp ground,

诸弟兄遍地躺.                               
Dìxiōng zhū biàndì tǎng.
Many are lying near;

有些已逝, 有些奄奄呻吟,               
Yǒuxiē yǐ shì, yǒuxiē yǎnyǎn shēnyín,
Some are dead, and some are dying,

也有人泪满眶.
Yě yǒurén lèi mǎn kuàng.
Many are in tears.

有多少的人今晚心情不宁,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
期望战火快快停.
Wishing for the war to cease,
有多少的人渴望能有幸
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
看到宝贵的和平.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜成仁, 今夜成仁,
Jīn yè chéngrèn, jīn yè chéngrèn,
Dying tonight, dying tonight,

今夜在这里成仁.                           
Jīn yè zài zhelǐ chéngrèn.
Dying on the old camp ground.

 

祝你有个美好的七月四日!
Zhù nǐ yǒu gè měihǎo de qīyuè sìrì!
Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Different kinds of “fun” in Chinese

Have you ever looked at the menu at a Chinese restaurant and wondered what “Beef Chow Fun” means? In Chinese it is written as 牛肉炒粉 (niúròu chǎo fěn). If you have studied Chapter 20 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“, you will know that 牛肉 (niúròu) is beef. On the other hand, (fěn) can be one of many different things.

First of all, (fěn) means powder or dry finely ground material.

For example, cerus is 白粉 (báifěn), often used in whitewashing, or 粉刷 (fěnshuā). (hóng) is the red color. When you mix red color with white powder, you will get the pink color, or 粉红 (fěnhóng).

他把围墙粉刷好了.
Tā bǎ wéiqiáng fěnshuā hǎo le.
He has finished whitewashing the fence.

粉碎 (fěnsuì) means smashed or shattered.

她把花瓶摔了个粉碎.
Tā bǎ huāpíng shuāi le ge fěnsuì.
She flung the vase and shattered it.

药粉 (yàofěn) is medicinal powder. It used to be that people took medicinal powder by mixing it with some water (and perhaps some suger). Nowadays, such powders are encased in capsules or made into tablets.

Pollens are called 花粉 (huāfěn) because of their tiny size. 面包 (miànbāo) means bread, and 面包粉 (miànbāo fěn) are dried crushed bread crumbs.

面粉 (miànfěn) is wheat flour, 淀粉 (diànfěn) are starches,
and 发粉 (fāfěn) is baking powder.

粉丝 (fěnsī) are vermicelli made from mung bean starch.

你喜欢喝粉丝汤吗?
Nǐ xǐhuān hēfěnsī tāng ma?
Do you like bean thread soup?

When talking about foods, what’s referred to as “fun” are the noodles or vermicelli made from ground or pulverized rice. Of course, you know better than to call these products “fun”. Instead, you will correctly pronounce the word as “fěn”.

So, 米粉 (mǐfěn) are vermicelli made from ground rice. Like 粉丝 (fěnsī), they come in dried form and look wiry. Unlike 粉丝 (fěnsī), they are not translucent but look whitish. Before using either product, you will need to soak the vermicelli in warm water to soften them. 米粉 (mǐfěn) should only be soaked briefly as it tends to become mushy when wet.

粉条 (fěntiáo), or rice noodles, are made from a mixture of rice powder and a starch, such as corn starch, bean starch or sweet potato starch. When cooked, these look similar to noodles made from wheat flour but have a lighter texture.

粉条 (fěntiáo) and 米粉 (mǐfěn) are usually stir-fried or served
in soups. You can get them from Asian grocery stores in dried form. Some stores also carry fresh 粉条 (fěntiáo), which taste a lot better than reconstituted ones. By the way, the noodles in the Vietnamese noodle soups (called “pho”) are rice noodles. Some restaurants use rice vermicelli instead.

If you would like to make your own fresh 粉条 (fěntiáo), watch this video on YouTube.

粉条 (fěntiáo) is also knonw as 沙河粉 (Shā Hé fěn)
or 河粉 (hé fěn) because it originated in 沙河 (Shā Hé), a town in Guang Zhou, China.

今天晚上我们要做牛肉炒粉.
Jīntiān wǎnshàng wǎnshàng wǒmén yào zuò niúròu chǎo fěn.
We are making stir-fried rice noodle with beef for dinner tonight.

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