To be honest in Chinese

Gray Zucchini Fruits (aka Mexican Squash)

My heart is filled with joy when I go to the garden to check on my gray zucchini plants. The huge dark-green leaves spreading out from turgid stems and the light-green fruits swelling up under attractive bright yellow-orange blossoms are indeed wondrous to behold, but my main concern is, “Which puppies will be ready to eat in the next couple of days?” Stir-fried young zucchinis are tender and mildly sweet – a delight to the discerning palate. (See recipe for Vegetarian’s Delight in my “Tame Migrain the Delicious Way” ebook.) I carefully remove any extra blossoms from the plant, chop the golden petals up and toss them into the frypan as well. Yummy! The Chinese call zucchinis 夏南瓜 (xià nánguā summer pumpkins) or 西葫芦 (xīhúlù western gourds). I prefer the latter name because of its interesting ring.

The Chinese word for fruits in general is 果实 (guǒshí). Our focus today is on the other meanings of the character (shí), which relate to the fact that a fruit is something solid and tangible, and therefore real and true.

When interpreted as a combination of a verb and a nouns, the word 结实 (jiēshi) means to bear fruit. Used as an adjective, 结实 (jiēshi) means sturdy, strong, tough or muscular.

实在 (shízài) means real, true, honest or dependable. As an adverb, it translates to indeed or really.

他做人实在.
Tā zuòrén shízài.
He is an honest and dependable person.

我实在不明白她为什么离开我.
Wǒ shízài bù míngbái tā wèishénme líkāi wǒ.
I really don’t understand why she left me.

说实在的, 我很想念她.
Shuō shízài de, wǒ hěn xiǎngniàn tā.
Actually (to state the fact), I miss her very much.

实际上 (shíjìshàng) means in reality or as a matter of fact.

实际上我不赞成他去巴黎.
Shíjìshàng wǒ bù zànchéng tā qù bālí.
In fact I don’t approve of his going to Paris.

不切实际 (bùqièshíjì) means unrealistic or impracticable.

他的计划不切实际.
Tā de jìhuà bùqièshíjì.
His plan is impractical.

On the contrary, 脚踏实地 (jiǎotàshídì to have one’s feet planted on solid ground) means to be earnest and down-to-earth.

The adjective 真实 (zhēnshí) is used to describe something that is true, real or authentic. 真实的故事 (zhēnshí de gùshi) is a true story. 真实的情况 (zhēnshí de qíngkuàng) is the actual situation or what is actually happening. This is often abbreviated as 实况 (shíkuàng). Therefore 实况转播 (shíkuàng zhuǎnbō) is a live broadcast. Similarly, 实情 (shíqíng) also means the actual situation or the true state of affairs. However, it is usually used to refer to the truth of the matter.

The idiom 名符其实 (míngfúqíshí) describes someone who lives up to his or her name. It can be applied to inanimate objects as well. On the other hand, 名不副实 (míngbùfùshí) means unworthy of the name or title.

天堂岛是一个名符其实的度假区.
Tiāntáng dǎo shì yīgè míngfúqíshí de dùjiàqū.
Paradise Island lives up to its name as a vacation area.

确实 (quèshí) means indeed or truely.

一般说来, 台湾的人确实很友善.
Yībān shuō lái, Táiwān de rén quèshí hěn yǒushàn.
Generally speaking, the people in Taiwan are indeed quite friendly.

货真价实 (huòzhēnjiàshí) describes merchandise that is genuine and fairly priced. When used to describe a person, this expression translates to “through and through”. For example,

他是一个货真价实的书呆子.
Tā shì yīgè huòzhēnjiàshí de shūdāizi.
He is a total bookworm.

To verify, or 证实 (zhèngshí), a physical law, one could do an experiment, or 实验 (shíyàn). The laboratory is called 实验室 (shíyànshì). To gain hands-on experience, it also helps to do fieldwork, or 实习 (shíxí).

忠实 (zhōngshí) means faithful or loyal, and 诚实 (chéngshí) means to be honest and not tell lies. 老实 (lǎoshi) means frank, honest and well-behaved, often borderin on being simple-minded, naive or gullible.

他太老实了!
Tā tà lǎoshi le!
He is so gullible!

When you want to start a remark by saying “Frankly” or “To be honest”, you could use the expression 老实说 (lǎoshi shuō).

老实说, 我对他没兴趣.
Lǎoshi shuō, wǒ duì tā méi xìngqù.
To be honest, I’m not interested in him.

To end this lesson on a funny note, I would like you to type “Frankly, I don’t give a fig.” into Google Translate and see what it shows for the Chinese translation. Do you know the correct way of saying this in Chinese?

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!

%d bloggers like this: