Learn the Chinese word for a total solar eclipse

Mock-up of the 08/21/17 total solar eclipse I observed


About a week ago, on August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse was visible within a band across the entire conterminous USA. Our town happens to be situated smack on this path of totality. Rumor had it that as many as one million eclipse chasers would be flocking to our state to witness this very special natural phenomenon. Fearing that our limited resources would be depleted by these visitors, the locals swarmed the supermarkets and filled up their gas tanks. Observation camps were set up everywhere, and parties were planned for this particular workday. Although the actual size of the crowd that descended on our town fell short of the expectations of many a retailer, traffic was indeed crazy, and our garbage pickup got pushed back by one whole day.

Here I will share with you my own encounter with the wonderful sight of this spectacular total solar eclipse, or 日全蝕 (rì quán shí), in my backyard. It is ironical that the only time one is able to look at the sun directly is when it is totally obscured by the moon. Anyhow this amazing experience has drawn me closer to Mother Nature in a special way. And never again will I take the daily gift of sunlight for granted.

(Simplified Chinese characters; see below for traditional Chinese characters.)

这是我平生第一次亲眼看到日全蚀的景象.
Zhè shì wǒ píngshēng dìyīcì qīnyǎn kàndào rì quán shí de jǐngxiàng.
This is the first time in my life that I have observed the total solar eclipse in person.

起初烈日当空, 阳光普照,
Qǐchū lièrì dāngkōng yángguāng pǔzhào
At first the sun was shining bright in the sky,

和平常没有两样.
hé píngcháng méiyǒu liǎngyàng
not unlike what it does normally.

接著周遭逐渐但明显地转暗.
Jiē zhe zhōu zāo zhújiàn dàn míngxiǎn di zhuǎn àn.
Then the surroundings gradually but definitely darkened.

大地一片寂静, 听不到平日鸟儿的喧嚣.
Dàdì yīpiàn jìjìng, tīng bù dào píngrì niǎo er de xuānxiāo
There was silence all around, no sound of the usual chirping of the birds.

我背对著太阳, 用针孔观察它的投影.
Wǒ bèi duì zhe tàiyáng, yòng zhēn kǒng guānchá tā de tóuyǐng.
I stood with my back to the sun and used a pinhole to observe its projection.

卡片上那半月形的亮点慢慢变成了月牙形;
Kǎpiàn shàng nà bànyuèxíng fr liàng diǎn mànmàn biànchéng le yuèyá xíng.
The half-moon shaped bright spot on the cardboard turned into a thin crescent;

而后, 我期望看到的奇景出现了 –
érhòu wǒ qíwàng kàndào de qíjǐng chūxiàn le –
and then, the extraordinary sight I was hoping to see appeared.

投影变成了一个完美的光圈.
Tóuyǐng biànchéng le yīgè wánměi de guāngquān.
The projected image had become a perfect ring of light.

我转身朝反向望去 –
Wǒ zhuǎnshēn cháo fǎnxiàng wàng qù –
I turned around to look in the opposite direction.

一个黝黑的圆盘平静地高挂半空,
Yīgè yǒuhēi de yuánpán píngjìng di gāo guà bàn kòng,
A pitch-black disc hung serenely in mid-sky,

外围圈著一个晶荧剔透的银环,
wàiwéi quān zhe yīgè jīng yíng tī tòu de yín huán,
framed by a brilliant, clean-cut silvery ring,

由深蓝的天空衬托, 越发美丽醒目.
yóu shēn lán de tiānkōng chèntuō, yuèfā měilì xǐngmù.
its vivid beauty intensified by the backing of the vast dark blue sky.

在那奇妙的一刻, 世上似乎只剩下了我和那颗被驯服了的太阳.
Zài nà qímiào de yī kè, shìshang sìhu zhǐ shèngxià le wǒ hé nà kē bèi xúnfú le de tàiyáng.
In that magical moment, it seemed nothing else existed in the world but me and the tamed sun.

啊﹗我的太阳﹗
Ā! Wǒde tàiyáng!
O sole mio! (Oh, my sun!)

All right, what is the general Chinese term for a solar eclipse? And what would you call an annular eclipse in Chinese? Hint: You can find all the characters for these terms in this article. By the way, this might be a good time to review the Chinese terms for weather conditions as presented in Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

————————————————————

(Traditional Chinese characters)

這是我平生第一次親眼看到日全蝕的景象.
Zhè shì wǒ píngshēng dìyīcì qīnyǎn kàndào rì quán shí de jǐngxiàng.
This is the first time in my life that I have observed the total solar eclipse in person.

起初烈日當空, 陽光普照,
Qǐchū lièrì dāngkōng yángguāng pǔzhào
At first the sun was shining bright in the sky,

和平常沒有兩樣.
hé píngcháng méiyǒu liǎngyàng
not unlike what it does normally.

接著周遭逐漸但明顯地轉暗.
Jiē zhe zhōu zāo zhújiàn dàn míngxiǎn di zhuǎn àn.
Then the surroundings gradually but definitely darkened.

大地一片寂靜, 聽不到平日鳥兒的喧囂.
Dàdì yīpiàn jìjìng, tīng bù dào píngrì niǎo er de xuānxiāo
There was silence all around, no sound of the usual chirping of the birds.

我背對著太陽, 用針孔觀察它的投影.
Wǒ bèi duì zhe tàiyáng, yòng zhēn kǒng guānchá tā de tóuyǐng.
I stood with my back to the sun and used a pinhole to observe its projection.

卡片上那半月形的亮点慢慢变成了月牙形.;
Kǎpiàn shàng nà bànyuèxíng fr liàng diǎn mànmàn biànchéng le yuèyá xíng.
The half-moon shaped bright spot on the cardboard turned into a thin crescent;

而後, 我期望看到的奇景出現了 –
érhòu wǒ qíwàng kàndào de qíjǐng chūxiàn le –
and then, the extraordinary sight I was hoping to see appeared.

投影變成了一個完美的光圈.
Tóuyǐng biànchéng le yīgè wánměi de guāngquān.
The projected image had become a perfect ring of light.

我轉身朝反向望去 –
Wǒ zhuǎnshēn cháo fǎnxiàng wàng qù –
I turned around to look in the opposite direction.

一個黝黑的圓盤平靜地高掛半空,
Yīgè yǒuhēi de yuánpán píngjìng di gāo guà bàn kòng,
A pitch-black disc hung serenely in mid-sky,

外圍圈著一個晶熒剔透的銀環,
wàiwéi quān zhe yīgè jīng yíng tī tòu de yín huán,
framed by a brilliant, clean-cut silvery ring,

由深藍的天空襯托, 越發美麗醒目.
yóu shēn lán de tiānkōng chèntuō, yuèfā měilì xǐngmù.
its vivid beauty intensified by the backing of the vast dark blue sky.

在那奇妙的一刻, 世上似乎只剩下了我和那顆被馴服了的太陽.
Zài nà qímiào de yī kè, shìshang sìhu zhǐ shèngxià le wǒ hé nà kē bèi xúnfú le de tàiyáng.
In that magical moment, it seemed nothing else existed in the world but me and the tamed sun.

啊﹗我的太陽﹗
Ā! Wǒde tàiyáng!
O sole mio! (Oh, my sun!)

All right, what is the general Chinese term for a solar eclipse? And what would you call an annular eclipse in Chinese? Hint: You can find all the characters for these terms in this article. By the way, this might be a good time to review the Chinese terms for weather conditions as presented in Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

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More about the Chinese character – Square

 3 squared equals 9.

3 squared equals 9.

Now we will discuss some of the extended meanings of (fāng).

First, a little math. 平方 (píngfāng) represents “squared”. Therefore 平方公尺 (píngfāng gōngchǐ) means square meters. In three-dimensional space we have 立方 (lìfāng), standing for a cubed quantity.

三的平方是九.
Sān de píngfāng shì jiǔ.
3 squared is 9.

In the above sentence, you could substitute 是 (shì is) with 等于 (děngyú equals).

An equation is called 方程式 (fāngchéngshì). This could be a mathematical equation or a chemical equation.

In so far as (fāng) means a direction or a side, it also represents an aspect of a matter or a party in a transaction.

方面 (fāngmiàn) means an aspect or a side of an issue.

这方面我不很清楚.
Zhèi fāngmiàn wǒ bù hěn qīngchǔ.
I don’t know much about this aspect of the matter.

对方 (duìfāng) means the other party (the party opposite you).

对方同意了吗?
Duìfāng tóngyì le ma?
Did the other party agree?

双方都同意了.
Shuāngfāng dōu tóngyì le.
Both parties agreed.

In a sales transaction, the purchasing party is referred to as 买方 (mǎifāng), while the seller is referred to as 卖方 (màifāng).

官方 (guānfāng) means official or pertaining to the government. 警方 (jǐngfāng) refers to the police.

(fāng) is also the abbreviation of 方法 (fāngfǎ), which means method or means.

这个方法不错.
Zhègè fāngfǎ bùcuò.
This method is not bad.

处方 (chǔfāng) is a prescription. Specifically, a medical prescription is called
药方 (yàofāng).

A 方案 (fāngàn) is a plan or a scheme.

比方说 (bǐfangshuō) means “as an example” or “for instance”.

(fāng), being square and not crooked, implies honesty and uprightness. This may be why it is used as a Chinese surname.

大方 (dàfang) means generous or gracious.

他的女朋友美丽又大方.
Tā de nǚpéngyou měilì yòu dàfang.
His girl friend is beautiful and gracious.

(fāng) can also be used as an adverb. 方才 (fāngcái) means just now and is synonymous with 刚才 (gāngcái).

我方才看到他.
Wǒ fāngcái kàndào tā.
I saw him just a moment ago.

(fāng) and (cái), when standing alone as an adverb, take on the meaning of “not until”. (fāng) is the formal version. Use (cái) in everyday speech.

我现在才知道他真的爱我.
Wǒ xiànzài cái zhīdào tā zhēnde ài wǒ.
Now I realize that he truly loves me.
(Hope it’s not too late.)

As an adjective 方便 (fāngbiàn) means convenient. As a verb, it means going to the lavatory.

Following are a few more commonly used words that take on the (fāng) radical.

仿 (fǎng) means to imitate, as in 模仿 (mófǎng), or to be like, as in 仿佛 (fǎngfú), which is a formal way of saying 好像 (hǎoxiàng).

(shī) is to hand out or to apply or carry out. In the sense of handing out, it is synonymous with the word (gěi to give).

(fāng), with the “grass” radical on top, means fragrant. It is a favorite character for girls’ names.

Sing “America the Beautiful” in Chinese

Blueberries ripening

Blueberries ripening

July 4th, 七月四日 (qīyuè sì rì), is the birthday of the United States of America. (zhù) is to express good wishes. 祝福 (zhùfú) is to give blessing to someone. This word can also be used as a noun. 庆祝 (qìngzhù) is to celebrate. There are a number of patriot songs to help us express our feelings while celebrating the national day, or 国庆日 (guóqìng rì), notably the one with lyrics written by Katharine Lee Bates and music composed by Samuel A. Ward – “America the Beautiful”. The Chinese word for America is 美国 (Měiguó). 美丽 (měilì) means beautiful.

忠贞 (zhōngzhēn) means being loyal and steadfast. 爱国 (àiguó) means being patriotic. So, 忠贞爱国 (zhōngzhēn àiguó) describes a person who is loyal to his country and loves it dearly, and patriotic songs are called 爱国歌曲 (àiguó gēqǔ).

At this link is a nice rendition of “America the Beautiful”. If you would like to sing this song in Chinese, here is my translated version:

啊, 多美丽! 蓝天辽阔,
Ā, duō měilì! Lán tiān liáokuò,
Oh, how beautiful – the spacious blue skies

麦田里漾金波.
màitián li yàng jīn bō.
and the golden waves rippling in the wheat fields.

高山峻岭, 气势磅礴,
Gāoshān jùn lǐng, qìshìpángbó,
High mountains and mountain ranges, so powerful and majestic,

遍地布满花果.
biàn dì bùmǎn huā guǒ.
and the land covered with flowers and fruits.

美丽家园, 美丽家园!
Měilì jiāyuán, měilì jiāyuán!
Beautiful homeland, beautiful homeland!

愿天父保佑你.
Yuàn tiānfù bǎoyòu nǐ.
May the Heavenly Father protect and bless you.

从南到北, 由西到东,
Cóng nán dào běi, yóu xī dào dōng,
From south to north, from west to east,

四海内皆兄弟.
sìhǎi nèi jiē xiōngdì.
within the four seas we are all brothers.

啊, 多美丽! 同心协力,
Ā, duō měilì! Tóngxīnxiélì,
Oh, how beautiful – the shared aspiration, the concerted effort

不断英勇建国.
bùduàn yīngyǒng jiànguó.
and the endless valor in founding the nation.

大城小镇亭亭玉立,
Dà chéng xiǎo zhèn tíngtíng yù lì,
Big cities and small towns now stand upright,

在泪光里闪烁.
zài lèi guāng li shǎnshuò.
shimmering in our tears.

美丽家园, 美丽家园!
Měilì jiāyuán, měilì jiāyuán!
Beautiful homeland, beautiful homeland!

愿天父保佑你.
Yuàn tiānfù bǎoyòu nǐ.
May the Heavenly Father protect and bless you.

从南到北, 由西到东,
Cóng nán dào běi, yóu xī dào dōng,
From south to north, from west to east,

四海内皆兄弟.
sìhǎi nèi jiē xiōngdì.
within the four seas we are all brothers.

辽阔 (liáokuò) means vast and expansive.

高山峻岭 (gāoshān jùn lǐng) is a popular phrase for describing high mountains.

气势磅礴 (qìshìpángbó) is a commonly used four-character idiom describing the power or momentum of someone or something.

英勇 (yīngyǒng) means heoric and courageous, as when speaking of the brave soldiers who help defend our country.

同心协力 (tóngxīnxiélì) is a commonly used four-character idiom describing two or more people working together with one heart and in full cooperation.

What are the things that you love the most or are most proud of about your own country? Would you like to share them with us in a comment either in English or Chinese?

美国国庆日快乐!
Měiguó guóqìng rì kuàilè!
Have a Happy July 4th!

Or,

美国国庆快乐!
Měiguó guóqìng kuàilè!
Have a Happy July 4th!

Sing Aura Lee in Chinese

桃花 (táohuā) Peach Blossoms

桃花 (táohuā) Peach Blossoms


Spring is just around the corner. I hope this blog post finds you with a twinkle in your eyes, a smile on your face and a spring in your steps, ready to conquer the world and take on the challenge of studying Chinese.

Unbeknown to you, I made a New Year resolution for you, namely to learn to sing a song or two in Chinese by the end of this year. There are many simple songs you can choose from the “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” book, and we have talked about quite a number of other songs in my past blog posts. If you are able to record your performance, we hope you will share it with us by providing the link to your video or audio file.

Here is a traditional song that might help put you in the mood for the season. The lyrics for “Aura Lee” were written by W. W. Fosdick and the music was composed by George R. Poulton. You can download an audio file for the melody from the Microsoft OneDrive site at this link.

The first stanza of the original lyrics goes like this:

When the blackbird in the Spring
‘On the willow tree.
Sat and rocked, I heard him sing,
Singing Aura Lee.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee,
Maid with golden hair.
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

As you know, Elvis Presley changed the verses of this song and turned “Love Me Tender” into a hit.

Following is my Chinese translation.

春风飘来, 桃花迎,
Chūnfēng piāo lái, táohuā yíng.
Peach blossoms cheer the breezy spring.

湖面起涟漪.
Hú miàn qǐ liányī
Ripples dance in glee.

枝头小鸟诉衷情,
Zhī tóu xiǎoniǎo sù zhōngqíng,
The bird on the treetop heartily sings

歌颂欧儿丽.
gēsòng Ōu Ér Lì.
in praise of Aura Lee.

欧儿丽, 欧儿丽,
Ōu Ér Lì, Ōu Ér Lì.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee.

金发多秀美!
Jīn fǎ duō xiùměi!
How fine your golden hair!

阳光照耀在大地,
Yángguāng zhàoyào zài dàdì,
Sunshine glistens in the fields,

燕儿漫天飞.
yànr màntiān fēi.
and swallows fill the air.

The following word list is for your reference. If you’ve been following this blog, you will find that you already know most of the words used in this song. Congratulations!

春风 (chūnfēng) is a breeze in the spring. It also refers to happiness. 飘来 (piāo lái) describes how the breeze wafts towards you.

(yíng) or 欢迎 (huānyíng) is to greet or to welcome.

Here, (miàn) is a surface, and 湖面 (Hú miàn) is the surface of a lake.

(qǐ) is to rise, to raise, to appear or cause to happen. 涟漪 (liányī) are ripples.

枝头小鸟 (Zhī tóu xiǎoniǎo) is a commonly used term referring to a bird or birds perching on the treetop.

(sù) is to tell or to tell of. 衷情 (zhōngqíng) are one’s inner feelings. If instead of 诉衷情, you prefer to sing 唱不停 (chàng bùtíng to sing incessantly), be my guest.

歌颂 (gēsòng) is to sing the praises of someone.
金发 (jīn fǎ) refers to blond hair.
秀美 (xiùměi) means elegantly beautiful.
阳光 (yángguāng) is sunshine.
照耀 (zhàoyào) is to shine or to illuminate.
大地 (dàdì) is the earth.
燕儿 (yànr), or 燕子 (yànzi), are swallows.
(màn) means all over the place.
(tiān) is the sky or a day.
(fēi) is to fly.

Learn Chinese word for going smoothly

The (shùn) character consists of a (chuān river) and a (yè a leaf or a page). Think of a leaf floating down a river, moving along with the flow. This will help you remember that (shùn) means to move smoothly along in the same direction.

(shùn) implies not going against the grain. Therefore, it also means being smooth or agreeable.

顺风 (shùnfēng) is to have a tail wind.

(fān) is the sail of a boat. To wish someone smooth sailing, you could say: 一帆风顺. (Yīfānfēngshùn.) To wish someone a safe trip, you could say: 一路顺风. (Yīlùshùnfēng. Bon voyage)

顺路 (shùnlù) means on the way.

我顺路买了一条面包.
Wǒ shùnlù mǎi le yī tiáo miànbāo.
On the way I bought a loaf of bread.

顺便 (shùnbiàn) means by the way, in passing or at one’s convenience.

他进城时, 顺便来看我.
Tā jìnchéng shí, shùnbiàn lái kàn wǒ.
When he comes to town, he drops by to see me.
(This is an example of a complex sentence.)

顺利 (shùnlì) means doing something smoothly or successfully, or something is going smoothly.

他顺利地通过了考试.
Tā shùnlì de tōngguò le kǎoshì.
He passed the exam without any problem.

万事顺利!
Wànshì shùnlì!
May everything go well for you! All the best!

顺序 (shùnxù) is a noun that means order or sequence. 照顺序做 (zhào shùnxù zuò) means to do things in the proper order. In the game of poker, (shùn) refers to a straight.

To be agreeable to a person, you often must follow their wishes or obey their commands. 顺从 (shùncóng) means to be obedient to or to yield to someone. 孝顺 (xiàoshùn) is said of a person showing filial piety and obedience. This is a virtue that is highly valued by the Chinese.

温顺 (wēnshùn) is an adjective that you could use to describe a person who is gentle and docile. 百依百顺 (bǎiyībǎishùn) means to be totally docile and obedient. 逆来顺受 (nìláishùnshòu) is a phrase describing a resigned person meekly submitting to maltreatment or misfortune without complaint.

顺其自然 (shùnqízìrán) is to follow nature’s course.

这件事顺其自然就好了.
Zhè jiàn shì shùnqízìrán jiù hǎo le.
Just let nature take its course with respect to this matter.

Now, from your own perspective, things that look agreeable or pleasing are said to be 顺眼 (shùnyǎn), and words that you like to hear are said to be 顺耳 (shùněr).

顺口 (shùnkǒu) means saying things offhandedly. It also an adjective used to describe words or text that can be spoken or read smoothly and easily.

顺手 (shùnshǒu) means easy to do without a hitch. This word is also used to describe something that is convenient and easy to use.

顺心 (shùnxīn), or 顺意 (shùnyì), means having things go satisfactorily according to one’s wish.

Have you ever wondered why some people seem happier and more optimistic than you are? Barring actual calamities or serious health or financial problems, it’s often a matter of the frame of mind in which you decide to find yourself. In other words, don’t fret over a sock that’s missing from the wash. It will most likely turn up the next time you do your laundry. Looking at things from the brighter side may take some practicing. For starters, why not sing Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” first thing in the morning? You should be able to sing the following lines to the music for the refrain that begins with “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”.

啊! 多么美丽的早晨!
Ā duōme měilì dì zǎochén!

啊! 多么美的一天!
Ā duōme měi dì yītiān!!

我心中充满了欢欣,
Wǒ xīn zhòng chōngmǎn liǎo huān xīn,

事事都顺意如愿.
Shìshì dōu shùnyì rúyuàn.

When singing a song, it’s customary to pronounce as “dì” and “liǎo” because they are easier to enunciate this way and therefore sound better in a song. In fact, many Chinese people use this alternative pronunciation in their daily speech.

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