Read a novel in Chinese and English

Chinese edition of The Little Monk

The Little Monk in Chinese

The Little Monk

The Little Monk in English

Earlier this year I mentioned that I planned to publish a middle-grade novel in both English and Chinese. I am pleased to announce that the English and Chinese editions of “The Little Monk are now available as Kindle eBooks at amazon.com.

It’s been quite a few years since I started this blog site, and I hope that some of you have advanced to the intermediate level in your study of the Chinese language. Are you ready to take on the challenge of reading a complete novel in Chinese? To date there is still a shortage of bilingual English-Chinese reading material for intermediate level language students.

The fact is that reading the same material side by side in Chinese and English can greatly benefit both the Chinese and English language learners.

If you don’t have a Kindle reading device, you can still read Kindle eBooks─on your PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android-based phone or tablet. Please see the information provided at this link.

To give you an idea of what the story is about, here is a brief description.

十七世纪中, 台湾被称作福摩萨,  
Shíqīshìjì zhōng, Táiwān bèi chēng zuò Fú Mó Sà,
In the 17th century, Taiwan was called the Island of Formosa,

意为美丽的小岛.
yì wéi měilì de xiǎodǎo.
meaning “Beautiful Island”.

岛上有宜人的气候, 令人瞩目的风景, 
Dǎo shàng yǒu yírén de qìhòu, lìngrén zhǔmù de fēngjǐng,
The island featured pleasant climate, eye-catching scenery,

以及丰富的自然资源.
yǐjí fēngfù de zìran zīyuán.
and rich natural resources.

各国强权纷纷来到, 建立了殖民地.
Gèguó qiángquán fēnfēn láidào, jiànlì le zhímíndì.
Foreign powers flocked to the place to colonize it.

这个故事发生在一个被西班牙统治的地区.
Zhègè gùshi fāshēng zài yīgè bèi Xībānyá tǒngzhì de dìqū.
This story took place during the brief Spanish rule of part of the island.

娃娃出生之后不久就与他的父母分离
Wáwa chūshēng zhīhòu bùjiǔ jiù yǔ tā de fùmǔ fēnlí
Shortly after Wawa was born, he was separated from his parents

而被一位中国少林和尚收容了.
ér bèi yī wèi shào lín héshàng shōuróng le.
and taken in by a Chinese Shaolin monk.

他十二岁时已经熟读佛经, 并且练了一身好功夫.
Tā shí’èr suì shí yǐjīng shú dú Fójīng, bìngqiě liàn le yīshēn hǎo gōngfu.
At the age of 12, he was already trained in Buddhism and kung fu skills.

娃娃想要从另外一位师父那儿学习石猴功.
Wáwa xiǎng yào cóng lìngwài yī wèi shīfu nàr xuéxí shí hóu gōng.
Wawa wanted to learn the unique Rock Monkey Kung Fu from another master.

在前往那位师父的途中, 他遇到了他的父亲尤大, 
Zài qiánwǎng nèi wèi shīfu de túzhōng, tā bùyì yùdào le tā de fùqin Yóudà.
On the trip to seek the other master, Wawa encountered his father Yotas,

但是两人都不知道他们之间的父子关系.
Dànshì liǎng rén dōu bù zhīdào tāmen zhījiān de fù zǐ guānxi.
but neither one was aware of their kinship.

娃娃也遇到他的对手明善. 
Wáwa yě yùdào tā de duìshǒu Míngshàn.
Wawa also encountered his adversary, Mingshan.

明善正要帮助西班牙军队逮捕尤大.
Míngshàn zhèng yào bāngzhù Xībānyá jūnduì dàibǔ Yóudà.
Minshan was helping the conquistadors to capture Yotas.

The twists in the plot of this story will keep you wondering what eventually happened to each of the main characters. At the same time, you will have a glimpse of the local scenery and the multi-cultural history of the place. You will be entertained by the amazing kung fu fighting actions, and hopefully also give some thought to racial prejudice and religious tolerance.

To watch a video showing scenes similar to those used as the background of this story, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhzZ3n8Q0Q

To watch a video about the aborigine tribes in Taiwan, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cRl8FuK-YQ

How beautiful in Chinese

Rhododendrons in Bloom

Rhododendrons in Bloom


To help celebrate the joy of spring before it is outshone by the glory of summer, I’ll call on a delightful old song written by the talented 黎锦光 (Lí Jǐn Guāng):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYCdz2t-T_c

The first verse is presented below in simplified Chinese.

少年的我 (Shàonián de Wǒ) Me in My Youth

春天的花
Chūntiān de huā
Flowers in the spring –

是多么的香!
shì duōme de xiāng.
How fragrant they are!

秋天的月
Qiūtiān de yuè
The moon in the fall –

是多么的亮!
shì duōme de liàng.
How bright it is!

少年的我
Shàonián de wǒ
Me in my youth –

是多么的快乐!
shì duōme de kuàilè.
How happy I’m feeling!

美丽的她
Měilì de tā
Beautiful she –

不知怎么样?
bùzhī zěnmeyàng?
I wonder how she is doing?

This song is full of exclamatory sentences that start with the word “how”. Used in this sense, the Chinese equivalent is 是多么的 (shì duōme de), 是多么 (shì duōme), or simply 多么 (duōme), which is often shortened to just (duō).

他對待妳是多么的好!
Tā duìdài nǐ shì duōme de hǎo!
How nice he treats you!

妳看, 她的男朋友多么英俊!
Nǐ kàn, tā de duōme yīngjùn!
See, how handsome her boyfriend is!

啊! 多美丽!
Ā! Duō měilì
Oh! How beautiful!

As for the other meaning of “how”, as in asking a question, the commonly used Chinese equivalent is 怎么 (zěnme). In a more formal context, we use 如何 (rúhé). For example:

这种鱼要怎么煮?
Zhèzhǒng yú yào zěnme zhǔ?
How do you cook this kind of fish?

To verbally inquire about an acquaintance, I might ask:

他最近怎么样?
Tā zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?
How is he doing lately?

In a letter, I might write:

他的近况如何?
Tā de jìnkuàng rúhé?
How has he been recently?

Your challenge for this lesson is to use the same syntax and form as the above song to make a short rhyme about a subject of your choice. If you would like to share your limerick, please post it in a comment to this post. Thanks.

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“.

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!

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