Thursday, June 30, 2011

孟母搬家的故事 The Moving Story of Mencius' Mother

Don't you think Mencius' mother is a real FengShui master? Since children's education is traditionally the number one issue of priority in a Chinese family, it's not uncommon to find parents quitting their old jobs and trying to find new jobs in a new place in order to send their children to a better school. It's a  hard decision for a modern family. It's much harder for a single mother in the past, whose only means of making a living was to do laundry and sewing for others.  Mencius' father died when Mencius was only three.

This story has such an influence on Chinese parents nowadays that the condos within the best school

Saturday, June 25, 2011

小小孩儿开饭馆儿 A wee little Child has Opened a Restaurant

Most of children are fond of “play house". To play restaurant is more fun!
This rhyme plays with the "er” sound, which is typical of Beijing Dialect.


xiao3  xiao3 hai2er  kai1  fan4guan3er.
kai1kai1  fan4dian4er  liang3 shan4  men2er.
xiao3 zhuo1zi er   xiao3  qi3zier.
wu1mu4  kuai4zier xiao3  fan4 wan3er.


A wee little child has opened a restaurant,
The restaurant opens and the child opens two doors.
There's a wee little table, a wee little chair,
Some ebony chopsticks, and a wee little bowl.

Monday, June 20, 2011

24 Form Tai Chi Chuan

The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. The notion of 'supreme ultimate' is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. 'Force' can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ying-yang, or 'supreme-ultimate' harmony.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced in the west today, can perhaps best be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so- called forms (sometimes also called 'sets') which consist of a sequence of movements. Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the natural movements of animals and birds) although the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011



Monday, June 13, 2011

一张画儿 A Painting

Is this story a classical joke about modern arts?  I found it everywhere. It does prove that a piece of white paper is full of possibilities. I hear another version of the story is a piece of black paper with the tile "The Owl Eats the Mouse".

有一天, 张文去参加李朋的生日晚会, 看到李朋画的画儿很好, 就说: “李朋, 你可以给我画一张画儿吗?” 李朋笑着说: “可以,你下个星期六来拿吧。”
到了星期六, 张文又来到李朋家。 他进门就问: “你给我的画儿画好了吗?” 李朋说: “画好了。” 张文问: “ 在哪儿呢?” 李朋说: “在这儿。” 张文一看, 是一张白纸, 就说: “你还没画呀?”李朋说: “画了, 我画的是牛吃草。” 张文说: “ 这儿没有草啊!” 李朋说: “草都被牛吃了。” 张文问: “那牛呢?” 李朋说: “没有草了,牛还在这里做什么?”

you3yi4tian1, zhang1wen2  qu4  can1jia1  li3peng2de  sheng1ri4 wan3hui4,  kan4dao4  li3peng2  hua4de  hua4er  hen3hao3,  jiu4 shuo1: "li3peng2,  ni3  ke3yi3  gei3 wo3  hua4  yi4zhang1hua4er ma1?"  li3peng2  xiao4zhe  shuo1:" ke3yi3, ni3  xia4ge4  xing1qi1liu4  lai2 na2ba." 
dao4le   xing1qi1liu4,  zhang1wen2   you4  lai2dao4  li3peng2 jia1. ta1  jin4men2jiu4wen4:" ni3 gei3  wo3de  hua4er  hua4hao3lema? "  li3peng2shuo1:"hua4hao3le."  zhang1wen2 wen4 :"zai4  na3er ne?" li3peng2shuo1: "zai4  zhe4er."  zhang1wen2 yi2kan4,  shi4  yi4zhang1  bai2zhi3,  jiu4shuo1: "ni3 mei2 hua4 a!"  li3peng2 shuo1: "hua4le, wo3 hua4de  shi4  niu2 chi1  cao3."  zhang1wen2 shuo1: "zhe4er  mei2you3  cao3  a!"  li3peng2 shuo1: "cao3  dou1  bei4  niu2  chi1le."  zhang1wen2  wen4: "na4  niu2  ne?"   li3peng2 shuo1: "mei2you3 cao3le,  niu2  hai2zai4  zhe4li3  zuo4shen2me?"

One day,  Zhang Wen went to Li Peng's birthday party. He saw that the paintings done by Li Peng were very good. So he said: "Li Peng, can you paint a painting for me?"  Li Peng said while smiling:"Okay, you come to pick it up next Saturday."
It was Saturday. Zhang Wen came to Li Peng's place again.  He asked once he entered the room:" Are you done with the painting for me?"  Li Peng said:" Yes, it's done." Zhang Wen asked:"where is it?"   Li Peng said:" It's here."  Zhang Wen took a look and saw a piece of white paper. So he said:" Oh, you didn't paint it yet." Li Peng said:"I did. What I painted is a cow grazing."  Zhang1wen2 said:"But here is no grass!" Li Peng said:" the grass was eaten by the cow."  Zhang Wen asked:"How about th cow then?"  Li Peng said:" With the grass gone, why would the cow still be here?"

名落孙山 Name Falling Behind SunShan

This story shows an example of Chinese euphemism. There are thousands of Chinese expessions like the title of this story that are made up of four Chinese characters, which are usually originated from stories in the history or  classical writings.

宋朝*1的时候,有一个人叫孙山。 他很会说笑话。有一年,他离开家到京城参加考试,结果考上了, 可是发榜*2时, 他的名字在最后。
孙山回到家里以后,很多人来看他。 孙山的一个朋友的儿子也参加了考试,就来问孙山, 他儿子有没有考上。 孙山没有直接回答。 他说: “我的名字在榜上是最后一个, 你儿子的名字落在我的后面。”后来,我们就用“名落孙山” 来形容考试没有通过。

song4chao2 *1 deshi2hou,  you3yi2ge4ren2  jiao4 sun1shan1. ta1  hen3hui4  shuo1 xiao4hua.  you3yi4nian2,  ta1 li2kai1  jia1  dao4  jing1cheng2 can1jia1  kao3shi4, jie1guo3  kao3shang4le,  ke3shi4  fa1bang3*2  shi2,  ta1de  ming2zi4  zai4  zui4hou4.
sun1shan1  hui2dao4  jia1li3  yi3hou4,  hen3duo1ren2  lai2  kan4 ta1.  sun1shan1de  yi1ge4 peng2youde  er2zi  ye3  can1jia1le  kao3shi4, jiu4 lai2 wen4 Sun1Shan1, ta1 er2zi  you3mei2you3  kao3shang4. Sun1 Shan1 mei2you3  zhi2jie1 hui2da2. ta1  shuo1: "wo3de  ming2zi4  zai4 bang3shang4  shi4  zui4hou4  yi2ge4, ni3 er2zi de  ming2zi4  luo4zai4  wo3de hou4mian4." hou4lai2   wo3men jiu4 yong4  “ming2luo4sun1shan1" lai2  xing2rong2  kao3shi4  mei2you3  tong1guo4.

*1-Song Dynasy lasted from 960 AD to 1279 AD.
*2 - fa1bang3 means to publish a list of successful applicants. In the past, the students everywhere in China had to go to the capital city of the county or the country to take exams. If the student did well in the exam, he would be awarded a kind of title (degree like BA, MA). And his name would be on the list, which was put up on the public bullitin board. The names were arranged in the order of scores from the highest  to the lowest instead of alphabetically. Therefore, it usually took the student a long time to find out if he was on the list or not.

In Song Dynasty, there once a man called Sun Shan. He was very good at joking. One year, he left home to take part in the  exam in the capital city. He turned out to have passed the exam. However, when the list of passed students was published, his name appeared as the last one.
After Sun Shan returned home, many people came to visit him. One of his friends had a son, who also took part in the same exam. So his friend came to ask Sun Shan if his son had passed the exam or not. Sun Shan didn't answer him directly. He said:"My name is the last one on the list. Your son's name fell behind mine."
Later, we use the expression "name falling behind Sun Shan" to describe failing in an exam.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

十二月花名歌 The Song of Flowers in Twelve Months

Learn how to say all these popular flowers in Chinese! I made a little changes here and there for language learning.

正月梅花香又香。 zheng1yue4 mei2hua1 xiang1 you4 xiang1.
二月兰花盆里装。er2yue4 lan2hua2 peng2li3 zhuang1.
三月丁香花满树。san1yue4 ding1xiang1 hua1 man3 shu4.
四月杜鹃靠矮墙。si4yue4 du4juan1 kao4 ai3 qiang2.
五月百合香十里, wu3yue4 bai3he2 xiang1 shi2li3.
六月玫瑰最漂亮。liu4yue4 mei3gui zui4piao4liang.
七月茉莉头上戴。liu4yue4 mo4li tou2shang4 dai4.
八月荷花满池塘。ba1yue4 he2hua1 man3 chi2tang2.
九月菊花初开放。jiu3yue4 ju2hua1 chu1 kai1fang4.
十月薰衣草吐芬芳。shi2yue4 xun1yi1cao3 tu3 fen1fang1.
十一月水仙摆上桌,shi2yi1yue4 shui3xian1 bai3 shang1 zhuo1.
十二月腊梅雪里香。shi2er2yue4 la4mei2 xueli3 xiang1.


Jasmine flowers

winter plum blossoms

(According to the Chinese lunar calendar -- which is about one month later than the calendar you use, say, the first month means February),


In the first month, plum blossom smells so sweet.
In the second month, orchid is held inside the pot.
In the third month, lilac fills up the whole tree.
In the fourth month, azaleas lean against the low wall.
In the fifth month, lilies' fragrance drifts to 10 miles far.
In the sixth month, roses are the most beautiful
In the seventh month, jasmine is worn on (girl's) head.
In the eighth month, the pond is filled with lotus flower.
In the ninth month, chrysanthemums start to bloom.
In the tenth month, lavenders spit their fragrance.
In the eleventh month, daffodils are set on the table.
In the twelfth month, winter plum sends its aroma in the snow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

李冰造都江堰 Li Bing Builds the DuJiangYan Irrigation Project

The famous Three Gorges Dam has caused so much controversy that only our future generations can give it an objective evaluation. However, in the same area not far from the great Dam, there is another well-known irrigation and water conservancy project called Du Jiang Yan. It was built around 250 BC (the Warring State Period), and to our amazement, this 2260-year-old construction still benefits the farming of tens of millions of acres in Sichuan Province nowadays. It has withstood the disastrous earthquake in May of 2008, which occurred only about 40km north of Du Jiang Yan.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

杨树叶子哗啦啦 The Poplar Leaves Murmur

This is a lullaby. It must be very pacifying to hear mom's repeated promise and fall asleep in the rustling sound of poplar leaves.


yang2shu4  ye4zi  hua1la1la1,
xiao3hai2zi    shui4jiao4  zhao3  ma1ma1.
guai1guai1  bao3bei4   ni3  shui4ba,
da4  hui1 lang2  lai2le  wo3  da3  ta1.


Poplar leaves murmur, hua-la-la.
My child looks for mama to sleep (close to).
Sleep, my precious baby.
If  the big grey wolf shows up, I'll beat him away.