Tuesday, August 30, 2011

疙瘩疙瘩快下去 Bump, Bump, Go Away

Uh-oh, got an ouch! 


疙瘩疙瘩快下去,
别叫奶奶看见。
奶奶如果看见,
不给我吃饼干。


ge1da   ge1da   kuai4  xia4qu.
bie2  jiao4 nai3nai  kan4jian4.
nai3nai  ru2guo3  kan4jian4,
bu4gei3  wo3 chi1  bing3gan1.


Translation:


Bump, bump, please go away fast,
Don't let grandma see you.
If she sees you,
She won't give me crackers to eat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

井底的青蛙 The Frog at the Bottom of the Well

How do we know if we are not the frog inside a well? We'll never know the truth if the sea turtle didn't show up.


I admire the bear who went over the mountain to see what's on the other side of the mountain. However, I'm sure the frog would be quite content to continue living inside the well even if he has learned about the great exciting sea. His life in the well is indeed very peaceful and comfortable. As a Chinese saying goes: "My nest made of hay is much better than gold and silver nests that belong to others."
"金窝银窝,不如自家的草窝。”






很久很久以前,在一口老井里住着一只青蛙。 一天,青蛙在井边遇到一只从东海来的大龟。青蛙就对海龟说:“你看,我住的地方多好啊!世界上没有比我的井更好的地方了。 如果我想玩,就可以跳到井边玩。 玩腻了,就回到井里休息一下,露出头和嘴巴,安安静静地泡在水里, 这多方便啊!或者在软软的泥里散散步,也很舒适。而且,我是这个井里的主人,想做什么就做什么,你为什么不进来看看呢?”


那海龟听了青蛙的话,就到井里去看了看。觉得井里不像青蛙说得那么好,又小又黑,一点儿意思都没有, 就对青蛙说:“你看见过大海吗?闹水灾的时候,海水不会多很多。很长时间不下雨,海水也不会少很多。 住在大海里才真的快乐呢!”


青蛙听了非常不好意思,他这才明白自己知道的太少了


hen3jiu3  hen3jiu3  yi3qian2,  zai4  yi4kou3 lao3jing3li3  zhu4zhe  yi4zhi1 qing1wa1.  yi4tian1,  qing1wa1  zai4  jing3bian1  yu4dao4  yi4zhi1   cong2  dong1hai3lai2 de   da4gui1.   qing1wa1  jiu4 dui4  hai3gui1  shuo1: "ni3kan4,  wo3  zhu4de  di4fang  duo1 hao3 a!  shi4jie4shang4   mei2you3  bi3  wo3de  jing3  geng4hao3de  di4fang le.  ru2guo3  wo3  xiang3  wan2,  jiu4  ke3yi3   tiao4dao4  jing3bian1  wan2.  wan2ni4le,   jiu4  hui2dao4   jing3li3  xiu1xi  yi2xia4,  lu4chu1   tou2 he2  zui3ba,  an1an1jing4jing4de   pao4zai4   shui3li3,  zhe4  duo1  fang1bian4a!  huo4zhe3   zai4  ruan3ruan3de  ni2li3  san4san4bu4,  ye3hen3  shu1shi4.  er2qie3,  wo3  shi4  zhe4ge4  jing3li3de  zhu3ren2,  xiang3 zuo4  shen2me  jiu4 zuo4  shen2me,  ni3 wei4shen2me   bu4 jin4lai2  kan4kan4 ne?"
na4  hai3gui1  ting1le  qing1wa1de  hua4,  jiu4 dao4  jing3li3  qu4  kan4lekan4.  jue2de  jing3li3  bu1xiang4  qing1wa1 shuo1de  na4me  hao3,  you4xiao3  you4hei1, yi1dian3r   yi4si  dou1  mei2you3,  jiu4 dui4  qing1wa1  shuo1: " ni3  kan4jian4  guo4  da4hai3 ma?  nao4  shui3zai1  deshi2hou4,  hai3shui3  bu2hui4  duo1 hen3duo1. hen3chang2  shi2jian1   bu4  xia4yu3,  hai3shui3  ye3  bu2hui4  shao3  hen3duo1.  zhu4  zai4  da4hai3li3  cai2  zhen1de  kaui4le4ne!"
qing1wa1  ting1le  fei1chang2  bu4hao3  yi4si,  ta1  zhe4  cai2  ming2bai2  zi4ji3  zhi1dao4de tai4shao3le.

Translation:


A long long time ago,  in a deserted well lived a frog. One day, on the edge of the well, the frog met a big turtle from the East Sea.  The frog said to the turtle: "Look, what a nice place I'm living at! No place in the world can be better than my well. If I feel like playing, I can jump onto the edge of the well and play there.  If I'm tired of playing, I will return to the well and take a rest. I'll soaking myself in the water quietly, showing only my head and mouth. How convenient it is! Or I could take a walk in the soft mud, and it is also very relaxing. Moreover,  I'm the master of the well. So I can do anything I want. Why don't you come inside and have a look?


Hearing this, the turtle went inside the well and took a look.  It was a small dark place, not interesting at all. He felt it was not as nice as the frog talked about. So he said to the frog,  "Have you ever see the sea? In times of flooding, the water in the sea didn't increase much. If it doesn't rain for a long time, the sea water won't decrease much either.  It is real happiness to live in the sea!"


The frog was very embarassed when he heard this. He then realized that he didn't know  a lot (about the outside world).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

小金娃, 骑金马 The Little Golden Baby Rides a Golden Horse

This Chinese nursery rhyme reminds me of "There was a Crooked Man". The Chinese seem to prefer "golden" as the adjective for everything  in stead of "crooked".

小金娃, 骑金马,
金马金鞭打。
梧桐树,金乌鸦,
开了庙门金菩萨,
金手抱着金娃娃。

 Pheonix Trees
xiao3  jin1  wa2,  qi2  jin1  ma3,
jin1  ma3  jin1  bian1  da3.
wu2tong2  shu4,  jin1  wu1ya1,
 kai1le   miao4men2  jin1  pu2sa,
jin1  shou3  bao4zhe  jin1  wa2wa.

Translation

The little golden baby rides a golden  horse.
He lashes the golden horse with his golden whip.
(He sees) golden birds on the golden phoenix trees.
Opening the door of temple, and (he sees) a golden Buddha,
Its golden hands holding a golden baby. 



For your reference:

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house

Monday, August 15, 2011

自相矛盾 The story of Spears and Shields


Many of the advertisements nowadays are full of contradictions if analyzed carefully. However, nobody seems to care. Ads are supposed to brag a little, some or a lot?


从前有个人,在市场上卖矛和盾。 他拿起盾对人说: “你们看我的盾! 我的盾是世界上最好的,什么矛都刺不穿它!” 然后,他又拿起矛说:“你们再来看我的矛!我的矛是世界上最厉害的, 什么盾它都能刺穿。” 大家听了他的话,都觉得十分好笑。有个人问他: “如果你说的都是真的,你的矛是世界上最厉害的, 什么盾都能刺穿,你的盾是世界上最好的, 什么矛都刺不穿它, 那么用你的矛来刺你的盾, 结果会怎么样呢?” 那个人听了,就很快地收起他的矛和盾, 离开了。所以,中文“矛盾”这个词的意思是contradiction.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

你这孩子爱淘气 You Little Kid Likes to Play Naughty Tricks

Have you wished that your naughty little ones would stay at the camp longer as you are enjoying your precious quiet moment at home? This one is told from the point of view of a mother.  It sounds a milder form of threatening to me. As I grew up, I've heard many stronger versions than this.  For example, "I'll give you away to the beggar if you don't behave yourself!" Or " I'll call for the big bad wolf  if you don't stop ...now!" But the little ones have become smarter now than we used to be, aren't they?

你这孩子爱淘气,
送你去南山看瓜地。
等到瓜儿都熟透了,
我才让你回家去。

ni3  zhe4  hai2zi  ai4  tao2qi4,
song4  ni3  qu5   nan2shan1   kan5  gua1di4.
deng3dao4  gua1er  dou1  shu2tou4le,
wo3  cai2  rang4 ni3  hui2jia1  qu4.
Translation:

You little kid likes to play naughty tricks,
I'll send you to the melon fields at the Southern Mountain to watch (out for thieves) .
You stay there till all the melons are completely ripe,
Then you are allowed to go home.

Friday, August 5, 2011

怎样挑选女婿 How to Pick the Right Son-in-law

When I first read the story in the elementary school, I was quite puzzled why the rude young man was chosen as the son-in-law. The strange story becomes more meaningful as I grew up.



What are the modern standards of ideal son-in-laws? According to the recent Chinese Courtship and Marriage Survey of 1,550,000 people by two Chinese matchmaker websites, material wealth has become a decisive factor for marriage stability. Usually the criteria of choosing one's spouse include financial status, family background, personalities and physical appearance. Which criteria did the prime minister used to pick his son-in-law?
这个故事发生在公元五世纪的中国。那时有个宰相,他有个漂亮的女儿,到了结婚的年纪。 有一天,宰相叫他的手下给朝廷的学校*1送一封信, 请校长帮他选一个女婿。
校长说:“我有很多学生住在旁边的房子里,你自己去选吧。”宰相的手下去旁边的房子看了回来报告宰相说: “校长的学生都很不错,听说我来给您选女婿,个个都很客气,站起来打招呼,只有一个学生躺在东边的一张床上,好像没看见我。”
宰相听了就说:  “这个人好!” 于是, 他去看那个年轻人, 后来把女儿嫁*2给了他。那个年轻人的名字叫王羲之。 他后来成为中国最有名的书法家。 现在中国人把女婿也叫做“东床”, 就是从这个故事来的。



zhe4ge4 gu4shi4  fa1sheng1 zai4  gong1yuan2 wu5shi4ji4 de zhong1guo2.  na4shi2  you3ge4  zai3xiang4,  ta4you3  ge4  piao4liang de  nv3er,  dao4le  jie1hun1de  nian2ji4.  you3yi4tian1,  zai3xiang4  jiao4  ta1de  shou3xia4  gei3 chao2ting2de  xue2xiao4  *1 song4   yi4feng1xin4,   qing3  xiao4zhang3  bang1 ta1  xuan3  yi2ge4  nv3xu4. 
xiao4zhang3  shuo1: "wo3 you3  hen3duo1  xue2sheng1  zhu4zai4  pang2bian1de  fang2zi li3, ni3  zi4ji3  qu4  xuan3 ba." zai3xiang4de   shou3xia4  qu4  pang2bian1de  fang2zi  kan4le  hui2lai2  bao4gao4  zai3xiang4  shuo1: "xiao4zhang3de  xue2sheng1 dou1  bu2cuo4,  ting1shuo1  wo3  lai2  gei3 nin2  xuan3  nv3xu4,  ge4ge4  dou1  hen3  ke4qi4,  zhan4qi3lai2  da3zhao1hu,  zhi2you3  yi2ge  xue2sheng4  tang3zai4  dong1bian1de  yi4zhang1chuang1 shang4,  hao3xiang4  mei2 kan4jian4  wo3."
zai3xiang4  ting1le  jiu4shuo1: "zhe4ge4ren2  hao3!"  yu2shi4,  ta1  qu4 kan4  na4ge4  nian2qing1ren2. hou4lai2 ba3  nv3er  jia4 *2 gei3le  ta1. na4ge4 nian2qing1ren2de  ming2zi4  jiao4  wang2xi1zhi1.  ta1  hou4lai2  cheng2wei4  zhong1guo2  zui4you3ming2de  shu1fa3jia1.  xian4zai4   zhong1guo2ren2  ba3 nv3xu4  ye3  jiao4zuo4  "dong1chuang2",  jiu4shi4  cong2  zhe4ge4  gu4shi4  lai2de.

 

*1 The special academy at the Chinese court was considered the highest and most prestigious educational institution in  the country. But in contrast to Harvard or Yale, it was the only state-run school in China at that time. All the rest schools in China were private at that time.



*2 For a woman to marry a man is called "jia4"(to add to); for a man to marry a woman is called "qu3"(to take).

Translation:
The story took place in China in the 5th century  when there was a prime minister.  He had a beautiful daughter who had reached the age of getting married.  One day, the prime minister dispatched one of his man to send a letter to the principal of the court academy, asking the principal to choose a son-in-law for him.

The principal said, " Many of my students live right next door. You can go and choose one by yourself." So the prime minister's man went to the house next to them to take a look. He  reported to the prime minister when he returned: " All the principal's students are very nice. When they heard that I was there to choose a son-in-law for you, they were very good-mannered. They all stood up and greeted me. All but one student who (continued to) lay in the bed on the east side,  as if he didn't see me."
One the prime minister heard this, he said: " This is the right man." Hence, he went along to see the young man, and later married his daughter to him. The young man is called Wang Xizhi. He later became the most famous calligrapher in the Chinese history. Now Chinese people also call "son-in-law" "the east side bed", and that's where it comes from.