5000 Most Common Chinese Characters, Printable and Excel Spreadsheet

9 May

This site is of course now archival/effectively inactive, but I found this while trawling through a forum and had to share it. Credit to Ryan Kellog, an excellent human being, for the spreadsheet.

Kellog’s spreadsheet: 5000 Common Characters.

Printable PDF: First 5000. For the chars that have no descriptions – don’t freak out, there are maybe 10, all after 4750 – assume that they’re included because they found commonly in names.

加油!

Liebster Award 谢谢 and Nominations

4 Sep

Hi, everyone! Long time no see, hope life’s going swimmingly.

After logging onto WordPress for the first time in over two months (busy summer), I found in my comments: 1.) spam, and 2.) a lovely surprise from Diane at CultureQuote! (And maybe a comment or two. Sorry if I’ve forgotten you – short memory, nothing personal. 😀 )

Diane has given me a Liebster Award, which, according to my Google search, is a PR torch that bloggers pass around to recommend similar blogs to readers, thank favorites, and encourage newbies. There seem to be a few variations roaming about, but the one that I was given asked the recipient to:

  • Thank the giver.
  • Post the Liebster Award on my site.
  • List 11 random facts about myself.
  • Answer the five questions given.
  • Create five new questions, and –
  • Pass the Liebster Award onto five other bloggers with less than 200 followers. Remember to send them a comment or email!

Thank you, CultureQuote! For those looking for a wealth of language learning resources, CultureQuote seems to be on a mission to compile every Asian drama and pop song, as well as a healthy smattering of Spanish, French, and Hindi resources. A great and noble site, dedicated, in our stead, to hunting down and translating the vagaries of 第二语言 pop music.

Language learners, please take a moment to honor them. Yours is a worthy cause, CultureQuote. 😀

In all seriousness, I’m honored, Diane. I’m happy to do all of the above, but for the sake of my awardees, I’ll streamline the requests to:

  • Thank the giver. (Optional: Send them fruit baskets, silent curses, or a virtual hug.)
  • Post the Liebster Award on your site.
  • List 5 – 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Pass the Liebster Award onto five other bloggers with less than 200 followers.

And we’ll leave the following two optional:

  • Answer the five questions given.
  • Create five new questions, or pass on the existing five.

I have no idea how to check follower counts, so I’ve just chosen a few of my favorite individually run blogs. A couple of you probably have quite a few more than the requisite, but whatever, big fish need love too. 😀

For my nominees: please feel free to decline to pass this on. This is just a small thank you for your fantastic blogs – everyone, go check them out!

Here we go!

I Heart the Brazil – An American lawyer in NZ, posting about travel, work, life, writing books, and bar exams.

The Genre Salmon – On writing, reading, and blogging.

Hotpot – All about Chinese-ness – culture, food, family, and philosophy.

Line 21 Project – Documenting PRC soft power and propaganda in the 21st century.

The Vegan Kitchen of Dr. Caligiri – A food blog. By Dr. Caligiri. He’s vegan. And just so we’re clear, he works in kitchens. Cooking.

My questions for my nominees:

  1. Oranges. How do you feel about oranges?
  2. If cost and convenience weren’t factors, what would be your ideal breakfast?
  3. How long do you think it would take you to learn Mandarin from scratch? (For those who speak Mandarin, please substitute Arabic or Hindi. Fluent in all three? Just… kudos to you.)
  4. At the moment that you’re reading this, which city in the world do you most want to be in?
  5. Could you describe your hometown for us, in a few short sentences?

Thank you all!

Now, to claim my Liebster Award:

liebster award

Step one.

And to answer CultureQuote’s questions:

  • If there was a singular wish you could have granted (standard rules: no wish for wishes, etc.) what would you wish for and why?

World peace. Caveat: the genie is forbidden to screw with human nature. Part of me wonders if the poor fellow would implode.

  • What is your most cherished memory?

It’s a long story, so I’ll just give you the beginning and the end. It began with me waking up at 4 to doodle cattails as the sun rose, and it ended with me returning home in the evening soaked through by a summer rainstorm, carrying two bags of Indian takeout. It’s pretty much a cohesive story, so I’ll count it as one memory.

  •  What is your most common typo?

Doubling words words and skipping them. I constantly words.

  • If you could spot-on impersonate anyone in the world, who would that be?

Um, Bruce Lee. Of course. 😀

(Though upon reflection, that might not be what you had in mind as you wrote the question.)

  • What is the one song you cannot get out of your head recently?

罗大佑 (Luó Dàyòu)’s “恋曲1990“. The background track to my mother’s formal ed era.

Really, I’ve listened to it once and didn’t understand most of what he was saying, and the tune has been stuck in my head for a week. The Youtube link is above. You’ve been warned.

And lastly, 11 random facts about myself:

  1. My handwriting is illegible to most mortals.
  2. I prefer plaid to stripes, and solid colors to them both.
  3. I love oranges. Really, love them. The way a mother loves her firstborn child. (Note to nominees: there’s a right answer and a wrong answer to my first question.)
  4. I can only raise my right eyebrow. The other one basically just twitches in place.
  5. My favorite drink is ice water, with room temperature water coming in a close second.
  6. I take my tea straight.
  7. And my coffee black. Hardcore, right?
  8. I think of myself as pretty hardcore.
  9. I’m great at ignoring evidence that contradicts my narcissism.
  10. I fear neither pain nor death, but automatic pool cleaners and plastic sippy cups give me the shivers.
  11. Yeah, I rely on #9 a lot.

Thanks again for the honor, CultureQuote.

Also, this marks my return to posting regularly! Though whether that will end in triumph or awkward despair remains to be seen; I’m a little pressed for time this season, so posts might be rough, and editing thoroughness questionable.

To paraphrase Confucius, though: Fun times and rainbow dreams be ahead!

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.

一会儿见!  (Yī huĭr jiàn! See you in a little while!)

和祝我好运!  (Hé zhù wǒ hǎoyùn! And wish me luck!)

Oops. Never Updated “Up Next”. Also, Poll

5 Jun

Apologies, apologies – I’ll figure out a routine for updating that thing.

On the topic of what’s up next, please do me a favor and vote in the poll below. I finally have time to actually begin writing again – my student summer has begun! – and while I base my posts on what’s helpful for me, I’d love to hear what’s been helpful for you. This blog has almost dozens of followers, so this poll becomes statistically relevant if only 1/8 of a person votes.

Yep, I get statistics. Impressed?

Best Way To Learn Mandarin Vocab: Picture Flashcards

31 May

Mandarin Picture Flashcards

Well, maybe not the best way. Right after I published this for the first time, my favorite voice of cynicism scanned through the post and asked me how I could possibly know that this was the best method out there. Sigh. Fair enough, voice of cynicism. For the sake of accuracy, then, let’s just say that this is a really, really good way of learning new Mandarin vocab. Introducing… picture flashcards!

Instead of regular flashcards, which have English on one side and Mandarin (character, pinyin, etc.) on the other, picture flashcards use no English, only Mandarin. One side picture, the other side Mandarin. I’ve found it much easier to actually use the vocab I learn in this method, whether in writing or speaking. I have far fewer of those wait-I’m-translating pauses when I only associate the word with the concept that it’s meant to express, instead having to go through the middleman of my native English.

Below is an example of how I format mine. The benefit to this format is that I don’t need a double-side printer or scissor skills, as I can just fold the paper in half lengthwise. The drawback is that it uses twice as much paper. Go with your personal priorities, I suppose.

Mandarin Picture Flashcards

And this is a fairly conceptual example. If the vocab list is along the lines of “turtle”, the flashcards should take all of 10 minutes to create and print.

Once you have the formatting down, it doesn’t take all that long to create a nice set of picture flashcards. I’ll make my Word doc format available for download ASAP, but until then (or if you gasped in horror at my waste of resources), columns on Word or one of those online flashcard format gadgets work perfectly well.

I’m sure – as in 100% certain (do some of you already use this method?) – that I’m not the first one to have thought of this, but I haven’t yet been able to find any sites or microblogs working with this. Admittedly, the only Google searches I did were “mandarin picture based flashcards” and “image language learning flashcards”. Yeah. If any of you find a good resource, please share in the comments.

[Update: You can make these on Quizlet! Click the “Add images” box when you create a new set, and you can upload images on one side of the flashcard without text. Much, much faster than Word Docs.]

In my defense, I haven’t even logged in to WordPress for a couple of months, much less found the time to actually write anything. The joys of being a full-time student… To paraphrase the wisdom of Goku, “GGGGGGAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”

My summer begins next Wednesday, so hopefully I’ll jump back into regular posting soon. If you try this strategy, let me know how it works for you. Hope all y’all have been keeping up your study – keep on truckin’!

(Note: This post was mis-updated (read: completely erased) more than once, and I was frustrated enough by the time I finished rewriting it that I just clicked Publish without any proofreading. Please tell me if you spot anything that needs edits.)

 

Back From Abroad With Assorted Random Vocabulary

20 Apr

I just got back from abroad this past week (sincere apologies about the lack of posts for the past month), and even though it was a fantastic trip in all other ways, my Chinese didn’t get a lot of attention. So to get back into the groove of things, here’s a list of some random vocabulary words that I’ve picked up recently.

When I said random, I meant random. I don’t even remember where I encountered most of these. Chocolate? Highways? Socialism? The California San Francisco Bay Area? It’s all here.

There will hopefully be a more cohesive entry by next week, but until then, enjoy.

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巧克力 (Qiaǒkēlì – Chocolate)

Hey, can’t hate on chocolate. I’ve heard this word spoken before, many times, but I’d never seen it written until last Saturday. Look at it. 巧克力. It just looks like chocolate.

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地道 (Dìdào – Authentic, genuine)

Also means tunnel. When 地道 is used as “authentic”, it can be used to describe language skill, with “authentic” meaning “native-like”. Maybe this describes you; it definitely doesn’t describe me. I know because my cousin laughed, “W o w!很 __!” when I used, “马马虎虎” in actual conversation. For those who don’t know this chengyu, take it from me, this is something rather shameful. Apparently no one actually uses that saying. *facepalm*

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无语。(Wúyǔ – No comment.)

Use exactly as you would in English.

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四肢发达,头脑简单。(Sìzhī fādá, tóunaǒ jiǎndān – When the four limbs use their strength, the mind becomes simple.)

This is one of the few chengyu that I understood right off the bat. Perhaps it’s not one of the most insightful chengyu, but it’s ancient wisdom nonetheless. Easy translation: when the body works hard physically, the mind becomes simple.

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高速公路 (Gaōsù gōnglù – Highway)

It means highway, and it sounds awesome out loud. Go ahead, give it a shot.

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加州旧金山湾区 (Jiāzhōu Jiùjīnshān Wānqū – California San Francisco Bay Area)

Have you ever wondered what your specific region (the East Coast, British Colombia, etc.) was in Chinese? I hadn’t. The thought just never came to my mind. Thanks to Weibo, though, I can now proudly plaster my Bay Area pride all over in Internet – in Mandarin.

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二百五 (Èrbáiwǔ – Fool, silly person, dumbass)

There’s probably a story behind this word, but I don’t know what it is. If you know, I’d love to hear it!

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巨 (jù – A lot, a great many (Northern slang))

This Northern term is basically a step up from 很. There weren’t 很多人 (a lot of people), there were 巨多人 (ridiculously many people). Besides with 多,  I most often hear it used with 大,  as in  盘子中有一 条巨大的鱼 (In the middle of the plate was a ridiculously large fish).

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全素斋 (Quánsùzhāi – Vegetarian restaurant)

素 means vegetarian in Mandarin, and a 全素斋 is a vegetarian restaurant. The Chinese don’t use a lot of dairy products and usually don’t use butter, so many vegetarian dishes are also vegan. If you visit China, however, you should bear in mind that 全素斋s are quite expensive.

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严格(Yángé – Strict)

I know more than one Chinese teacher who could be described as 严格.

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柠檬  (Níngméng – Lemon)

Like 巧克力, 粉丝 (noodles, but also fans), and countless others, 柠檬 is a transliteration from English. Unlike some other transliterated words, however, I think this one is an improvement on the original. Say 柠檬 out loud. Is it just me, or can you actually hear the citrus zest?

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中国共产党 (Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng – The Chinese Communist Party / The Communist Party of China)

Believe it or not, I only learned this word a couple of weeks ago. Definitely a good term to know. And continuing with the political theme, we have –

资本主义(Zīběnzhǔyì – Capitalism)

and

社会主义 (Shèhuìzhǔyì – Socialism).

Note to self: write a post on political terms. Somehow, you just don’t pick those up through daily conversation.

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Last but not least:

吃货 (Chīhuò – Foodie)

Let me reveal a cultural phenomenon that will shock nobody at all: a lot of Chinese self-identify as 吃货.

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And on a different note, the Spanish word for “blender” is “licuadora”. Liquidator. Doesn’t that sound much better than a blender? Say it out loud – licuadora.

Nice to be back and posting – hope you’ve all had a nice April so far. Have a great week, everyone!

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Vocab from this week:

巧克力 (Qiaǒkēlì – Chocolate)

__ (Dīdào – Literate, well-spoken)

无语。(Wúyǔ – No comment.)

四肢发达,头脑简单。(Sìzhī fādá, tóunaǒ jiǎndān – When the four limbs use their strength, the mind becomes simple.)

高速公路 (Gaōsù gōnglù – Highway)

加州旧金山湾区 (Jiāzhōu Jiùjīnshān Wānqū – California San Francisco Bay Area)

二百五 (Èrbáiwǔ – Fool, silly person, dumb ass)

巨 (jù – A lot, a great many (Northern slang))

全素斋 (Quánsùzhāi – Vegetarian restaurant)

人不可有傲气,但不可无傲骨。(Rén bùkě yǒu aòqì, dàn bùkě wú aògǔ. – A person cannot have arrogance, but cannot be without inner steel.)

严格(Yángé – Strict)

柠檬  (Níngméng – Lemon)

中国共产党 (Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng – The Chinese Communist Party / The Communist Party of China)

资本主义(Zīběnzhǔyì – Capitalism)

社会主义 (Shèhuìzhǔyì – Socialism)

吃货 (Chīhuò – Foodie)

Grammar: Verb Tenses – The Differences Between Present Tense 在 and 着

17 Mar

Happy weekend, everyone, and of course you know why. It’s grammar day! (If WordPress allowed sound embeds, I would have put a “Hooray!” where this sentence is.)

Last week, we covered the past tense and everything related to it. I wrote a nice little introduction on that post, so you may want to check it out. This week, let’s focus on the present.

Easy, right? Just stick the non-conjugate-able verb in the sentence, and it defaults to present.

Yeah, not quite. Sorry, even the present tense isn’t the “no conjugation” paradise that Chinese verb tenses are described as. It’s true that there are no conjugations. 吃 is going to stay 吃, no matter when you ate. However, just like the past tense, expressing the present is its own art as well.

While you’re certainly allowed to just plop verbs in your sentences, the Chinese present tense actually has a few subtleties. Foremost among them, in my opinion, is a grammar distinction that doesn’t exist in English: the difference between 在 and 着.

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The Difference Between 着 (zhe) and 正在 (zhèngzài)

I’d say that there are two main forms of present tense in English: the simple present (He swims. In Chinese, 他游泳) and the currently ongoing present (he is swimming). Grammarians might disagree, but those are the two that seem actually distinct from each other.  着 and 正在 are used for the latter, the currently ongoing present.

In English, you express a currently ongoing action by using a pronoun + conjugated “to be” + the “-ing” form of the verb. I am swimming. He is getting dressed. The painting is hanging on the wall.

In Chinese, there are two ways of expressing a currently ongoing action: 着 and 正在. They are not interchangeable. Sincere apologies.

“I am swimming,” would be written as, “我正在游泳/我游泳. Wǒ zhèngzài yóuyǒng / Wǒ zài yóuyǒng.”

Likewise, “He is getting dressed,” would be, “她正在穿衣服/她穿衣服. Tā zhèngzài chūan yīfù / Tā zài chūan yīfù.”

However, “The painting is hanging on the wall,” would be, “墙上挂一幅画. Qiáng shàng guà zhe yí fù huà.”

“墙上一幅画挂,” sounds completely incorrect. Similarly, 她在穿衣服 = She is getting dressed, while 她穿着衣服 = She is dressed.

All Mandarin speakers agree that this is correct, but like native speakers everywhere, most don’t know the rules behind why. As a non-native without immersion as an option, I need rules. Need them. And so the hunt was on.

After hours of searching, hunting through obscure language forums and consulting quite a few native speakers, I finally found the answer – on Wikipedia. Yep.

In my defense, it’s not on a page about Mandarin grammar, or even on a page about Chinese. Nope. It was hidden in the convoluted grammar pages, under “Continuous and progressive aspects”.

*Exasperated forehead slap*

photo-2

I’ll spare you the work and just give you the link, here. It’s quite literally only two paragraphs, not counting the page intro explaining the difference between “continuous” and “progressive”, but it finally cleared up the issue for me.

在 (zài) and 正在 (zhèngzài) are fully interchangeable, and they’re used for actions that are happening right now. Wikipedia describes them as “dynamic”, as opposed to 着’s “static” – we’ll get to why in a second.  They come before the verb.

着 (zhe) is used for descriptions of things happening in the present. This is the “static” indicator for this currently ongoing tense. Unlike 在 and 正在,着 comes after the verb.

There’s a great quote from the Wikipedia grammar page: “If the sentence could be rephrased using “in the middle of”, then zhèngzai would be best; otherwise, zhe. “I’m [in the middle of] hanging pictures up” would take zhèngzài, while “A picture’s hanging on the wall” would take zhe.” The “in the middle of” strategy works very well whenever you’re uncertain.

The two can also occasionally appear together. Here’s an example taken from Wikipedia: “The two imperfectives may both occur in the same clause, e.g. 他正在打着电话 (Tā zhèngzai dǎ zhe diànhuà – He is in the middle of telephoning someone).” I’m sure that there are better examples; I’ll post them here when I think of them. Suggestions will be loved and cherished.

Hopefully that explanation helped a little, but I know that examples usually help me way more than grammar explanations do. So let’s have a few! Try and take a guess on how to translate the English sentences below – I’ll put the translations underneath.

He is eating rice.

I am hanging a painting on the wall.

The painting is hanging on the wall.

I am (in middle of) swimming.

The dog is lying down on the sofa.

😀 😀 😀 Stop scrolling here, answers below. 😀 😀 😀

He is eating rice. 他正在吃米饭。Tā zhèngzài chī mǐfàn.

I am hanging a painting. 我正在挂一幅画。Wǒ zhèngzài guà yífù huà.

The painting is hanging on the wall. 墙上挂着一幅画. Qiáng shàng gùa zhe yí fù hùa.

I am (in middle of) swimming.  我正在游泳。Wǒ zhèngzài yóuyǒng.

That dog is lying down on the sofa. 那只狗在沙发上躺着。Nà zhī gǒu zài shāfā shàng tǎng zhè.

How was that? If you still have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them (or research them for you) if you put them in the comments. Also, suggestions and edits would be much appreciated, especially on the translation of the last few example sentences. Are there better ways to phrase those?

In any case, have a great week and happy studying, everyone.

Learn From Lyrics: 火柴天堂 (Hǔochái Tiāntáng) – 熊天平

11 Mar

Well, I was planning to finish a present tense post for this past weekend, but after getting about halfway through I realized I didn’t actually understand it. 着 and 正在, not to mention 现在… Sigh. 😀 I’ll post that as soon as I fully get it, but for now let’s go to some vocab.

I was planning to compile an actual vocabulary list, probably of food or business lingo, but I got distracted by a 90s  song: 火柴天堂 (Hǔochái Tiāntáng – A Matchstick Heaven). Yep, change of plans – my vocab is coming from 90s music this week.

picture of match - 火柴天堂

Image thanks to Sebastian Ritter (Rise0011) from the Wikimedia Commons.

A one-sentence summary for those new to 90s China pop: I’m sure there are some happy songs out there – I just haven’t found them yet. And I’ve been improving my literacy with them for quite a while now.

(Though it is true that I’ve been searching for slow songs with clear, audible lyrics. The 90s are to learning Mandarin what Robert Frost could be to learning English. Let’s not even talk about today’s pop music.)

This particular song caught my attention while I was hunting for the lyrics to 烟花易冷, another heartbreaking song that will probably appear in a post down the road. The lyrics are very good and it was beautifully sung – the video I was watching was of Chyi Chin, a Taiwanese singer – but what really boggled my mind was the music.

Spanish influence. With guitar and chord progressions and whatever you call that distinctive up-and-down melody. I’m not sure if that made sense, but it will when you watch the video, here.

And yes, this is a very big deal. I’m still not completely sure why, but it most definitely is. That’s why 火柴天堂 has been awarded the (possibly dubious) honor of being the first Mandarin song I translate. A lot is lost in translation, so definitely only take the English as a guide.

😀 :).  Just to smile. 🙂 :D.  Yeah, I’m pretty proud of myself. 😀

You’ll probably get more out of this by going through the lyrics without the tune in your head, especially the pīnyīn ones. Memorizing lyrics are a great way to improve vocab, but the one drawback is that you can’t hear the tones.

I recommend that you first skim through this Mandarin-only version. You may want to copy-paste onto a Word Doc, as the font is a bit small. I wrote this post with semi-natives or intermediates in mind, so this could be challenging if you’re just starting out. No worries, there’s a line-by-line translated version a bit later.

Best of luck, and have fun with it!

(The underlined words are in a glossary at the end of this post, but just skim this version to begin with.)

火柴天堂

词:熊天平
曲:熊天平

歌词:

走在寒冷下雪的夜空
卖着火柴温饱我的梦
一步步冰冻 一步步寂寞
人情寒冷冰冻我的手

一包火柴燃烧我的心
寒冷夜里挡不住前行
我的脸 雪我的口
着脚步还能走多久

有谁来买我的火柴
有谁一根根希望全部点燃
有谁来买我的孤单
有谁来实现我想家的呼唤

每次 点燃火柴 微微光芒
看到希望 看到梦想
看见天上的妈妈说话

她说 你要勇敢 你要坚强
不要害怕 不要慌张
让你从此不必再流浪

每次 点燃火柴 微微光芒
看到希望 看到梦想
看见天上的妈妈说话

她说 你要勇敢 你要坚强
不要害怕 不要慌张
让你从此不必再流浪

妈妈着你的手回家
睡在温暖花开的 天堂  (Repeat again from the beginning.)

And below is the translated version. Reading the pīnyīn out loud is highly recommended. If you need a review, open this post.

Just a note: the translation is mine, with the help of a native speaker. Not exactly elegant, but hopefully they’ll convey the basic meaning.

I tried to maintain a balance between translating literally (after all, we are learning vocab) and ensuring that the intended meaning is clear. Suggestions and edits would be very much appreciated!

火柴天堂
– Hǔochái Tīantáng
– A Matchstick Heaven

词:熊天平
Cí : Xióng Tiānpíng
Lyrics: Xiong Tiānping

曲:熊天平
Qǔ : Xióng Tīanpíng
Music: Xiong Tianping

歌词:
Gēcí:
Lyrics:

走在寒冷下雪的夜空
– Zǒuzài hánlěng xiàxǔe de yèkōng
– Walking in the frigid, snowing night

卖着火柴温饱我的梦
– Mài zhe hǔochái wēnbǎo wǒ de mèng
– Selling matches, hugging my dreams close [Note: I think there’s a play on words here. See 温饱 in the glossary.]

一步步冰冻 一步步寂寞
– Yībùbu bīngdòng, yībùbu jìmò [Note: 一步步, when spoken, actually seems to be pronounced bùbu.]
– Every step freezing, every step lonely [Or, “Every step so cold, every step alone”? Up to you.]

人情寒冷冰冻我的手
– Rénqíng hánlěng bīngdòng wǒ de shǒu
– The chill of human feeling [or “sentiment”?] freezes my hands

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一包火柴燃烧我的心
– Yì bāo hǔochái ránshāo wǒ de xīn
– A single box of matches warms [“blazes in”?] my heart

寒冷夜里挡不住前行
– Hánlěng yè lǐ dǎngbùzhù qiánxíng
– The frigid night cannot stop my progress forward

风刺我的脸 雪割我的口
– Fēng cì wǒ de liǎn, xǔe gē wǒ de kǒu
– The wind needles my face, the snow slashes my lips

拖着脚步还能走多久
– Tuō zhe jiǎobù hái néng zǔo dūo jǐu
– I’m dragging my feet – how much longer can I walk?

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有谁来买我的火柴
– Yǒu shéi lái mǎi wǒ de hǔochái
– Who will come to buy my matches?

有谁将一根根希望全部点燃
– Yǒu shéi jiāng yìgēngen xīwàng quánbù diǎnrán
– Who will light every stick of hope ablaze? [Thanks to wodezitie for the edit.]

有谁来买我的孤单
– Yǒu shéi lái mǎi wǒ de gūdān
– Who will come to buy my loneliness?

有谁来实现我想家的呼唤
– Yǒu shéi lái xiànshí wǒ xiǎng jiā de hūhuán
– Who will come and fulfill my homesick cry?

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每次 点燃火柴 微微光芒
– Měicì diǎnrán hǔochái, wēiwēi gūangmáng
– Every time I light a match, dim light scattering,

看到希望 看到梦想
– Kàn dào xīwàng, kàn dào mèngxiǎng
– I can see my hope, I can see my dreams

看见天上的妈妈说话
– Kàn jiàn tiān shàng de māma shūo hùa
– I see, in the heavens, my mother speak

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她说 你要勇敢 你要坚强
– Tā shuō, nǐ yào yónggǎn, nǐ yào jiānqíang
– She says, you must be brave, you must be strong

不要害怕 不要慌张
– Bù yào hàipà, bù yào huāngzhāng
– Don’t be frightened, don’t be rattled [“Flustered” would be more literal, but it sounds weird.]

让你从此不必再流浪
– Ràng nǐ cóngcì bù bì zài liú làng
– You’ll be able, from now on, to need never again wander

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每次 点燃火柴 微微光芒
– Měicì diǎnrán hǔochái, wēiwēi gūangmáng
– Every time I light a match, dim light scattering,

看到希望 看到梦想
– Kàn dào xīwàng, kàn dào mèngxiǎng
– I can see my hope, I can see my dreams

看见天上的妈妈说话
– Kàn jiàn tiān shàng de māma shūo hùa
– I see, in the heavens, my mother speak

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她说 你要勇敢 你要坚强
– Tā shuō, nǐ yào yónggǎn, nǐ yào jiānqíang
– She says, you must be brave, you must be strong

不要害怕 不要慌张
– Bù yào hàipà, bù yào huāngzhāng
– Don’t be frightened, don’t be rattled

让你从此不必再流浪
– Ràng nǐ cóngcì bù bì zài liú làng
– You’ll be able, from now on, to need never again wander

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妈妈牵着你的手回家
– Māma qiān zhe nǐ de shǒu húi jiā.
– Mother will take your hand and lead you home

睡在温暖花开的 天堂
– Shuì zài wēnnuǎn hūa kāi de tiāntáng
– Sleep in the warm, open petals of heaven (再来一遍!Zài lái yībiàn! One more time!) ->^

Finished! Congratulations. Here the Chyi Chin video again, and here’s another one with the actual songwriter singing. The second also has traditional character subtitles, if you’re interested in those.

What I’ve been doing is printing out the lyrics and reviewing unfamiliar phrases, then writing through the entire song once or twice in the week. I try to choose songs that have lyrics resembling common speech, and I’ve found that writing 90s lyrics has quickly built a nice base for my literacy. Give it a shot if you have time.

This was fun for me, and I think I’ll be posting more of these when the mood strikes me. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for future posts.

Wait! Don’t suggest that favorite Mandarin song yet. I have a few conditions.

1.) All of the lyrics should be clearly audible in the song, so please avoid songs that are extremely fast.

2.) No random English, Korean, or Japanese lines. And especially no English rap verses. That’s non-negotiable.

3.) No theme songs from TV shows, historical dramas, war dramas, office dramas, or actually any kind of drama.

4.) Please do not suggest anything like this video, sent to me yesterday. No offense to any fans of “Super Junior M” – I just personally don’t feel their music. Or their dance videos. Or anything that’s similar. At all.

😀

Have a great week, everyone. Happy studying!

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Vocab from this week:

(Feel free to post in the comments if you want any other terms defined.)

寒冷 (hánlěng) – Frigid, bitterly cold. Think chihuahua in the frozen tundra.

温饱 (wēnbăo) – Basic necessities: warmth and sufficient food. However, it also sounds a bit like 抱 (bào), which mean “to hug”. With the context in mind (and because it flows better), I wrote “hug” in  the translation.

冰冻 (bīngdòng) – Freeze to ice, or as cold as ice.

寂寞 (jìmò) – Loneliness

人情 (rénqíng) – Human feeling, or emotion. As in essential spirit-ness.

燃烧 (ránshāo) – Blaze, scorch, burn

刺 (cì) – Needle (v.), or jab. Could also mean thorn.

割 (gē) – Slash, cut. Invokes some kind of knife.

拖 (tuō) – Drag (v.). This translates almost perfectly.

将 (jiāng) – Has many definitions. The one in use here means to put, or to make.

点燃 (diǎnrán) – Light, or ignite.

实现 (shíxiàn) – Fulfill, or realize (as in a dream).

呼唤 (hūhúan) – Call, shout, yell, cry. That kind of loud voice action, you know. 🙂

勇敢 (yónggǎn) – Courage.

坚强 (jiānqiáng) – Endure with strength.

害怕 (hàipà) – Be afraid.

慌张 (huāngzhāng) – Panic, to be rattled.

从此 (cóngcǐ) – From here on out (American English!), or from now on.

流浪 (liǔlàng) – To wander. Think gypsies rather than being lost.

牵 (qiāng) – A combo of take, hold, and sometimes lead. Usually involves hands.

温暖 (wēnnuǎn) – Warm and cozy.