Just a couple of elves to help me?
I like Christmas time, but there can be complications. It can take some tricky scheduling to get all the fun things done AND attend to daily responsibilities! Or it can be a festive excuse to put aside some of the mundane parts of life and be more playful than you might normally be. Either way, gifts are usually involved.
It would help if we did actually have elves to help, but then we’d probably want them all year long for other tasks, too… However, maybe we wouldn’t have as much fun, because gifts are about relationships and relationships are not something someone else can do for us. Here’s some vocabulary to help practice Chinese while we celebrate Christmas. Then, we will discuss some complications of Christmas shopping.
聖誕節 ㄕㄥˋ ㄉㄢˋ ㄐㄧㄝˊ (shèng dàn jié) Christmas holiday, Christmas time
逛街 ㄍㄨㄤˋ ㄐㄧㄝ (guàng jiē) to window shop, to stroll down the street
送人 ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄖㄣˊ (sòng rén) to give away, to see somebody off
禮物 ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ (lǐ wù) gift, present
選擇 ㄒㄩㄢˇ ㄗㄜˊ (xuǎn zé) to select, to pick, choice
到底 ㄉㄠˋ ㄉㄧˇ (dào dǐ) finally, in the end, after all
理想 ㄌㄧˇ ㄒㄧㄤˇ (lǐ xiǎng) an ideal, perfect
通常 ㄊㄨㄥ ㄔㄤˊ (tōng cháng) usually, normally
促銷 ㄘㄨˋ ㄒㄧㄠ (cù xiāo) to promote sales
活動 ㄏㄨㄛˊ ㄉㄨㄥˋ (huó dòng) to move about, to exercise
打折扣 ㄉㄚˇ ㄓㄜˊ ㄎㄡˋ (dǎ zhé kòu) to give a discount
興奮 ㄒㄧㄥ ㄈㄣˋ (xīng fèn) excited
漏掉 ㄌㄡˋ ㄉㄧㄠˋ (lòu diào) to miss, to leave out
包裝 ㄅㄠ ㄓㄨㄤ (bāo zhuāng) to package, to wrap
小精靈 ㄒㄧㄠˇ ㄐㄧㄥ ㄌㄧㄥˊ (xiǎo jīng líng) elf
好幫手 ㄏㄠˇ ㄅㄤ ㄕㄡˇ (hǎo bāng shǒu) helping hands
有意義 ㄧㄡˇ ㄧˋ ㄧˋ (yǒu yì yì) to have meaning, meaningful
甚至 ㄕㄣˋ ㄓˋ (shèn zhì) even, so much that
童書 ㄊㄨㄥˊ ㄕㄨ (tóng shū) children’s book
發行 ㄈㄚ ㄒㄧㄥˊ (fā xíng) to publish, to release
到時候 ㄉㄠˋ ㄕˊ ㄏㄡˋ (dào shí hòu) when that time comes, at that time
購買 ㄍㄡˋ ㄇㄞˇ (gòu mǎi) to purchase, to buy
Can you relate to this discussion of Christmas shopping?
(ㄕㄥˋ ㄉㄢˋ ㄐㄧㄝˊ)(ㄎㄨㄞˋ)(ㄉㄠˋ)(ㄌㄜ˙)
(shèng dàn jié)(kuài)(dào)(le.)
Christmas is coming soon!
(ㄧㄠˋ)(ㄑㄩˋ)(ㄍㄨㄤˋ ㄐㄧㄝ)(ㄇㄞˇ)(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄉㄨㄛ)(ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄜㄣˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)
(yào)(qù)(guàng jiē)(mǎi)(hěn)(duō)(sòng rén)(de.)(lǐ wù)
(to want)(to go)(to window shop)(to buy)(very)(many)(to give away to someone)(adjective marker)(gift)
(We)❸ want to shop to buy many, many Christmas gifts to give to people.
(ㄧㄡˇ ㄕˊ ㄏㄡˋ)(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄋㄢˊ)(ㄒㄩㄢˇ ㄗㄜˊ)(ㄉㄠˋ ㄉㄧˇ)(ㄧㄠˋ)(ㄇㄞˇ)
(yǒu shí hòu)(hěn)(nán)(xuǎn zé)(dào dǐ)(yào)(mǎi)
(sometimes)(very)(difficult)(to pick, to select)(finally)(to want)(to buy)
……(ㄕㄣˊ ㄇㄜ˙)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)(ㄅㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄠˋ)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄒㄧㄤˇ)
……(shén me.)(lǐ wù)(bǐ jiào)(lǐ xiǎng)
……(what)(gift)(comparatively, more)(ideal, perfect)
Sometimes it is difficult to select the ideal gift.
(ㄊㄨㄥ ㄔㄤˊ)(ㄌㄞˋ)(ㄓㄜˋ)(ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄐㄧˋ ㄐㄧㄝˊ)
(tōng cháng)(zài)(zhè)(ge.)(jì jié)
……(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄉㄨㄛ)(ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄐㄧㄚ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄘㄨˋ ㄒㄧㄠ)(ㄏㄨㄛˊ ㄉㄨㄥˋ)
……(hěn)(duō)(diàn jiā)(yǒu)(cù xiāo)(huó dòng)
……(very)(many)(shop)(to have)(to promote sales)(to move about)
Usually this time of year many stores have promotional activities.
(ㄖㄨˊ ㄍㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄥ)(ㄒㄧㄤˇ ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄉㄨㄥ ㄒㄧ)
(ru guǒ)(yǒu)(zì jǐ)(yǐ jīng)(xiǎng hǎo)(de.)(dōng xī)
(if)(to have)(oneself)(already)(to finish thinking)(adjective marker)(things)
……(ㄓㄥˋ ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄘㄨˋ ㄒㄧㄠ)(ㄉㄚˇ ㄓㄜˊ ㄎㄡˋ)
……(zhèng zài)(cù xiāo)(dǎ zhé kòu)
……(just at that time)(to promote sales)(to give a discount)
If you find things you had already thought to buy on sale right then,
(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄏㄨㄟˋ)(ㄐㄩㄝˊ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄒㄧㄥ ㄈㄣˋ)
(jiù)(huì)(jué de.)(hěn)(xīng fèn)
you will feel very excited!
(ㄧㄡˇ ㄕˊ ㄏㄡˋ)(ㄧㄝˇ)(ㄏㄨㄟˋ)(ㄉㄢ ㄒㄧㄣ)(ㄌㄡˋ ㄉㄧㄠˋ)(ㄇㄞˇ)(ㄧ)(ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)
(yǒu shí hòu)(yě)(huì)(dān xīn)(lòu diào)(mǎi)(yī)(ge.)(rén)(de.)(lǐ wù)
(sometimes)(also)(will)(to worry)(to miss, to leave out)(to buy)(one)(MW)(person)(adjective marker)(gift)
Sometimes (we) also will worry about leaving out buying one person’s gift.
(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄅㄨˋ)(ㄒㄧˇ ㄏㄨㄢ)(ㄗㄨㄛˋ)(ㄅㄠ ㄓㄨㄤ)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)(ㄓㄜˋ ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄕˋ ㄑㄧㄥˊ)
(wǒ)(bù)(xǐ huān)(zuò)(bāo zhuāng)(lǐ wù)(zhè ge.)(shì qíng)
(I)(not)(to like)(to do)(to wrap)(gift)(this)(affair, matter, thing)
I particularly do not like to wrap presents.
(ㄓˊ ㄉㄠˋ)(ㄐㄧㄣ ㄋㄧㄢˊ)(ㄉㄡ)(ㄕˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄈㄧㄚ)(ㄌㄠˇ ㄙˋ)(ㄅㄤ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄅㄠ ㄓㄨㄤ)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)
(zhí dào)(jīn nián)(dōu)(shì)(wǒ men.)(jiā)(lǎo sì)(bāng)(wǒ)(bāo zhuāng)(lǐ wù)
(until)(this year)(all)(is, to be)(our)(family)(4th child)❼(to help)(me)(to wrap)(gift)
Up until this year, our 4th child has always helped me wrap presents.
(ㄊㄚ)(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄒㄧㄤˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ ㄉㄜ˙) [(ㄒㄧㄠˇ ㄐㄧㄥ ㄌㄧㄥˊ)] (ㄏㄢˋ) [(ㄏㄠˇ ㄅㄤ ㄕㄡˇ)]
(tā)(jiù)(xiàng)(wǒ de.) [(xiǎo jīng líng)] (hàn) [(hǎo bāng shǒu)]
(she)(emphasis)(to be like, to resemble)(my) “(elf)” (and) “(helping hands)”
She is like my “little elf” and “helping hands.”
(ㄑㄧˊ ㄕˊ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄒㄧㄤˇ ㄕㄡˋ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄗㄨㄛˋ)(ㄧˋ ㄒㄧㄝ)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)
(qí shí)(wǒ)(xiǎng shòu)(zì jǐ)(zuò)(yì xiē)(lǐ wù)
(in fact)(I)(to enjoy)(oneself)(to make)(some)(gift, present)
In fact, I do enjoy making some gifts myself.
(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄐㄩㄝˊ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄓㄜˋ ㄒㄧㄝ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄗㄨㄛˋ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄌㄧˇ ㄨˋ)(ㄅㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄠˋ)[(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄧˋ ㄧˋ)]
(wǒ)(jué de.)(zhè xiē)(zì jǐ)(zuò)(de.)(lǐ wù)(bǐ jiào)[(yǒu)(yì yì)]
(I)(to feel)(these)(oneself)(to make)(adjective marker)(gift)(comparatively)[(to have)(meaning, significance)]
I feel these homemade gifts are more meaningful.
(ㄐㄧㄣ ㄋㄧㄢˊ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄕㄣˋ ㄓˋ)(ㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄥ)(ㄒㄧㄝˇ ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄌㄜ˙)
(jīn nián)(wǒ)(shèn zhì)(yǐ jīng)(xiě hǎo)(le.)
(this year)(I)(even)(already)(to finish to write)(emphasize completion)
……(ㄧˋ)(ㄅㄣˇ)(ㄊㄨㄥˊ ㄕㄨ)(ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄍㄟˇ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄙㄨㄣ ㄗ˙ ㄇㄣ˙)
……(yì)(běn)(tóng shū)(sòng gěi)(wǒ)(de.)(sūn zi. men.)
……(one)(MW)(children’s book)(to give as a present)(my)➓(adjective marker)(grandchildren)
This year I have written a children’s book to give as a gift to my grandchildren.
(next year)(early)(I)(will)(particle to indicated next word is direct object)(it)
……(ㄈㄢ ㄧˋ)(ㄔㄥˊ)(ㄓㄨㄥ ㄨㄣˊ)(ㄅㄧㄥˋ ㄑㄧㄝˇ)(ㄈㄚ ㄒㄧㄥˊ)(ㄊㄚ)
……(fān yì)(chéng)(zhōng wén)(bìng qiě)(fā xíng)(tā)
……(to translate)(to finish)(Chinese language)(and, besides, moreover)(to publish)(it)
Early next year I will finish translating it into Chinese and publish it.
(ㄉㄠˋ ㄕˊ ㄏㄡˋ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄒㄧㄥˋ ㄑㄩˋ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄧㄚˋ ㄇㄚˇ ㄒㄩㄣˋ)(ㄕㄤˋ)(ㄍㄡˋ ㄇㄞˇ)
(dào shí hòu)(yǒu)(xìng qù)(kě yǐ)(zài)(yà mǎ xùn)(shàng)(gòu mǎi)
(at that time)(to have)(interest, desire)(can)(at)(Amazon)(on)(to purchase)
At that time, if you have interest you can buy it on Amazon.
I have to clarify some things about the last couple of sentences. First, I’m not sure just how “early” in the year I will get the book done. One book is like many blog posts, so quite a lot of work.
Secondly, the translating of my original English story is done by my tutor, then I work on diagramming it out to make it clear why it is done that way.
Thirdly, Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing company had recently made some extensive changes and I don’t know if they will be able to publish the Chinese characters. If they can’t, a printable download of the book will at least be available for sale on this website. But since ordering on Amazon is so typical for ordering gifts this time of year, it seemed just as well to keep the sentence the way it is!
❶ Here is the literal breakdown of these characters:
聖 holy, sacred
節 has about 7 possible meanings, including knot, passage, integrity, holiday, and to constrain
❷ Although in the USA, window shopping has connotations of lots of browsing at window displays with little or no buying, the meaning here is that there is not necessarily a specific list, but the shopping is to look for ideas for gifts.
❸ The tone of the sentences at this point is one of making broad, cultural statements. It could also probably be translated something like “there is a lot of Christmas gift shopping going on.”
❹ You may have noticed that the two characters on either side of the ❹ look VERY similar. There is a difference, though. One of them has a slight curve up on the left middle, hinting at a partial 4th side to the upper square, whereas the other one only has 3 sides to the box, and no more. Can you see it? 己 ㄐㄧˇ 已 ㄧˇ They definitely sound different and mean different things, too.
❺ Although we often say “we forget” in a case like this, this sentence was structured to emphasize that we didn’t forget the person, but rather might miss doing something that is important to us.
❻ The grammar of this sentence is not that straightforward to me as an English speaker. My tutor explains that adding the 這個事情 after saying what I don’t like to do means that I “particularly don’t like to do this thing.”
❼ As I talked about in When You Want to Do Something First 當你要先做某件事情的時候 in Chinese, this is a very common way of referring to children/siblings in a family. It is important to specify that you are talking about someone in your family, hence the 家 preceding it. It sounds a bit odd to translate it into English, but another translation would imply it was translated from different Chinese words.
❽ This is just the Chinese way of making the point that it is already written.
❾ Just like in English we might say children or kids, in Chinese they might use 童 ㄊㄨㄥˊ (tóng) or 孩 ㄏㄞˊ (hái)when referring to children.
➓ It is the use of the adjective marker that makes this translate as my, but it wouldn’t make sense to translate it as (I)(adjective marker).