Learning Mandarin.

I’ve discovered google translate. Struggles a bit tho interesting. Translating and memorising Zhou Xuan singing ‘Song of Four Seasons‘ (Si4 Ji4 Ge1) is an enjoyable exercise.

Firstly here is a comic clip of Zhou Xuan fooling around with her boyfriend Zhao Dan. So very lovely and beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxu8Kxuf-Sg

From the same film ‘Malu Tianshi’ Street Angel here is actual footage of ‘Song of Four Seasons’ Si Ji Ge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIEUeMiJBhY

Here is the first half of the complete film ‘Street Angel’ :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVtaJW5es9Q

And here is the second half of the complete film ‘Street Angel’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NO9xN4-pSY

Firstly from www.californiadream.com the traditional characters in a very readable and commendable font, if only all websites were this legible and precise:

春季到來綠滿窗,大姑娘窗下繡鴛鴦,忽然。一陣無情捧,打得鴛鴦各一方。 夏季到來柳絲長,大姑娘飄泊到長江,江南江北風光好,怎及青紗起高樑。 秋季到來荷花香,大姑娘夜夜夢家 ,醒來不見爹娘面,只見床前明月光。 冬季到來雪茫茫,寒衣做好送情郎,血肉築出長城長,儂願做當年小孟姜。 

From google the simplified characters:

春季到来绿满窗,大姑娘窗下绣鸳鸯,忽然一阵无情捧,打得鸳鸯各一方。夏季到来柳丝长,大姑娘飘泊到长江,江南江北风光好,怎及青纱起高梁。秋季到来荷花香,大姑娘夜夜梦家,醒来不见爹娘面,只见床前明月光。冬季到来雪茫茫,寒衣做好送情郎,血肉筑出长城长,侬愿做当年小孟姜
Obvious changes are lai2, zhen4, wu2, si1, chang2, etc.
The unsure bit is the google translation to English:
Spring Green Man arrival window Daguniang window embroidered Yuanyang, offering all of a sudden a while mercilessly and hit the side of Yuanyang. Liusi summer long Daguniang Wandering to the Yangtze River, Jiangbei Jiangnan scenery, and how and Jingsha from sorghum. Lotus arrival of autumn, Daguniang nightly dream home, not to wake up Dieniang surface, we saw Moonlight before. Winter snow vast, Hanyi to send Qinglang, flesh and blood to build a long Great Wall, Lennon is willing to do that Xiao Meng Jiang.
Quite a bit ‘off’ – tho commendable.
Next is to get the pinyin, I’ve found: http://www.pingasianimports.com/website1c/Default.aspx
Useful to generate some pinyin directly from characters, complete with choices in phonetics and meaning from certain multi-function characters. Very useful all the same and with a set of excellent crib sheets/elaborate flashcards to print of twenty separate sets of characters grouped in one hundreds according to frequency of usage.  Thankyou www.pingasian.com So here it is:
chun1 ji4 dao4 lai2 [lu4;lu:4] man3 chuang1 , [da4;dai4] gu1 niang2 chuang1 xia4 xiu4 yuan1 yang1 , hu1 ran2 yi1 zhen4 [mo2;wu2] qing2 peng3 , [da2;da3] [de2;de;dei3] yuan1 yang1 [ge3;ge4] yi1 fang1 。 xia4 ji4 dao4 lai2 liu3 si1 [chang2;zhang3] , [da4;dai4] gu1 niang2 piao1 [bo2;po1] dao4 [chang2;zhang3] jiang1 , jiang1 [na1;nan2] jiang1 bei3 feng1 guang1 [hao3;hao4] , zen3 ji2 qing1 sha1 qi3 gao1 liang2 。 qiu1 ji4 dao4 lai2 [he2;he4] hua1 xiang1 , [da4;dai4] gu1 niang2 ye4 ye4 meng4 [jia1;jia;jie] , xing3 lai2 [bu2;bu4] [jian4;xian4] die1 niang2 mian4 , [zhi1;zhi3] [jian4;xian4] chuang2 qian2 ming2 yue4 guang1 。 dong1 ji4 dao4 lai2 xue3 mang2 mang2 , han2 [yi1;yi3;yi4] zuo4 [hao3;hao4] song4 qing2 [lang2;lang4] , [xie3;xue4] rou4 [zhu2;zhu4] chu1 [chang2;zhang3] cheng2 [chang2;zhang3] , nong2 yuan4 zuo4 [dang1;dang4] nian2 xiao3 meng4 jiang1 。
I’m rather pleased with myself, however all this technology encourages laziness, dispersing the effort and concentration of manual word by word ‘forging’ of the translation. The ‘learning’ will not be taking place as it should. Hint, make little flashcards from paper and keep written notes around the house. I have them around while I’m getting washed on a morning and last couple of hours before bed. Develop a ‘feel’ for a correctly written character. Pen or pecil is okay, you don’t need a brush, tho a font that imitates brushwork is very useful as it displays stroke order and direction.
As a postscript here is another free online translation service that I think is a nearer translation and is my preferred: http://www1.worldlingo.com/en/products_services/worldlingo_translator.html
The resulting machine translation is:
Spring arrives the green full window, under the girl of marrying age window embroiders the mandarin duck, heartlessly holds suddenly, hits mandarin duck each side.Summer arrives Liu Sichang, the girl of marrying age drifts about Yangtze River, the Chiangnan north of the Changjiang River scenery is good, how and does the blue gauze get up the sorghum.The autumn arrives the Dutch flower fragrance, the girl of marrying age every night the dream, wakes does not see the parents surface, sees only in front of the bed the bright moonlight light.Winter arrival snow boundless, the winter cloth completes delivers the boyfriend, the flesh and blood builds the Great Wall to be long, I was willing to make the same year young Meng ginger.
Very good apart from the last few words.
Here is an excellent page for a ‘Street Angel’ script and lyrics to ‘Si Ji Ge’ and below is their more correct translation. http://mclc.osu.edu/rc/pubs/angel/default.htm
I’d forgotten I’d kept that in favourites a year ago.

Spring comes, and the window fills with green
A maiden sits by the window embroidering a pair of mandarin ducks
Suddenly, a heartless blow
Splits the ducks in two

Summer comes and the willow fronds grow long
The maiden has been blown south of the river
The scenery’s lovely all over the land
But how can it compare to the green gauzy sorghum at home?

Autumn comes and the lotus flowers are sweet
The maiden dreams of home night after night
When she wakes up she doesn’t see the faces of her mom and dad
Just the moonlight shining at the foot of the bed

Winter comes and snow flurries down
When winter clothes are ready I’ll send them to my man
The great wall built of blood and flesh is long
Would that I could be the ancient Meng Jiang

We are getting closer to a better translation of a most beautiful song. 

Finding the most appropriate website to learn mandarin is not easy. Each one has a ‘slant’ the others don’t have, tho so many are usually deficient in at least one point. Frustrating. Try http://chinese.rutgers.edu/index_e.htm

tho you’ll have to memorise half a dozen pairs of characters to know, pinyin, dictionary. Unfortunately the dialogue is spoken fast. If only www.cslpod.com with its excellent slow repeated dialogue could be coupled with the fuller and clearer text and dictionary of rutgers.

I’ll post on this when I’ve more time and in a new post as this is getting unwieldy……..

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