Fable: 天堂里的自由 – Freedom in Heaven

A little thrush (画眉 huà méi) trades one cage (笼子 lóng zi) for a bigger one, and doesn’t much like the upgrade. Suitable around HSK 3.

You could take a lot of lessons away from this story. Maybe it’s trying to tell us that money is immaterial without friends and loved ones around us. Or maybe that God is fallible. Or that the grass is always greener. You read it, you decide.

Some language stuff

说道 shuō dào – Usually, when we first start reading dialogues, we learn that “说” means “said”, as in “He said,” (他说). There are actually a few different ways to say “said” in Chinese, three off the top of my head. 说 is the “beginner” way. At the intermediate level, this can become 说道 shuō dào, or simply 道. In ancient Chinese, they often use 曰 yuē, which looks like 日 rì, but if you look closely you’ll see it’s a little wider, and the line crossing it in the middle doesn’t quite touch the right side of the character. In this piece, we’ve got 说道 and a 问道 – don’t let that “道” confuse you, it just means “to say”.

翡翠 fěi cuì – My translation software has this as “jadeite”, but this can be both jade or emerald, and since I usually see “jade” translated as 玉 yù, I’m going with “emerald” here.

大得我飞都飞不到边 dà de wǒ fēi dōu fēi bu dào biān – We’ve also got one slightly rough sentence construction here. This clause is being used by the thrush to describe a house, let’s break it down:

大 – Big
得 – To the extent that / to the point that
我 – I
飞 – fly
都 – but even
飞 – fly
不到 – can’t arrive at / can’t reach
边 – the edge.

In other words, the house is so big that even if the bird starts flying at one side of the house, he can fly and fly but still won’t reach the other side.

Finally, the last clause is a bit long, so here’s a trick for figuring it out: find the 跟 gēn, which in this case means 比 bǐ, a comparative word. Everything before 跟 is being compared to what’s after it.

Source here

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Show English translation »
A cute little thrush was shut in a cage by its master, so God said to the thrush: “Come and live with me in Heaven.”

“My life is very good now, why should I go to heaven?” the thrush said.

God answered, “Well, do you have freedom?”

The thrush was silent.

The thrush followed God to Heaven, and God arranged for it to settle down in an emerald palace, and then he went to deal with other matters.

After a long time had passed, God suddenly thought of the thrush, and so he went to the emerald palace to see it. He asked the thrush: “My dear child, are things going well now?”

The thrush uttered a sorrowful sigh, and said: “The house is beautiful, so big that [no matter how long] I fly I can’t reach its edges, but how is living by myself alone in this big house any different than living in a cage?”

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