Children’s Story: 有学问的儿子 – The Learned Son

In this short story, a garden rake (草耙 – cǎo pá) teaches one stuck-up kid a lesson in humility. HSK 3-4.

Some language stuff

父亲这儿 fù qin zhè er – 父亲, as we know, means “father”, and “这儿” usually means “here”. But this phrase does not mean “father is here”. In this case, 这儿 is colloquial Chinese meaning “place”. So, 父亲这儿 means “father’s place” – most often, “place” refers to someone’s house, but it can also mean “hometown”, or simply “where someone is”.

给我当个帮手 gěi wǒ dāng ge bāng shǒu – You can probably figure this one out for yourself if you break down the meaning of each character:

给 – Give
我 – me
当 – be / act as
个 – a
帮手 – helping hand

The difficulty here lies in the fact that both 给 and 当 are used simultaneously, since in English, we’d only either say “give me a helping hand”, or “be my helping hand”, not “give me be a helping hand”. But we can probably parse this a little better if we understand the definition of 给 not as “give”, but as “for”. In that case, the sentence becomes “be a helping hand for me”. And that makes more sense.

干活 gàn huó – Beginners usually first see the character 活 in the word 生活, “life”. But 活 in this case means “labor”. So 干活 is “to do labor”, usually labor done with the hands. It’s also sometimes used derogatorily to describe mindless busywork, as in “This isn’t a career, it’s just 干活.”

Finally, we’ve got two idioms at the very end. Those are:

恃才傲物 shì cái ào wù – To be conceited and contemptuous.

夜郎自大 yè láng zì dà – I’ve actually got a whole post on this idiom here, if you’d like to dig deeper, but in essence, it means “to think too highly of oneself”.

Want something easier?

Du Chinese has a big catalog of easy HSK 1 and HSK 2 texts for ultra-beginners. There are quite a few free practice lessons, but CRP readers get 10% off on paid accounts using the discount code CRP10.








Show English translation »
A college student came back from the city to [his] village, returning to his father’s place.

His father said, “Today we’re going to cut the grass, go get the rake, and be my helping hand.”

But his son wasn’t willing to do the work, and he said, “I studied science, and I’ve forgotten all [the particulars of] village work. What kind of thing is a rake?”

[The son] had just walked into the yard, when he trod upon the rake with his foot, and the rake’s handle suddenly [sprung up and] hit him in the head. That’s when he finally remembered was a rake was.

People must not forget their roots, and moreover [they] shouldn’t be full of themselves just because they’ve learned a few things.

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