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Contents

Background ............................................................................................................................................. 3 Basic Sentence Parts ............................................................................................................................... 4 Singular & Plural...................................................................................................................................... 5 Possession ............................................................................................................................................... 6 Positive, Negative & Question ................................................................................................................ 7 Numbers.................................................................................................................................................. 8 Days ....................................................................................................................................................... 11 Schools .................................................................................................................................................. 14 Counters ................................................................................................................................................ 15 Songs ..................................................................................................................................................... 16 Happy Birthday Song......................................................................................................................... 16 Two Tigers ......................................................................................................................................... 16 Sister carries doll ............................................................................................................................... 17 Poems.................................................................................................................................................... 18 Quatrain of Seven Steps By Cao Zhi .................................................................................................. 18 Thoughts in the Silent Night ............................................................................................................. 19 On The Stork Tower .......................................................................................................................... 20 My retreat at Mount Zhongnan ........................................................................................................ 21 Idioms.................................................................................................................................................... 22 Cry crocodile tears ............................................................................................................................ 22 Cast pearls before swine ................................................................................................................... 23 Gild the lily ........................................................................................................................................ 25 Stories ................................................................................................................................................... 27 The boy and the nails ........................................................................................................................ 27 Whose gift is it?................................................................................................................................. 29 The taxi driver and the man in a hurry ............................................................................................. 31 Chinese Ancient Myths & Legends ....................................................................................................... 33 Chinese New Year Nian.................................................................................................................. 33 The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac........................................................................................ 35 The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl ................................................................................................... 36 Chinese Ancient Stories ........................................................................................................................ 39

Background
Evolution of Chinese Characters

Written

Simplified Chinese (used by China, Singapore, Malaysia)

Traditional Chinese (used by Hongkong, Taiwan)

Spoken (Dialects) Cantonese => Hongkong, Malaysia (mainly KL) Hokkien => Taiwan, Malaysia (mainly Penang), Singapore Hainan Hakka

Basic Sentence Parts


Noun: things Adjective: describes nouns Verbs: action words Adverb: describes verbs Subject: The main topic (ex: teacher, table, pen) (ex: pretty, clever, tall) (ex: run, want, have) (ex: quickly, outside, often, today) (ex: I eat rice) (ex: I eat rice)

Object: The item that is acted upon by the subject 1) a) English: Chinese: b) English: Chinese: 2) English: Chinese: 3) English: Chinese: 4) English: Chinese: 1) English: Chinese: 2) English: Chinese:

Subject + Verb + Object Subjec t + Verb + Object Subject + Verb Subjec t + Verb Subject + Adverb + Verb + Object Subject + Adverb + Verb + Object Subject + Verb + Object + Adverb Subject + Adverb + Verb + Object Subject + Verb + Object + Adverb Subject + Adverb + Verb + Object

I eat rice w ch fn I understand w mng bi I often eat rice w chng chng ch fn I eat rice quickly (I quickly eat rice) w kui kui de ch fn I eat rice quickly today (I today quickly eat rice) w jn tin kui kui de ch fn The pretty girl Mi l de n rn The clever and pretty girl Cng mng yu mi l de n rn

Adjective + Subject Adjective + Subject Adjective + Adjective + Subject Adjective + Adjective + Subject

NOTE: and plays the same role, that is, added to the adverb/adjective in order to describe the verb/noun.

Singular & Plural


SINGULAR (any noun) I w You n He/She t/t PLURAL We w All of you n They t/t are sh are sh are sh teachers. . lo sh teachers. . lo sh teachers. . lo sh am sh are sh is sh a teacher. . lo sh a teacher. . lo sh a teacher. . lo sh

men

men

men

Other examples: SINGULAR I am a student: (W sh xu shng) You are Sarah: Sarah (N sh Sarah) He is a man: (T sh nn rn) PLURAL We are students: (W men sh xu shng) All of you are Sarah: Sarah (N men sh Sarah) They are men: (T men sh nnrn)

Possession
SINGULAR (any noun) (I) w (You) n He/She t/t PLURAL (We) w (All of you) n (They) t/t Our de Your de Their de teacher. . lo sh teacher. . lo sh teacher. . lo sh My de Your de Their de teacher. . lo sh teacher. . lo sh teacher. . lo sh

men

men

men

Other examples: SINGULAR My student: (W de xu shng) Sarah (N de Sarah) (T de n rn) PLURAL Our students: (W men de xu shng) Your Sarah: Sarah (N men de Sarah)

Your Sarah:

His woman:

Their women: (T men de n rn)

Positive, Negative & Question


Positive (P) Yes sh Can k y Good ho Like x huan Present zi Have yu Negative ( P) No b sh Cannot b k y Not good b ho Dont like b x huan Not present b zi Dont have mi yu Question1 (P P) Yes or No? ? sh b sh Can or cannot? ? k y b k y Good or not good? ? ho b ho Like or dont like? x huan b x huan Present or not? zi b zi Have or not? yu mi yu Question2(P ) Yes or No? ? sh ma Can or cannot? ? k y ma Good or not good? ? ho ma Like or dont like? ? x huan ma Present or not? ? zi ma Have or not? ? yu ma

Example: 1) Are you done/Have you finished? ? Ho le ma Done/Finished. . Ho le Not yet. Hi mi yu.

Numbers
Ones Tens Hundreds Thousands Ten thousands Million Hundred million sh bi qin wn bi wn y

34,567
= 3 wn 4 qin = Sn wn s qin 5 bi w bi 6 sh li sh 7 q

wn

qin

bi

sh

234,567
= 23 wn 4 qin 5 bi 6 sh 7 = r sh sn wn s qin w bi li sh q

( sh)

wn

qin

bi

sh

1,234,567
= = 123 wn 4 qin s qin 5 bi w bi 6 sh li sh 7 Y bi r sh sn wn q ONES One Y Two r Three Sn Four S Five W Six Li Seven Q Eight B Nine Ji Ten Sh TENS ( Sh) Eleven (Ten+One) Sh y Fifteen (Ten+Five) Sh w Twenty Three (Two+Ten+Three) r sh sn Eighty Seven (Eight+Ten+Seven) B sh q Ninety Ji sh HUNDREDS( B i) One hundred Y bi One hundred and fifteen Y bi sh w 323 Sn bi r sh sn 787 Q bi b sh q 990 Ji bi ji sh

( bi

sh)

wn

qin

bi

sh

Zero: Lng

NOTE: Two: r is only used when you count in maths (ex, one, two, three), date, telephone numbers. Two: Ling is normally used when you count things, ex, two teachers, two cats, two times. BUT when the number is more than ten, you use r , ex twenty-three teachers: (r sh sn wi lo sh)

Days
Days Monday Xng q y Tuesday Xng q r Wednesday Xng q sn Thursday Xng q s Friday Xng q w Saturday Xng q li Sunday Xng q tin Months January Y yu February r yu March Sn yu .. Years 2014 r lng y s nin 1993 Y ji ji sn nin

October Sh yu November Sh y yu December Sh r yu

Day ( tin) Today Jn tin Yesterday Zu tin Day b4 yesterday Qin tin 2 Days b4 yesterday D qin tin Tomorrow Mng tin Day after tomorrow Hu tin 2 Days after 2moro D hu tin

Month ( yu) This month Zh ge yu Last month Shng g yu Month b4 last Shng shng g yu 2 Months b4 last Shng shng shng g yu Next month Xi g yu Month after next Xi xi g yu 2 Months after next Xi xi xi g yu

Year ( nin) This year Jn nin Last year Q nin Year b4 last Qin nin 2 Years b4 last D qin nin Next year Mng nin Year after next Hu nin 2 Years after next D hu nin

DAYS Mon Xng q y 2 Days b4 yest D qin tin YEARS 2011 r lng y y nin 2 Years b4 last D qin nin MONTHS March Sn yu 2 Months b4 last Shng shng shng g yu

Tues Xng q r Day b4 yest Qin tin 2012 r lng y r nin Year b4 last Qin nin

Wed Xng q sn Yesterday Zu tin 2013 r lng y sn nin Last year Q nin

Thurs Xng q s Today Jn tin 2014 r lng y s nin This year Jn nin

Fri Xng q w Tomorrow Mng tin

Sat Xng q li Day after 2moro Hu tin

Sun Xng q tin 2 Days after 2moro D hu tin

2015 r lng y w nin Next year Mng nin

2016 r lng y li nin Year after next Hu nin

2017 r lng y q nin 2 Years after next D hu nin

April S yu Month b4 last Shng shng g yu

May W yu Last month Shng g yu

June Li yu This month Zh ge yu

July Q yu Next month Xi g yu

August B yu Month after next Xi xi g yu

September Ji yu 2 Months after next Xi xi xi g yu

Schools
School Kindergarten Yu zh yun Level 1st year Y nin j 2nd year r ninj 1st year Y nin j 2nd year r ninj 1st year Y nin j 2nd year r ninj (ditto) Short form

Primary School Xio xu (Small school)

1st year Xio y 2nd year Xio r 1st year Zhng y 2nd year Zhng r

Secondary School Zhng xu (Middle school)

Junior College Ch j xu yun Polytechnic L gng xu yun ITE Gng y jio y xu yun

(ditto)

(ditto)

Counters
A person, two people, three people A cat, two cats, three cats A piece of paper, two pieces of paper, three pieces of paper A slice of bread, two slices of bread, three slices of breads Classifier Pinyin g Uses 1. People 2. Things without specific shape 3. General Example Y g rn (one person) Ling g sh bo (two bags) Y zh mo (One cat) Sn zh loh (Three tigers) S zhng zh (Four pieces of paper) W tio y (Five fish) Li l qi (Six balls) Q l dngzi (Seven nails)

zh

Animals

zhng

Thin flat objects

tio

Long narrow objects

1. Roundish objects 2. Small objects

Songs
Happy Birthday Song
Wish Zh Zh Zh Zh you n n n n birthday sheng r sheng r sheng r sheng r happy kui l kuil kuil kuil

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qwSUf8E0UE

Two Tigers
Two Ling zh tigers, two tigers , lo h, ling zh lo h

Running fast, running fast , Po de kui, po de kui One dont have ears Y zh mi yu r duo Two Y zh dont have mi yu ears wi ba

Really strange, really strange Zhn q gui , zhn q gui (Sang to the tune of I hear thunder) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GRQetkyND8

Sister carries doll


Younger sister carries Mi mei bi zhe Walk reach Zu do Doll cry W w k western yang doll w w

garden come hu yun li already le

see flower kn hu

call mother jio m m

Tree up little bird laugh haha Sh shng xio nio xio hh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APJTpYsue1o

Poems
Quatrain of Seven Steps By Cao Zhi
Cozh q b sh Zh du rn du q (Cook bean burn bean stalk) Du zi f zhng q (Bean in pot middle cry) Bn sh tong gn sheng (Originally is same root born) Xing jin h ti j (Mutual fry why too hurry) Notes: After Cao Pi became the Emperor, he suspected that his brother Cao Zhi, was trying to usurp his rule so he summoned his brother and ordered him to produce a poem within seven steps otherwise hell be killed. After his brother came out with this poem, Cao Zhi was so touched that he spared his brothers life but only demoted him. Meaning: We shouldnt fight with one another since we are from the same origin. Burn the bean to boil it

The beans cry in the pot

We are born of the same root

Why do we torment each other?

Thoughts in the Silent Night


Libi jngy s Chung qin mng yugung (bed front bright moon light) Y sh dshng shung. (suspect is ground up frost) J tu wng mngyu (lift head gaze bright moon) D tu s gxing (low head think hometown) Notes: About a person who is away from home and thinking about home. The moon usually depicts longing and/or love. In front of bed the bright moon shines

Is it frost on the ground?

I lift my eyes and see the moon

I bow down my head and think of home

On The Stork Tower


Wng zh hun dng gun qu lu bi r y shn jn (white sun leans mountain end) hung h r hi li (yellow river enter sea flow) y qing qin l m (wish furthest thousand mile sight) gng shng y cng lu (more up one story floor) The sun beyond the mountain glows

The Yellow River seaward flows

You can enjoy a grander sight

By climbing to a greater height

Notes: In order to view further, you have to climb higher. It is used to encourage people to do better.

My retreat at Mount Zhongnan


Wng wi zhng nn bi y Zhng su p ho do, (middle age found good values) I found the Way in middle age,

Dwelled on the south hillside in my latter years. wn ji nnshn chu. (latter home south mountain frontier) When in high spirits I went out alone Xng li mi d wng, (high-spirits come every-time alone stroll) To delight in the wonders of the hills shng sh kng z zh. (wonderful matters only ownself know) Xng do shu qing ch, (walk until water end place) zu kn yn q sh. (sit see cloud rise time) u rn zh ln su (By chance meet woods old-man) tn xio w hun q. (talk laugh no return period) I walked as far as where the river dried

Then sat and watched the clouds arise

By chance I met an old man in the woods

We chatted, laughed and forgot to go home

Notes: Tired of the mundane life in his old age, he decided to retire in a secluded mountain to enjoy the mountain side views. Live one day, enjoy one day kind of lifestyle. The verses in red can be translated as, there are many up and downs in life, so when you meet a setback, sit down and wait for the silver lining (every cloud has a silver lining). Or that even if there is no rain now, one day it will because of the water cycle. So dont give up.

Idioms
Cry crocodile tears
, ( ) Mo k lo sh, (ji c bi) (cat cry mouse, fake benevolence)

Background: None Explanation: Cats and rats are mortal enemies so if a cat cries over the death of a rat, it must be fake (hypocritical) tears. Example: Do you think he was only crying crocodile tears? (you)(think)(he)(only)(is)(cry crocodile tears)(question) N ju de t zh sh mo k lo sh, ji c bi ma?

Sh sh y w (snake rat one nest) Gu ji lo sh, rn rn hn d (cross road rat, everyone shout beat)

In cahoots

Public enemy

Cast pearls before swine


Du ni tn qn (To cow play lute)

Background: ! ! Zhngu shdi, yu y ge jio Gngmng Y de ynyuji, t hn hu tnqn. Hn du rn du xhuan tng t tnqn, rnmen hn jngzhng t. Ytin, Gngmng Y zi jiowi yuwn sh, kndole y tu ni. T xing: dji du znyng w de qnj, br w gi ni y tn y q ba. T gi ni tnzule y q gy de qzi, ni mi tu ch co b l t. T yu tnzule y q hunkui de qzi, ni yrn mi tu ch co b l t. Gngmng Y n ch zj de qunb bnlng, jigu ni hish b l t. Gngmng Y fichng shwng, kish huiy zj de qnj. Lrn shu: "bsh n tn de qn b ho, rsh ni gnbn tng b dng a." In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was a master of the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. Unfortunately, his rash behavior often led him astray.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in a field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully, finding himself intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds, simply focusing its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised at this and could not comprehend the cow's flippant indifference. He felt that since his performance had been masterful, this means that the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music! Explanation: The speaker overestimates his audience and say thigs that the audience do not understand or appreciate. Example: Talking about computers with my grandmother is like casting pearls before swine. (with)(my)(grandmother)(say)(computer)(belonging)(matters) (just)(like)(cast pearls before swine) Gn w de p po shu din no de sh ji xing du ni tn qn.

http://www.chinese-tools.com/chinese/chengyu/story/51/duiniutanqin.html

Gild the lily


Hu sh tin z (Draw snake add feet)

Background:

Zhngu shq, chu gu yu yg dh rnji js zxin. Jl wnb yhu, zhrn bji shngc gi shuxi rn h, y h ji bgu j grn h de, ysh yuy grn ji ty shu, dji bsi hu sh, shu xin hu ho sh, zh h ji ji gu shu. Qzhng yg rn hu ho sh hu, ngu ji h, kn kn birn hi mi hu ho, ji dy yngyng de gi sh tinle j zh jio. Lng yg rn hu ho hu, dugu ji h shu:Sh bnli miyu jio, hu shng jio ji bsh shle. Zh ji gu wle. Shuzhe, ji bji hle.

During the Zhan guo period (Warring States period 475 B.C. to 221 B.C.), in the country of Chu, a large household held a ceremony and made a sacrifice in memory of their ancestors. After the ceremony was completed, the master of the household gave his servants a jug of wine to thank them for their help. But there wasn't enough wine for all the servants. One of them proposed that they should all draw a picture of a snake. The one who finished a good picture first would get the wine. One of the servants finished a good drawing. He looked around and saw that the others had not finished, so he triumphantly seized the jug of wine and then added feet to his snake. When one of

the other servants finished his drawing, he said: "It's a general rule that snakes do not have feet, so that isn't a snake." Having said this, he snatched the wine back and drank it down.

Stories
The boy and the nails
,

Explanation: (one)(boy)(everytime)(lose)(temper) Y g nn hi zi mi c f p q (A boy often loses his temper) (His)(father)(told)(him)(every time)(lose)(temper)(then)(hit) (one)(nail)(into)(wall) T de bba jio t mi c f p q ji d y l ding zi jn qing b. (His father told him to knock a nail into the wall each time he loses his temper)

(few)(day)(after)(he)(see)(already)(full)(wall)(also)(is)(nail) (feel) (very)(embarrassed)(so) (decide)(try ones best) (control) (ownself) J tin hu t kn do mn qing du sh ding zi, ju de hn cn ku, su y ju dng jn ling kng zh z j. (Few days later, after seeing that the wall was full of nails, he felt embarrassed, so he decided to try his best to control himself) (two)(weeks)(after)(he) (one)(day)(only)(nailed)(fifteen) (pieces) Ling g xng q hu, t y tin zh dng sh w l (Two weeks later, he only nailed 15 nails in a day) (one)(month)(after)(he)(one)(day)(only) (nail)(ten) (pieces) Y g yu hu t y tin zh dng sh l (One month later, he only nailed 10 nails in a day)

(three)(months)(after)(he)(one)(week)(dont have) (nail)(any) (nail) Sn g yu hu, t y g l bi mi yu dng rn h ding zi,

(3 months later, he did not nail any nail in a week) (so)(he)(happily)(go)(tell)(father) Su y t go xng de q go su b ba. (so he happily went to tell his father) (His)(father)(then)(call)(him)(get)(each)(nail)(take) (out) T de b ba ji jio t b mi g ding zi n ch li. (Then his father asked him to take out all the nails) (after that)(his)(father)(ask)(him)(wall)(have) (what) Gu hu, t de b ba wn t qing b yu shn me. (After that, his father asked him what is there on the wall)

(he)(see)(already)(have)(very)(many)(holes)(so) (understand) (already)(his)(father)(want)(teach)(him) (belonging to)(moral story) T kn do yu hn du dng, ji mng bi le t de b ba yo jio t de do l. (He saw many holes on the wall, and so understood the moral of the story that his father wanted to teach him)

Whose gift is it?


Explanation (have/there is)(one)(counter for man)(man)(every time)(insult and scold)(one (formal)) (tall/wise man) Yu y g rn mi c r m y wi go rn, (There was a man who insulted and scolded a wise man all the time) (say)(he)(dont have)(qualification)(teach)(other) (people) shu t mi z g jio bi rn. (saying that he is not qualified to teach others) (this)(counter for man (formal))(wise mans)(never)(dont have)(anger) Zh wi go rn cng li mi yu sheng q (The wise man never got angry, instead, he asked that man (instead)(has)(one)(day)(ask)(that)(counter for person)(man) fn'r yu y tin wn n g rn (instead, one day, he asked that person) (if)(have)(person)(give)(you)(a)(counter for gifts)(gift) (but)(you)(no/dont) (want)(accept) R gu yu rn gi n y fn l w, dn sh n b yo shu, (If someone were to give you a present, but you dont want to accept it) (please)(ask)(that)(counter for gift)(gift) (is)(who) (belong) Qng wn n fn l w sh shu de? (May I know who does the gift belong to ?) (that)(counter)(person)(replied back)(of course) (is)(mine) N g rn hu d, dng rn sh w de. (That person replied, of course its mine.)

(after that)(wise man)(said)(correct)(then)(if)(you) (scold)(me) (insult)(me) Rn hu go rn shu, du, n rgu n m w, w r w, (After that, the wise man said, correct, then if you were to scold me, insult me) (I)(no/dont)(angry)(no/dont)(accept)(then) (insult) (belong to)(who) w b sheng q, b ji shu, n w r sh y shu? (I dont get angry, dont accept it, then the insults belong to who?) (that)(counter)(person)(hear)(already)(after)(understand) (already)(wise man)(belonging)(moral of the story) N g rn ting le hu, mng bi le go rn de do l. (After hearing it, the man understood the moral of the story that the wise man conveyed)

The taxi driver and the man in a hurry


(has)(one)(day)(one)(counter)(man)(sit)(metered)(car) Yu y tin, y g rn zu j chng ch. (One day, a man took a taxi) (he)(every)(few)(minutes)(will)(ask/call)(taxi (colloquial)) (driver) (drive)(faster) T mi j fn zhng ji jio d sh s j ji kui din, (Every few minutes hell pester the taxi driver to drive faster) (because)(he)(want)(very fast)(arrive)(destination) Yn wi t yo kui kui d d m d de. (Because he wanted to arrive at his destination as fast as possible) (reach)(already)(destination)(after)(taxi)(car)(driver)( to)(him) (say) Do le m d de hu, j chng ch s j du t shu, (Once they arrived at the destination, the taxi driver said to him) (sir)(you)(why)(so)(hurry)(question) Xin shng, n wi sh me n me gn ne? (Sir, why are you in such a hurry?) (you)(have or not)(see)(already)(just now)(pass by) (belonging) (flower)(grass)(trees) N mi yu mi kn do gang ci jng gu de hu co sh m? (Did you see the greenery we passed by earlier?) (have or not)(saw)(just now)(pass by)(belonging) (beautiful) (belonging)(river)(flow) Yu mi yu kn do gang ci jng gu de mi l de h li? (Did you see the beautiful flowing river that we passed by earlier?) (have or not)(heard)(small)(bird) (crispy)(belonging) (sing)(voice) Yu mi yu tng do xio nio qng cu de g shng? (Did you hear the crispy singing of the birds?)

(because)(you)(constantly)(busy)(-ing)(hurry)(me)(fast) Yn wi n y zh mng zhe chu w kui, (Because you kept pestering me to go faster) (you)(miss)(already)(road)(process)(midst/middle)(beautiful) (belonging to) . N cu gu le l chng zhng mi l de fng jng. (You had missed the beautiful scenary during the course of our journey)

Chinese Ancient Myths & Legends


Chinese New Year Nian

Long ago in the mountains, there lived a horrible demon creature named Nian. Every year, on the first day of the year, the creature would awaken and descend upon the village. He would eat all the grain and livestock. And if there were any unfortunately children stuck outside, they would disappear. The villagers lived in fear of this beast and boarded up their houses on this night to protect their families. One year, right before this event was to occur, an old man visited the village. He turned to the villagers and asked, "Why do you fear this creature such? You are many and he is but one. Surely he could not swallow all of you." But the villagers remained skeptical and locked themselves up anyway. That night, Nian did not come. The old man had ridden him until dawn and the creature went back to its cave hungry. This went on for several nights until the old man revealed, "I cannot protect you forever." He turned out to be a god and had to return to his duties elsewhere. The villagers were terrified that once the old man left, they would once again see Nian return. So the old man informed them, "The beast is easily scared. He does not like the color red. He fears loud noises and strange creatures. So tonight, spread red across the village. Hang red signs on every door. Make loud noises with drums, music, and fireworks. And to protect your children, give them face masks and lanterns to protect them." The villagers did as the old man instructed and Nian never returned again. In Chinese, the word for New Years is Guo Nian. Literally translated it means to "pass over Nian" or "overcome Nian". That is exactly what the villagers did. It has become a tradition that part of New Years celebration is to hang lots of red decoration in your

house. Streets are filled with music, loud drums, and fireworks all day long. And special paper lanterns are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, paraded through the streets to scare off any demons that might come.

The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac


The Jade Emperor (The Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) ordered that animals would be designated as calendar signs and the twelve that arrived first would be selected. At that time, the cat and the rat were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of this news, the cat said to the rat: 'We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.' The rat then promised to awaken his friend and go together. However, on the morning when he got up, he was too excited to recall his promise, and went directly to the gathering place. On the way, he encountered the tiger, ox, horse, and other animals that ran much faster. In order not to fall behind them, he thought up a good idea. He made the straightforward ox carry him on condition that he sang for the ox. At last, the ox and him arrived first. The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the rat had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. Meanwhile his neighbor the cat was too late so when it finally arrived, the selection was over. That's why other animals appear behind the little rat and why the cat hates the rat so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill it.

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl


This tale, which is at least 6th century BC old, starts its story in the skies.

The Weaver Girl Star ( ; zh n xng), referring to the Vega star and the Cowherd Star ( ; qin ni xng), referring to the Altair Star, fell deeply in love with each other. However, in the Heavens of the Chinese mythological world, it is against the heavenly rules for these stars or deities to have romantic relationships. Moreover, the Weaver Girl Star is the granddaughter of the Heavenly Empress. When word of their forbidden love reached the ears of the powerful Heavenly Empress, she became furious and sent the Cowherd Star down to Earth as a mortal. The Weaver Girl was punished to weave non-stop in the sky. In the legend, clouds in the skies were weaved by the Weaver Girl with magical silk and weaving machine. Different colours were weaved according to different times of the day and season. One day, a group of fairies requested the Heavenly Empress for permission to descend to the mortal world, to Bi Lian Lake ( ; b lin ch), a lake which could beautify and whiten

skin. The Empress was in a good mood and agreed. The fairy girls taking pity on the Weaver Girl for working so hard on her weaving, further requested for her to join them on the trip. Heavenly Empress thought for quite a while, and gave in eventually. On earth, when the Cowherd Star descended to the mortal world, he was reborn into a farming family and named as Cowherd / Cow Boy ( ; ni lng). After his parents passed away, he stayed with his brother and sister-in-law, who treated him very badly. Eventually he was chased out of their home with only an old Ox and a broken cart. The Cowherd and the old Ox depended on each other and lived through hardship together. They plowed and worked hard and in a couple of years, managed to build a small house and make ends meet. Unknown to the Cowherd, the old Ox was originally the Golden Ox Star ( ; Jn ni xng). One day, the Ox suddenly spoke, to the Cowherds surprise. The Ox said to him, Go to Bi Lian Lake today. You will find the dresses of some fairies by the rocks, while they are bathing in the lake. Take the red dress and the fairy will become your wife. Shocked and thrilled, the cowherd took the advice, for he has been alone and yearns a companion. He hid near the lake and sure enough, true to the Oxs words, fairies flew down from the sky. The fairies placed their dresses by the rock and stepped into the Lake. Seeing his chance, the Cowherd ran out and grabbed the red dress. The fairies were frantic to find there was man around. Wearing their dresses in haste, they flew back to heaven. Only one fairy was left in the lake, for the Cowherd was holding onto her dress. She was none other than the Weaver Girl Star. The Cowherd walked forward and asked the Weaver Girl to be his wife, in exchange for her dress. At this moment, the Weaver Girl recognized him as the Cowherd Star whom she was still deeply in love with. Shyly but happily, she accepted his marriage request and became his wife. Life on earth for them was wonderful. They bore a son and a daughter and lived happily as a family. However, their joy and peace did not last forever. For when the Heavenly Empress knew of this matter, she stormed in rage! She immediately deployed heaven guards and soldiers to bring the Weaver Girl back for punishment. Back on earth, the Cowherd ran back home in the midst of his plowing day with sad news that the old Ox has passed away. He told the Weaving Girl that the Ox spoke before it died. It asked him to keep his ox hide well. One day, he will be able to cape the hide and fly into the sky. Upon hearing this, the Weaving Girl realized that the Ox was once the Golden Ox Star, who was also punished to the mortal world when he tried to speak in favour for the Cowherd Star. Sadly, they peeled the hide and gave the Ox a burial.

Right at this moment, the heaven guards and soldiers came! In an instance, they grabbed the Weaving Girl and flew off. Sad as she may be, the Weaving Girl could do nothing about it. Helplessly, she flew in the skies with the guards to the heavens. Weaver Girl, wait for me! The Weaver Girl heard the Cowherds voice. Looking back, she saw him flying behind them, wearing the magical Ox hide with each hand holding a basket and their 2 children in them. The gap between them became closer and closer. Soon, Weaver Girl could see the adoring faces of her children and hear their cries for her. Just when they were almost reunited, the Heavenly Empress appeared and with a wave of her hairpin, created a galaxy (the Milky Way) between them, forming an impenetrable barrier.

The couple and their children gazed helplessly across the Milky Way at each other. Emotionally torn, they cried and cried. Fairies and gods who heard their cries all felt pity for them and pained that the loving family had to be separated. Soon, even the Empress soften her heart. She allowed the family (including the 2 children) to stay in the sky and remain as stars, permitting them to meet once every year on the 7th day of the 7th month. On that day of the year, countless magpies ( ; x qu) would form a bridge to reunite the Cowherd, the Weaving Girl and their two children in the skies.

Chinese Ancient Stories