情毒 Translation

Had a sudden urge to listen to 情毒 by Kelly Chen tonight. Besides hearing it in the months after its release, I don’t think I’ve played it once in the almost 15 years since. It’s a song that really spoke to me back then, and I still remember a night I was driving in the Sunset and listening to the CD. Listening to it now, I find it more true than ever.

There are some obvious electronic instruments used in the song which, in my opinion, would sound pretty awesome if they were replaced with the real thing. Such as it is, the HK music industry is all about copycatting and churning, and I do believe this was a churn album produced at the height of Ms. Chen’s popularity.

Even so, the lyrics to this song have a truth to them which I will try to bring out in English. Here’s a YouTube video of the song:

Love Poison

作詞: 李俊一
Lyrics by: Joe Lei

作曲: 李俊一
Music by: Joe Lei

主唱: 陳慧琳
Performed by: Kelly Chen

They say good medicine is bitter
But love (poison) is actually more so
It can drown you in teardrops

The bitterness remaining on the taste buds
Brings a strand of drunken sweetness
Like opium, I cannot stop

It can be like fire burning
And being buried in snow
Desire is the most poisonous medicine

Maybe I’d rather give up my life
Than give up that person
That first kiss moved my soul, and shook my heart

Let me drink it then
Until every inch of my heart breaks
And still thank you for the pain

A more toxic poison
Doesn’t match the longing
You can’t resist the yearning, even at the end

I willingly accept the pain

Repeat *****

Let me drink it then
Endure excruciating pain
Wishing only for a gentle kiss when it takes hold

A more harmful poison
Doesn’t compare with cowardice
It makes you numb, lose your mind

I willingly accept the pain

Repeat #####
Repeat &&&&&

冷雨夜 Translation

Here’s my second attempt at translating a Cantonese song. I have to say that it’s not as easy as it first seems. There are plenty of literal-translation traps to avoid, where using the literal translation results in some weird shit (IMHO) in English. At the same time, entire words get lost in translation as a result (example: the street lamps in the second line are supposed to be blue street lamps, or perhaps street lamps that emit blue light, or perhaps aren’t street lamps at all, but the actual blue light emitted from street lamps).

When I listen closely to the song and follow along with the lyrics, a picture forms in my mind. In translating to English, I tried to convey the picture as much as possible, while still keeping a good flow. It’s a matter of choices, as can be seen in the blue street lamp example. Of course, this is just my own interpretation, and I’m sure the picture is different for everyone.

I’ve linked the live karaoke version below, because it has a badass bass solo. The original 1988 release can be heard here.

Cold Rainy Night

作詞: 黃家強
Lyrics by: Wong Ka Keung
作曲: 黃家駒
Music by: Wong Ka Kui
主唱: 黃家強
Performed by: Wong Ka Keung

Slowly walking amidst the rain
Street lamps passing one by one

We gaze at one another
Holding each other tightly, silently

Looking for those days past
Searching for those warm days past
They’ve gone away

The rain hits my face freely
It’s hard to tell what’s rain, what’s tears

My thoughts are a jumble
Worries coiled up like a thousand threads

Going from hot to cold
Words that unintentionally hurt her
Can’t be taken back

On this cold, rainy night I’m at your side
Hoping that you’d know
Know that my heart
Has already changed
There’s only obligation now

On this cold, rainy night I don’t want to go home
Afraid to see you turned away
Smiling ruefully at the rain
Though I know I must make it clear
I’m afraid to even try

Slowly walking amidst the rain
Tasting the flavor of the water
It does seem like
This is the moment it ends

Have not understood
What being together means

Repeat *****
Repeat #####
Repeat *****
Repeat #####


孤單一吻 Translation

In an effort to keep up (and possibly improve) my Chinese, here’s my attempt at translating Beyond’s 孤單一吻 into English. The lyrics are copied from Mojim.com, with some corrections. The English is my own. 😉 I tried to preserve the meaning and have it make some sense instead of just translating it literally.

I really like the Latin/flamenco flavor of this song. It’s possible that the lyrics are referring to a flamenco dancer. You can listen for yourself below:

A Lonely Kiss

Lyrics by: Wong Ka Keung
Music by: Wong Ka Kui
Performed by: Wong Ka Kui

The dance music plays like fire
Its romantic rhythm dances with you
放縱野性 似醉在狂舞動
Primal passions unleashed, wildly dancing as if intoxicated

Like seductive fire, a fragrant kiss on your lips
Heat permeates into my dream
Spreading to all, beauty is love and desire

幻想著愛 是永恆的故事
Fantasizing love, an eternal story
幻想是愛 永遠也拋不開
Fantasy that is love, eternally present

Pull closer, skin to skin, romance to your heart’s desire
此刻的心 為你跳動
My heart in this moment, it beats for you

孤單的一吻 她肖像
The lonely kiss, her portrait
消失的一吻 難抓緊
The disappearing kiss, difficult to grasp

A purple fan, face half covered
Enchantment fills my eyes
冷冷笑意 看見亦難接近
A cold smile, both visible and difficult to near

Disappearing into the darkness is the dancer’s silhouette
Indifferently dissipating my hallucination
Looking all over intently, again hoping to find it

幻想著愛 是永恆的故事
Fantasizing love, an eternal story
幻想是愛 永遠也拋不開
Fantasy that is love, eternally present

Pull closer, skin to skin, romance to your heart’s desire
此刻的心 為你跳動
My heart of this moment, it beats for you

孤單的一吻 她肖像
The lonely kiss, her portrait
消失的一吻 難抓緊
The disappearing kiss, difficult to grasp

孤單的一吻 她肖像
The lonely kiss, her portrait
消失的一吻 難抓緊
The disappearing kiss, difficult to grasp

Pull closer, skin to skin, romance to your heart’s desire
此刻的心 為你跳動
My heart in this moment, it beats for you

孤單的一吻 她肖像
The lonely kiss, her portrait
消失的一吻 難抓緊
The disappearing kiss, difficult to grasp

孤單的一吻 她肖像
The lonely kiss, her portrait
消失的一吻 難抓緊
The disappearing kiss, difficult to grasp

起舞如火焰 消失永沒追尋
When dance and flame disappear, never pursue

起舞如火焰 消失永沒追尋
When dance and flame disappear, never pursue

起舞如火焰 消失永沒追尋
When dance and flame disappear, never pursue

起舞如火焰 消失永沒追尋
When dance and flame disappear, never pursue

At the Post Office

Today’s lesson has to do with going to the post office. Since I’ll be mailing my tax return, I’ll be looking for proof of mailing as well as proof of delivery. In America, I would be buying a certificate of mailing, and sending my packet with delivery confirmation. In Hong Kong, the terms are a little different.

Delivery confirmation is “advice of receipt”, 派遞通知書. In a previous lesson we learned 遞, and it makes another appearance here along with 派 (more info to follow).

In America, a proof of mailing is known as a “Certificate of Mailing”. Here, it is “Certificate of Posting of Registered Packet”, 投寄掛號郵件證明書. You must use registered mail, I’m not even sure you can get the certificate without it. In case you’re wondering, the certificate is form number Pos 511.

Here’s the breakdown:

派遞通知書 – Pài dì tōngzhī shū – 派遞 is delivery. If you asked me what the difference between 派遞 and 送遞 is, I’m not sure what I’d tell you. I know that 派 is to give out. Some things you would give out (for free) would be candy 派糖 and money 派錢. In Hong Kong, I’ve learned that 派糖 also refers to government handouts. Go figure. 通知書 is simply “notification document”. My first thought of 書 is always “book”, but it’s a character that can also be used for letters, documents, and certificates.

投寄掛號郵件證明書 – Tóu jì guàhào yóujiàn zhèngmíng shū – This one is a mouthful. 投寄 is the act of mailing. When I think of 投 I think of throw, so I guess “throw mail” is mailing. 掛號 is registered, literally “hang a number”. 郵件 is just a piece of mail, and 證明 is proof. We talked about 書 above. All together, we have “the act of mailing a registered piece of mail certificate of proof”. 🙂

空郵 – Kōng yóu – air mail.
掛號郵件 – Guàhào yóujiàn – registered mail.
快郵服務 – Kuài yóu fúwù – express delivery, literally “fast mail service”.

For reference, here’s the Hong Kong Post website. See you next time!

Some New Words

rectitude – morally correct behavior.

“Mr. So and So is a stand-up guy, a real model of rectitude.”

torpor – a state of mental or physical inactivity.

I guess if you google this word you’ll find that the word’s primary use is for describing animals adapting to adverse conditions. But it can be used for humans as well, to describe lethargy.

inimical – tending to obstruct or harm; hostile.

If you don’t get along with someone, you might expect some inimical behavior from them. Here’s a good one: the Hong Kong government frequently receives inimical responses to its policies from the Democratic Party.

Two New Words

loquacious – talkative.

I recently read an article about David Stern’s retirement, and Mark Cuban was described in the article as loquacious.

anachronism – a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists. The attribution of something to a period to which it does not belong.

Saw this word in a couple of places but don’t remember where exactly. The “chron” part of the word has to do with time and is a clue of its meaning.


I seem to have noticed the word alacrity in multiple places recently, so here it is.

alacrity – brisk and cheerful readiness.

In the instances where this word appeared, it was usually someone doing something with alacrity or responding to a call to action, such as a military person responding to an order to fight. For me, I think the next time I sit down to a feast, I’ll do so with alacrity.

Two New Words

Learned a couple of new words today while reading a rewatch of Star Trek: First Contact.

First (and I’m really glad I finally learned this word), we have:

leitmotif – a recurring theme in a musical or literary composition.

It was fun in the beginning but in the later Star Trek movies they would always play the same music whenever Klingons, or specifically, Worf, appeared. In the scene where Worf is commanding the Defiant against the Borg cube, the Klingon music plays. I notice this every time I watch the movie, and now I know what to call it: a leitmotif.

The second word is:

petard a small bomb made of a metal or wooden box filled with powder.

This word is frequently associated with the phrase hoist by one’s own petard, having one’s schemes against others backfiring on one. According to the Straight Dope, this line originally came from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I’ll probably never use this word, but it’s good to know what it means in case I ever see it again.

Learning Chinese – Takeout Menu 2

Continuing on from the last post (which only covered the first page!), today we continue with the rest of the menu, with some actual food items.

類 – lèi – type, variety, kind. In a lot of Chinese menus we will see different sections for different types of food, and these sections are usually labeled something-類. In the case of this particular menu, 類 appears in 餛飩類, i.e. that section is all about the wontons.

麵 – miàn – in Chinese menus, this refers to noodles. The character itself is often used in combination with another to form a compound term that usually has something to do with wheat, i.e. 麵包 (bread) or 麵粉 (flour). Note that the left part of the character is also the character for wheat, 麥 (though this character can be used for other grains as well). The right part is 面 (face, also pronounced miàn), and is probably there for phonetic purposes.

素菜 – sùcài – vegetarian dish. 素 is vegetable, plain, simple. 菜 is also vegetable, usually referring to some kind of greens. It can also mean dish or cuisine, i.e. 這個菜很好吃 or 我喜歡日本菜.

西洋菜 – xīyáng cài – watercress. 西洋 is Western, i.e. Western (white) people. I don’t know why watercress is called “western vegetable”; perhaps it was introduced to China from the West (or not).

酸辣 – suān là – literally sour-hot, i.e. hot and sour. I guess “hot and sour soup” sounds better than “sour and hot soup”. The radical for 辣 is 辛, and I like how it actually looks like a pepper in the character.

併雪菜肉絲麵 – bìng xuěcài ròusī miàn – 併 is combine, 雪菜肉絲麵 is pickled-cabbage 雪菜 and shredded-pork 肉絲 noodles. This entry appears after a smaller order of wontons to indicate that the smaller order is paired with (i.e. combined with) noodles on the side. 雪菜 is literally “snow vegetable”, and 肉絲 is literally “meat-strips” or “meat-threads”. My guess is that once the cabbage is pickled, it appears translucent like snow, hence the name. 絲 is also the word for silk, so the meat strips are finely cut like strands of silk. 雪菜肉絲 is a pretty common combination. In HK-style restaurants, you can often find it with rice noodles in soup for breakfast.

每打 – měi dá – normally 打 means hit, but in this context it means dozen and is pronounced differently. 每 is each, so 每打 is each dozen.

鮮肉餃 – xiānròu jiǎo – fresh meat dumpling.

Just from this little 餛飩類 section, I’ve gleaned 17 characters to practice. I’ll be writing each one out at least 10 times, there’s no other way around it. Until next time…

Learning Spanish – Times and Dates

¿Cuál es la fecha? – What is the date?
¿Que hora es? – What time is it?
Son las tres y veintiuno de la tarde. – It is 3:21 in the afternoon.

Lunes – Monday
Martes – Tuesday
Miércoles – Wednesday
Jueves – Thursday
Viernes – Friday
Sábado – Saturday
Domingo – Sunday

Día – Day
Hoy – Today
Mañana – Tomorrow

Hoy es miércoles. – Today is Wednesday.
Mañana es sábado. – Tomorrow is Saturday.

Note that days of the week are not capitalized in Spanish.

Enero – January
Febrero – February
Marzo – March
Abril – April
Mayo – May
Junio – June
Julio – July
Agosto – August
Septiembre – September
Octubre – October
Noviembre – November
Diciembre – December

Es diciembre. – It is December.

Same as with the days of the week, the months are not capitalized in Spanish.

¿A qué hora? – At what hour?

Hora – Hour
Minuto – Minute
Mediodía – Noon
Medianoche – Midnight
De la mañana – A.M.
De la tarde – P.M.
Cuarto – Quarter
Ayer – Yesterday
Fecha – Date
Momento – Moment

Hoy es el once de diciembre. – Today is the 11th of December.
El tres de noviembre es mi cumpleaños. – The third of November is my birthday.
Mañana es sábado. – Tomorrow is Saturday.
A las dos de la mañana. – At two in the morning.