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A slightly nonsensical fairy tale about a young woman and a cabbage-stealing rabbit that wants to marry her.

One of the interesting grammatical points in this story is the phrase 吃光 chī guāng. We know that chī means “to eat”, but guāng typically means “to be bright” – so what are those two words doing next to each other? A secondary meaning of the word guāng is “to finish”, or “to use up”. It’s usually placed after a verb to indicate that the verb was done until it couldn’t be done any more, or until something was gone – in this case “to eat up”.

Another interesting word here is the word 动手 dòng shǒu, literally “move hands”. In this case, it means “get going”, or “get started working [on something]“, as in the phrase 现在动手烧饭吧, or “Start cooking now”.

I’d imagine the most confusing piece of this text is the last sentence of the paragraph that begins “第三天…”. Within the parentheses, the tone of the story randomly changes. This should be read as the first (and only) interjection by the story’s narrator, who elaborates on what kind of animals attended the wedding.

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从前 – cóng qián – Once there was… / Long ago there was…
妇人 – fù rén – Married woman
赶走 – gǎn zǒu – Drive off, chase away
尾巴 – wěi ba – Tail
不肯 – bù kěn – To be unwilling
拒绝 – jù jué – To refuse
牧师 – mù shī – Clergyman, pastor
主持 – zhǔ chí – To manage, oversee
司仪 – sī yí – Master of ceremonies
祭坛 – jì tán – Altar
抽泣 – chōu qì – Sob hysterically
不耐烦 – bù nài fán – Impatient
沉默 – chén mò – Silent, uncommunicative
稻草人 – dào cǎo rén – Scarecrow


从前有个妇人,她带着女儿住在一座漂亮的花园里,院子里种了许多卷心菜。冬天,有只兔子来到院子里偷吃卷心菜,妈妈对女儿说:“去把那兔子赶走。”小姑娘就出来对兔子说: “喂!兔子,你快把我们家的卷心菜吃光了。” 兔子对小姑娘说:“小姑娘,来坐到我尾巴上来吧,我带你上我家去。”

小姑娘不肯

第二天,兔子又来吃卷心菜了。妈妈又对女儿说:“到院子里去把那只兔子赶走。”小姑娘就出来对兔子说:“喂!兔子,你快把我们家的卷心菜吃光了。”兔子对小姑娘说: “小姑娘,来坐到我尾巴上来吧,我带你上我家去。”小姑娘还是拒绝了。

第三天,兔子又来了,坐在卷心菜上面。妈妈对女儿说:“去把那兔子赶走。”小姑娘就出来对兔子说:“喂!兔子,你快把我们家的卷心菜吃光了。” 兔子对小姑娘说:“小姑娘,来坐到我尾巴上来吧,我带你上我家去。”小姑娘坐到兔子尾巴上,被带到了很远的兔子家。它对姑娘说:“现在动手烧饭吧,用青菜和小米,我去请来参加婚礼的客人。”接着,所有的客人都到了(谁是客人?我把别人告诉我的说给你听吧:全是兔子!奶牛是牧师,为新郎新娘主持婚礼;狐狸是司仪祭坛在彩虹下面。)

姑娘十分难过,因为只有她是人。小兔子走来说:“开门开门快开门,客人们都很有兴趣。”被当成新娘的姑娘一言不发地抽泣起来,兔子走了出去。它再回来时又说:“开饭开饭快开饭,客人们肚子都很饿了。”新娘还是一声不吭,顾自流泪,兔子又走了。它第三次回来时对小姑娘说:“揭开锅盖快揭开,客人已经不耐烦。”新娘沉默着,兔子又出去了。于是姑娘将自己的衣服套在一个稻草人身上,给它一把勺子装成搅拌锅里煮的东西的样子,然后把它摆在锅边,自己回家找妈妈去了。小兔子又回来喊:“快开饭,快开饭!”然后站起来,对着新娘就是一拳,结果把稻草人的帽子给打掉了。

小兔子发现这不是它要的新娘,十分难过地离开了那里。

SHOW ENGLISH TRANSLATION »

Long ago, there was a married woman who brought her daughter to live in a beautiful garden planted with many cabbages. In winter, a rabbit came to the garden and stole the cabbages to eat. Mama said to her daughter, “Go chase that rabbit away.” The girl went outside and said to the rabbit, “Wei! Rabbit, you’ll soon eat up all of our cabbage!” The rabbit said to the girl, “Young lady, come sit on my tail, I’ll take you to my house.”

But the girl was unwilling.

On the second day, the rabbit came to eat the cabbages again. Mama again said to her daughter, “Go into the garden and drive that rabbit away.” The girl went outside and said to the rabbit, “Wei! Rabbit, you’ll soon eat up all of our cabbage!” The rabbit said to the girl, “Young lady, come sit on my tail, I’ll take you to my house.” But the girl still refused.

On the third day, the rabbit came again, and sat on top of the cabbage. The mother said to her daughter, “Go chase that rabbit away.” So the girl went outside and said, “Wei! Rabbit, you’ll soon eat up all of our cabbage!” The rabbit said to the girl, “Young lady, sit on my tail and I’ll take you to my house.” The girl sat on the rabbit’s tail and was taken to the rabbit’s house far away. He said to the girl, “Now get started with the cooking, use green vegetables and millet, I’ll go invite guests to the wedding.” Presently, all the guests arrived (and who were the guests? I’ll tell you what I heard from someone else: They were all rabbits! A dairy cow was the pastor, who took charge of the wedding for the bride and groom; and a fox was the master of ceremonies, with his altar set beneath a rainbow).

The girl was very sad, because only she was human. The rabbit approached her and said, “Open the door, open the door, hurry and open the door, the guests are very interested [in seeing you].” The unwitting bride [lit: girl who was being treated as a bride] began sobbing without saying anything, and the rabbit went away. When he came back again, he said, “Serve the food, serve the food, hurry and serve the food, the guests are all very hungry.” The girl, crying to herself, still didn’t make a peep, and the rabbit again went away. The third time he came back, he said to the girl, “Uncover the saucepan, quick uncover the pot, the guests are getting impatient.” The bride remain uncommunicative, and the rabbit went away again. So the girl took her own clothes and put them on a scarecrow, put a spoon in its hand so that it appeared to be stirring the boiling pot, then positioned him next to the pot, and then she went back home to her mother.

The rabbit came back again and yelled, “Hurry and serve the food, hurry and serve the food!” Then he stood up and raised a fist to the girl, and consequently knocked the scarecrow’s hat off.

When the rabbit found out that this wasn’t his bride, he sadly went away from there.



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