The Little Bird with No Head

I apologize for not posting a month or so, I’ve been in the process of – ta da – moving back to China, so life’s been exciting but busy. On the upside, looks like I’ll have some interesting new posts from here. But today, in place of something interesting, we’ve got a slightly insipid story for young children about a bird who appears to have no head.

Not sure what the life lesson is in this story or if it’s supposed to have one at all. Maybe “don’t gossip”? Or “don’t make wild assumptions?” Not sure. I’d say the most interesting word in here is 天哪, which means “My goodness!” This is used with relative frequency in China, and it’s a good interjection to use when you’re shocked or unpleasantly surprised about something but don’t want to swear or be offensive. For example, if you walked into a room that smelled badly, or if you were jostled by a few dozen people coming off the subway, or if you found out that something you want to buy is outrageously expensive. It doesn’t always have negative connotations, though – this can be used neutrally as well, but I rarely hear it used in a super positive context. Because the word 天 “Tian” ends with an “n” and the word 哪 “na” starts with one, this usually comes out sounding like “Tian ah!” rather than “Tian na”.



一只小刺猬走过,他说: “天哪,这只白鹭怎么没有脑袋!”





白鹭笑着说: “我是把脑袋钻进翅膀底下,梳理梳理羽毛,我怎么是没有脑袋的鸟呢?”



Show English translation »
An egret stood in the middle of a shallow pond.

A hedgehog walked up and said, “Goodness gracious! Somehow, that egret has no head!”

“Really!” a little mole also cried out, “This is the first time I’ve seen a bird without a head!”  

“If I didn’t have a head, I wouldn’t be able to live!” the little hedgehog said.  

“Yes, but this bird can still stand there not moving, how very impressive!”  

At this time, from beneath her wing the egret stretched out a long neck, and on top of that long neck grew a very short head.  

Smiling, the egret said, “I had my head tucked beneath my wing to comb out my feathers, how could I be a bird with no head?”  

The little hedgehog and the little mole smiled, and they said:  

“It was us that weren’t using our heads to think, sorry Sister Egret!”  

38 replies on “The Little Bird with No Head”

I have been using your site to improve my chinese reading skills and i just have to say THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!

I had quite a hard time finding any good material for reading practice but this website is just perfect.
Keep up the good work, I really appreciate it !

I was thinking, is it posible to put ping ying on top
Of the characters? Im chinese american and trying to learn how to read:-)

Oh dear. “I wouldn’t of been” is totally incorrect English. A pity it occurred within your selection. Its correct form would be “I wouldn’t have been”.

Thanks for the eagle-eye. Because I’m quoting another person, I’m hesitant to change that, but I appreciate the note.

It says that 浅浅 can mean “flowing water” (jian jian) but it can also mean “shallow” (qian qian)”. How did you choose to pick the “flowing water” option instead of the shallow water option since they both work in context?

Also, 端端 is repeated: does this mean it is emphasising the end of the neck? It means “end” but I thought repeating a character worked for only adjectives (eg. gan gan jing jing).

Thank you for your hard work! 😀

I think if we use:
1) “好短短” the meaning is “very short”; “very short head, very little head”.
2) “好端端”hǎoduānduān
in perfectly good condition; when everything is all right
[in perfectly good condition] 状态良好;无端
“in very perfectly good condition head”

“Yes, but this bird can still stand there not moving, how very impressive!” 

I’m not that good at grammar, but this bothers me a bit. I read the other comment and saw you were quoting another person and was wondering if this was just a mistake or a quote.

That is indeed a poorly-written sentence. There are probably a billion grammatical mistakes in the English on this website – the English here is meant as a guide to the Chinese, and is very casually presented. I’ve taken absolutely no care with the English, other than to ensure it conveys the meaning of the Chinese well enough to guide a Chinese learner.

Your website is very helpful, but I really wish you had these stories written in traditional Chinese as well.

Thanks for putting this website together. I love how I can hover over the Chinese words and get their definitions. This saves me from copying and pasting them to another website like Google translate.

Great site! I absolutely appreciate what you have done. So helpful. Please contact me if you need any support, I will try help.

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