This is an upper-beginner or low-intermediate level text. It’s good for beginner readers in the sense that a) it’s short, and b) it’s extremely repetitive – if you can puzzle out the first two or three sentences, the rest should be clear. To get you going, it might be worth noting there that the protagonist is a small blade of (or lump of, or field of – it’s never really defined) grass named “YinYin” (小草银银), who keeps asking one particular favor of each season.

Simplified Chinese Literacy: Easy Passages in Chinese for BeginnersThe seasons are personified as ladies – for example, “The Lady of Spring” (春姑娘) and “the Lady of Summer” (夏姑娘), etc.

There’s so much metaphor going on in this I’m not sure where to start. You could choose to interpret this as a statement about aging, about changing seasons, go nuts.

And on a personal note, not 100% sure I’m happy with the conclusion that’s drawn here, considering I dye my hair all the time, but what the hell.

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春天 – chūn tiān – springtime
染 – rǎn – dye
青色 – qīng sè – A blue, green or blue-green the Chinese consider the “color of nature”
伤心 – shāng xīn – Broken-hearted
夏天 – xià tiān – Summer
深绿 – shēn lǜ – Dark green
秋天 – qiū tiān – Autumn
金黄 – jīn huáng – Golden yellow
冬天 – dōng tiān – Winter
后悔 – hòu huǐ – Regret
可不要 – kě bù yào – Won’t [you] be…(ex. sad?)
忽然 – hū rán – Suddenly
掉下来 – diào xià lái – fall, drop down

The little grass YinYin liked the color silver.
  In spring time, little grass Yinyin asked the Lady of Spring to dye her hair silver. The Lady of Spring said: “I’m sorry, YinYin, I can only dye your hair blue/green [see explanation]. YinYin was very broken-hearted.

In summer time, little grass YinYin asked the Lady of Summer to dye her hair silver. The lady of summer said, “I’m sorry, YinYin, I can only dye your hair green!” YinYin was very broken-hearted.

In autumn, little grass YinYin asked the Lady of Autumn to dye her hair silver. The Lady of Autumn said: “I’m sorry, YinYin, I can only dye your hair golden yellow.” YinYin was very broken-hearted.

In winter, little grass YinYin asked the Lady of Winter to dye her hair silver. The Lady of Winter said, “Okay, but won’t you regret it?” YinYin said, “I won’t, if I had hair that beautiful I couldn’t be happier!” And so YinYin’s hair turned silver. Suddenly, YinYin’s hair fell out – how could this be? Of course, if you dye your hair too often, it’s not good for you. And after this YinYin was indeed regretful.

31 comments to "Little Grass’ Silver Hair"

  1. I loved this story! It was interesting and had a lot of good new words. Only thing: I think some of the vocab words on the right side of the page have the wrong pinyin translation

    • Ah hah! Thanks, typos there.

    • yep… nice story. i think it teaches kids not to dye there hair so… much when they grow up!

      • I was aiming for Chinese New Year’s Resolutions but may wait until Groundhog Day.My clear-out cteniouns and it is so pleasant. Giving unwanted stuff away is as much fun as it was having it. The highlight was giving the snooker table to a Polish immigrant family with four young boys. I’m enjoying the space AND a nice box of chocolates. (Psst, try to get chocolate for the items you clear out!)

  2. could you explain the meaning of 后悔呦? im especially confused about 呦 because it says ‘bleating of the dear’ when you hover over it!

    • Well, first to address this “bleating of the deer” business. In English, we make animal noises by approximating them with letters. Dogs go “woof woof”, cats go “meow meow”, etc. In Chinese, they approximate with characters. 吼 is the sound of a roaring lion. A cat meow is 喵喵. Sheep go 咩. And apparently, 呦 is the sound a Chinese deer makes.

      In this case, obviously, we’re not literally talking about the bleating of a deer, but we are perhaps talking about bleating in general. In English, when we make an exclamatory noise in a sentence, it often (but not always) goes at the beginning of the sentence, like this, “Woah, that was crazy!” or “Yikes! I almost stepped on that.” “Gosh, I’m so embarrassed.” In Chinese, they have similar ways to enhance a sentence’s meaning. One way to do that is to add a sound to the end of a sentences that makes it stronger or acts as a “yikes”, a “woah”, a “gosh”, etc. – in this case, they’re using 呦. There are lots of different characters we can add to the end of the sentence that are, in essence, just sounds, but that strengthen the meaning of the sentence or can even change it a little.

      呦 is really just a sound being used as a general exclamation, but also, if you google 后悔呦 by itself, you’ll see that this 呦 is very often used with 后悔.

      Example: 租不租?别后悔呦!(To rent or not to rent? Don’t do something you’ll regret!)

      So, I’d read that as, “But gosh, won’t you regret it?”

      Here’s another site with some more examples of 呦

  3. So glad you explained the bleating of the deer! It makes much more sense now. My husband and I are practicing our Chinese by translating these, and we thought it might have been a typo. Thank you!!

  4. 冬姑娘is such a mean lady.

  5. Cute story…great site…thank you

  6. Great story – the repetition really lodged it in my memory. This is a children’s story so… yeah it could be saying a lot of things, but you know how kids are always wishing they were older? I think it’s telling them that when they’re older, they’re going to wish they weren’t!

  7. great!

  8. Just found your blog, this is awesome! Thanks for posting these for everyone :D

  9. COOL!

  10. I agree with Jordan, some of the pinyin is wrong!:(
    But… this is the first time I’m here.

  11. I would never dye my hair!!!!

  12. Reply Gorge Washiington says: April 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I like it!

  13. Reply Stephanie Puk says: April 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Very interesting!!! Great article for children!

  14. Reply Laurence Smith says: April 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Very useful.
    I like the way the pinyin and translation appears over the characters. I find that helps a great deal. You can not get that in books.
    There is a great need for books of graded exercises where there is lots of repetition.
    Other languages have many books to choose from.

    Get publishing!

  15. I am Chinese-American so I enjoy a Chinese story.You did a very good job on translating the story and finding the definition of the characters.

  16. Thanks! very helpful

  17. This is an awesomely helpful web site, and this is a very cute story. Thank you!

  18. 你好!! just wanted to thank you for uploading this stories, it’s really helping me a lot to improve my chinese! 太谢谢你了.

  19. Reply Oh Yonghao says: April 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I learned Chinese in Taiwan so perhaps it is a colloquial difference, but it felt weird seeing the word 让 translated that way. I felt it was more like “let”, as in “let her dye her hair” rather than to ask. I would think 請 would have been a better word to use. Perhaps adding in a 做了之後 to make it read “春天,小草银银請春姑娘把她的头发染成银色。夏姑娘做了之後说:” to emphasize that she actually did dye her hair instead of apologizing that she can’t. This would make the English translation be “After dying her hair the Lady of Summer said:”

    As for Lady of Winter being mean, I’d say they all were if they first tried to dye it and then were like, “oops, got it wrong, turns out I can’t dye it silver.”

    • Reply 红毛鬼子 says: July 17, 2014 at 12:28 am

      I agree. My Chinese teacher was from Taiwan and we were always taught that it mostly meant to ask permission or to be permitted to do something. But it is good to see other ways that words can be used

  20. Reply Scarlett Chew says: June 14, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I wish that grass didn’t dye her hair silver because it hurt her body.
    I am so sad about that story.

  21. Reply Scarlett Chew says: June 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    love that story

  22. Reply Scarlett Chew says: July 25, 2015 at 12:47 am

    I love this story

  23. Reply cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo says: April 21, 2016 at 5:56 pm


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