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Little Grass’ Silver Hair

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.

The 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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小草银银

小草银银喜欢银色。
  春天,小草银银让春姑娘把她的头发成银色。春姑娘说:“对不起,银银,我只能把你的头发染成青色”。银银非常伤心
  夏天小草银银让夏姑娘把她的头发染成银色。夏姑娘说:“对不起,银银,我只能把你的头发染成深绿色”。银银非常伤心。
  秋天小草银银让秋姑娘把她的头发染成银色。秋姑娘说:“对不起,银银,我只能把你的头发染成金黄色”。银银非常伤心。
  冬天小草银银让冬姑娘把她的头发染成银色。冬姑娘说:“好啊,不过你可不要后悔呦”?银银说:“不会的,有了那么漂亮的头发我高兴还来不及呢”!
  就这样银银的头发变成了银色。忽然,银银的头发掉下来了,这是怎么回事呢?原来,头发染多了是会伤害身体的。这下银银真的后悔了。

Show English translation »
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.

40 replies on “Little Grass’ Silver Hair”

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

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

http://www.chinaorb.com/index.php?s_word=%E5%91%A6

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!!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.”

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

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.”

Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a forty
foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
I know this is completely off topic but I had to share
it with someone!

This is a awesome ???? story though I wish I could be better at Chinese 谢谢 and it’s a great ???????? story

THX
(Thanks)

Awesome things here. I am very glad to peer your post.
Thank you a lot and I’m having a look ahead to touch
you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

What!?!? YinYin’s hair fell out! Ridiculous! It should have been covered in snow and become silver. I got so into the story, only to be betrayed by the author.

Still, thanks for providing basic stories. I can barely read it.

Wow thatt was unusual. I just wrote an ncredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, juxt wanted to say fantastic blog!

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