Chinese Title: 贪吃的哥哥

Hah! I set out to do a beginner post since I haven’t done one in a while, but no joy, I think I have to classify this as intermediate. Beginners are welcome to try this out, as most of the words are simple and the subject matter is a bit immature (so of course it totally cracked me up), but the issue is that this essay is written by a kid making fun of her older brother for eating too much, and the sentence structure reads like a playground taunt – it sounds like the author used this essay assignment as an opportunity to get back at her brother for something. So it’s very casually written and the sentence structure isn’t book-formal enough to be smooth reading for newbies. Still, if you can get most of the words, which aren’t too hard, you’ll get the drift.

Intermediate Chinese Essays for Children An example of just such an easy-to-figure-out colloquialism is “不嘛,” which means something along the lines of “Nuh-uh!” or “No!” (as in the way a child starts off an argumentative sentence with “No it’s not!” or “No it isn’t!”)

A few things I should cover right out the gate: 红烧排骨和猪蹄 is the name of a dish. 红烧 is a way of cooking a dish where food is slowly simmered in an oily red sauce. On Chinese menus you’ll often see 红烧 followed by many different things. One of my favorites is 红烧茄子 – Eggplant Simmered in Red Sauce. So this dish, 红烧排骨和猪蹄, is spare ribs (排骨) and pig feet (猪蹄) simmered in red sauce (红烧).

One of the more difficult sentences here is 要是换成我吃那么多的话,现在写作文的早就是个饱死鬼了 – there are multiple points of difficulty here.

Let’s break this one down a bit. In the previous sentence, the author is talking about how much her brother can eat. Then she says, 要是换成我吃那么多的话 – the hard part of this is 换成, which means “to switch”, or in this case “to switch positions with someone”. In other words “If (要是) I switched positions (换成) with my brother (‘with my brother’ is implied, not said), and it was me that ate so much (我吃那么多)”…

The sentence continues: 现在写作文的早就是个饱死鬼了. I think the hard part of this is the way 的 is used. Beginning readers expect 的 to either follow a word to make it possessive (我的, 他的), or to show that something’s being described (“红色的箱子”). In this case, the author actually left out the word being described, which is 人. This part could also be written 现在写作文的: or in other words “the person writing this essay right now…” This is a very informal way of talking. We continue: 早就是个饱死鬼了 “Long ago (早) would have become (就是个…了) a full devil (饱死鬼 – someone who has eaten until they are overstuffed – google image result for 饱死鬼 gets us this).

So all together: “If I was the one who’d eaten that much, the person writing this essay [me] would have long ago become overstuffed.”

And one last thing: the older brother at one point calls the author 臭乐乐. I understand this translates to “Stinky Lele!”, so we can assume here that “Lele” is the author’s name. This is probably a girl’s name, so we assume the author is female.

Click to Listen

贪吃 – tān chī – Gluttonous
嗯 – ēn – A groaning sound, in this case because food is good, like “mmm, mmm”
油嘴滑舌 – yóu zuǐ huá shé – Smooth-talking, oily-mouthed
成 – chéng – To turn into
就算 – jiù suàn – Even if
小菜一碟 – xiǎo cài yī dié – Small appetizer
抢 – qiǎng – Snatch
嗝 – – To burp
悲剧 – bēi jù – Tragedy
改掉- gǎi diào – Drop a bad habit



“不嘛,我吃得多证明你菜做得好吃,这是给你面子啊!” 瞧,我那贪吃的哥哥又开始油嘴滑舌了。








“Mmm, delicious, really delicious! [Maternal] grandma, give me another plate of chicken drumsticks!”

“YangYang, you’re already that fat, you should eat less!”

“Nuh uh, [the fact that] I eat a lot only proves that you’re a good cook, this gives you face!” Oh look, there goes my gluttonous older brother smooth-talking again.

“Grandma, tomorrow I want to eat Spare Ribs and Pig Trotters Simmered in Red Sauce!” older brother says loudly.

“Grandma, don’t listen to older brother. All he thinks about all day is eating, he’ll soon turn into a pig,” I say.

“Stinky LeLe, saying I’ll turn into a pig. Aren’t you afraid I’ll teach you a lesson?” older brother says angrily.

Not good, I can’t bear to imagine the consequences of provoking older brother. I get up and run, and older brother scrambles up to chase me, luckily he’s too fat, he can’t run at all, so I quickly lose him.

Before I go to sleep, mother often talks with me about how gluttonous my brother is. One time, [paternal] grandmother was talking with me, saying that older brother eats enough for four people in a single sitting. When he was small it was absolutely no problem for him to polish off two bowls of egg cake in a sitting, even three bowls is just a small appetizer to him. If it was me that ate that much, the person writing this essay would have long ago become a “stuffed devil”.

Older brother is always snatching my food and eating it. One time, when I was in the shower, mother allowed grandmother and all them start eating first. When I was done showering, I found that there wasn’t a trace [of food] left in my bowl, but my brother was off to one side burping with satisfaction, turns out my brother stole my food and ate it. I was so mad, but all I could do is endure it, what a tragedy! God, when is older brother finally going to fix this gluttonous defect?

Not good, older brother just snatched my food again, I’ve got to stop writing, and quickly go protect my meal!

4 comments to "My Gluttonous Elder Brother"

  1. 这个作文很搞笑,哈!谢谢

  2. Thank you for this story! Very funny indeed!

  3. Great site! I have also run into 小菜一碟 in the context of something being “a piece of cake,” or something trivially easy–which indeed is a great Chinese phrase to know..

  4. So nice of him my older brother used to scare me with the vauucm cleaner and bully me.. So they’re not all gems to have around all the time -_- he is much better now so I guess all the torture paid off xD[]

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