Essay: Papa, Please Don’t Smoke!

In this essay, a child desperately (and very angrily) pleads their father not to smoke. Though this is classified as “Intermediate”, beginners should definitely try this read, leaning heavily on the hover word-list. The difficult parts are the mid-level turns of phrase, which are all explained below.

Couple of grammar points.

First of all: 我本想让您别抽烟. Most of this sentence is quite simple, but the addition of the character 本 can be puzzling, especially since 本 has many meanings. In this case, the word 本 means “originally”, as in “I originally thought to let you not smoke.” Or, in better English, “My original intention was that this would make you stop smoking.”

Another point: When the father learns that his cigarettes are gone, he 东翻西找. This phrase is actually a mixture of two words: 东西 (thing, stuff) and 翻找 (to rummage through things while searching, turn things over). We’ve seen this kind of thing before in previous posts, as with the phrase “仰起头来” in the post Little Dog Wears Shoes. If you let the mental picture kind of wash over you, you get an image of the father turning things over looking for his cigarettes.

A word of interest: 大烟枪. Literally, this word means “big opium pipe” or in more contemporary times can actually mean “big bong”. Colloquially in reference to a person, this means “someone who smokes a lot”, a “heavy smoker”.

Original is here.




Show English translation »
Papa, please don’t smoke! I still remember clearly, that day, I quietly stole your box of cigarettes, and secretly threw them in the trash can, because I was thinking that would stop you from smoking. But who knew, when you returned, and you found out your cigarettes were gone, you rummaged through everything looking for them. When I told you, that it was me who threw them away, you were quite angry, and you ruthlessly scolded me, You bad child! That sentence made me [lit: ‘the me of that time’] feel great pain. I locked myself in my room, and at that time in my heart I thought, You big opium pipe! [Then go ahead and] smoke, smoke, smoke until you die and I won’t care [lit: I won’t pay any attention to you].

Papa, please don’t smoke! I always find that when you go to work, your box of cigarettes is still full of cigarettes, but when you get off work and come back, there are only a few cigarettes left in the box. Every time I see you you’re surrounded by a curling cloud [of smoke], there’s a sour smell in my nose. I worry that your lungs have already been riddled with gaping wounds by the nicotine.

Papa, please don’t smoke! You cough every day, and every day you expectorate. I worry that you will leave us. When you abandon us, then what will we do?

Papa, for your health, and for us, please don’t smoke!

17 replies on “Essay: Papa, Please Don’t Smoke!”

I believe the 东 and 西 in that context refers to direction east and west. Adds definition to the effort spent on searching. 🙂

Thank you so much for doing all this! I really appreciate you taking time to collect the texts and make them so easy to read and study.

Thank you!

In your introductory paragraph you note that the two meanings of 烟枪 “opium pipe” and “chain smoker.” It would probably be more useful to users if your translation incorporated this second meaning, heavy smoker.

鼻子酸酸:when you are about to cry, your nose gets sour; when your lower back is aching, it is sour; and after a long hike your legs are sour. Rather than translate this as sour smell, I would suggest, “My nose tingled [because I was about to cry]”

thanks for all the good work.

Thinking of the child trying to save his father and he got a lot of reasons that could happen a lot in life thanks to people that invent things maybe to try and kill us because drugs do kill you if you don’t quit and poor kid just trying to save his father. Anyways THX ONCE A GAIN

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