References/Languages (cont.d)

Pick up a new word on one exposure like a five year old


The Guardian

  • Amazon shoppers misled by ‘bundled’ star-ratings and reviews
  • Revealed: Spice Girls T-shirts made in factory paying staff 35p an hour
  • Revealed: Disney’s £35 Ariel doll earns a Chinese worker 1p
  • Underpaid and exhausted: the human cost of your Kindle
  • Apple under fire over reports students worked illegal overtime to build iPhone X
  • ‘A zombie party’: the deepening crisis of conservatism (Andy Beckett)
    • the party received twice as much money from dead members, through wills, as from the living. Katy Balls, political correspondent of the usually pro-Tory Spectator magazine, described the Tories last year as “a zombie party”
    • The purpose of Trump’s proposed border wall is less to keep immigrants out – there are countless other entry points – than to keep his base feeling besieged
    • the current conservative intellectual landscape as “a desert”. For years, rightwing politicians and strategists have been wandering it and finding only mirages
    • conservatives had long prided themselves on their attention to facts, to how people actually lived, or wanted to live – rather than trying to build utopias, as they accused the left of doing
    • sense of entropy hangs over the rightwing thinktanks : a lack of order
    • era of conservative bluffing and bodging is coming to an end : bungle
    • the American right will continue to eke out election wins : survive
    • Conservative government now seemed to be as much about sophistry as changing society : fallacious argument
    • a supposed upper-class insouciance : nonchalance
    • looked at Cameron’s slapdash radicalism and shook their heads : careless
    • flabby : soft
    • bend statistics out of all recognition : cf. 面目全非
  • Why I went viral on Twitter after talking about being evicted on Sky News
  • Country pride: what I learned growing up in rural America (Sarah Smarsh)
  • Why I came out as being poor (Stephanie Land)

    Thoughts on Land’s Maid : The rave reviews the book Maid gathered from news outlets like The Guardian caused my expectation of this impending publication to shoot up. After all, the book is supposed to be a public voice of city workers who drudge in economic hardship and battle uphill against political bureaucracy in social services in a country not known for its generosity of welfare programs. There has never been any doubt from a reader’s point of view, about the authenticity of suffering carefully documented by Ms Land over the years, but the way it is presented has clearly been tailored to suit the writer’s very subjective narrative, sometimes inches close to a rank whimper. Contrary to living the marketed singular isolated life as claimed by the author, she has been supplied with devices to secure aid from public offices and from time to time ways to connect to human empathy opened up, consequently love was within arm’s reach, either in person or through technology. Much of her highs and lows was directly hinged on digit flips in a bank account, which essentially reduces a human life to cost and benefit analysis. No wonder the resulting dismissive attitude of Ms Land towards community college education strikes down the entire sector of higher education as not worth the money or effort. To get a degree for the sake of getting of a degree when Ms Land upped herself a rung in the social mobility ladder is not so much different from to receive government aid for the sake of receiving aid when her life as a single mother descended into poverty. Clearly Ms Land has climbed out of the trap of welfare state which she said is designed to fail, however whether or not her newly gained economic upper hand as a writer will chip away her working class root over time, only time can tell.

    • redolent of : reminiscent of
    • caseworker : cf. 居委会大妈
    • fridge door grazes the cupboards : cf.
    • drawn out : cf. mosey around, moon around, putter around
    • stand on one foot with the other tucked into her thigh like a flamingo
    • house on bluffs : cliffs
    • reflection in the mirror showed a rail-thin figure, wearing a kid-sized t-shirt and tight-fitting jeans that I’d rolled up at the bottom to hide that they were too short
    • wafted sound of a guitar : cf. 悠扬的琴声
    • took a drag of cigarette : cf. 吸一口烟
    • heels that clicked across the floor : cf. 拖沓的脚步声
    • a twinge of envy : cf. pang , as in hunger pangs
    • stuff hands into pocket : cf. trouser massive wealth, pocket a trophy
    • hands clasped : cf. 双手交叉
    • upper lick thick with ropes of green snot : cf. 流着清鼻涕
    • waver in being there when they say they will : cf. 说来却没来
    • smitten vs. mitten
    • huff vs. gruff
    • gingerly : cautiously
    • clouds suddenly broke overhead, letting the sun shine : cf. 云开雾散
    • mildew : cf.
    • stumpy tail : cf. 短尾巴
    • pulled at lower lip with teeth : cf. 咬着下唇
    • rubberneck : heads craning out the window to see the damage cf. 车祸看稀奇
    • rickety ladder : cf. 摇摇欲坠
    • gurney : AmE, trolley for moving patients in a hospital
    • choking sob : cf. 抽泣
    • night stretched out before us : cf. 夜幕缓缓降临
    • dark circles : cf. eye bags, puffy eyes
    • shooting pain or tingling sensation : stinging
    • stemmed glasses : cf. 高脚杯
    • someone talked her into buying : cf. 被人忽悠才买的
    • stamp out a cigarette : cf. 抽出一根烟
    • loopy : furious
    • jetted tub : whirlpool tub
    • skim milk : (nearly) no fat milk
    • caused a holdup in the line : cf. 排队的人越积越多
    • flustered : unsettled, ruffled
    • pungent odor : cf. 气味冲人
    • running errands : informal shopping
    • buff : polish
    • on the off chance it rained, we’d stay : cf. 天公不作美
    • flail her arms : wield
    • eyes bright pink and collecting goop in the corners : cf. ear wax
    • scour the grass : search
    • the shape of the tail, fanned into two sections : cf. 分成两半
    • gash : lacerate
    • mangled car : mutilated
    • skid mark : cf. 刹车印
    • hair caked with blood
    • flinched at the thought : cf. 见好就收
    • stress gnawing at stomach : cf. writhe
    • crinkled like discarded tinfoil
    • scratchy classic music : cf. 恼人
    • zeroed in on them : cf. 凑到跟前
    • eyes darting nervously : cf. 眼神飘忽
    • scrunch, crumple, rumple, ruffle : crease
    • frayed hoodie : worn out
    • token single mom : cf. 标准
    • dimples instead of knuckles
    • carpet the ground : cf. 铺满大地
    • ground to a pulp : cf. 打成糨糊
    • chicken coop, goat pen : cf. submarine pen
    • books strewn across the floor : cf. 散落一地
    • just thinking about it gave me heart palpitations : cf. 光想想就够吓人
    • kismet : fate
    • stooping to pick up rubber boots : bend over, cf. 弯腰
    • mountain sloping down below us
    • stone slabs (road) vs. shingles (beach)
  • Liverpool’s waves of red fury and recklessness end in joyous bedlam (Barney Ronay)
    • seething huddles : crowd
    • bunch of mooching, stumbling yellow-shirted spectators : loiter; mooching food, asking for free food
    • a comp ticket : given for free
    • whirled his arm
    • The bench came running on to the pitch. The manager came running on. The players came on.
    • Toes were crushed, shins barked, ankles hacked.
    • Barcelona look like callow, pigeon-chested schoolboys
    • The problem with being a one-man team is when he does not turn up it tends to leave a hole
    • portable pageantry of flags and banners
    • collapsing like a poorly constructed millefeuille : cf. 烂泥墙
  • Gun owners have the taxpayer over a barrel (David Mitchell)
    • fiddling when Rome burns : cf. 火烧眉毛还不着急
    • hands-on for a head of state : cf. 身体力行;事必躬亲
    • brain will conjure up an image : cf. 脑中浮现出
    • be out of pocket by £112,000 : cf. 自掏腰包
    • an argument laced with contempt : cf. caked with
  • My partner is better looking than I am and I worry he’ll leave me (Mariella Frostrup)
    • as profligate a waste of precious time as I’ve encountered to date : repetition of two words of similar meanings as in masochistic pervert
    • as likely to tumble into statistics as anyone else
    • snap up, snare, 折桂 : different “obtain” and snap =
    • focus on finding a centerfold to offer affirmation of own attractiveness
    • a long way down the line of : cf. list of … is endless
    • cataclysm : cf. apocalypse
    • head over heels in love : out of control
  • The Guardian view on the biggest privatisation: the land beneath our feet
    • A new book helps us understand what is happening in Britain today by exposing the scale of the sell-off of the state’s estate … This process has been briefly illuminated by tenacious journalism, such as this week’s story exposing how nine years of swingeing central government cuts to English councils have resulted in a vast and irreversible sell-off of public assets. In many cases local authorities have begun offloading their assets—playing fields, community centres, libraries, youth clubs, swimming pools—to fund redundancies made necessary by Whitehall cuts.
  • North-east England will pay the price for decades of dishonesty about Nissan (David Conn)
    • The pride of the working class used to be self education. It was dignified to be involved with political issues and understand what they were about. Without it, people allowed themselves to be manipulated.
  • The Tories have form when it comes to economic catastrophe (Phillip Inman)
    • economy has taken second place to pride and party loyalty : cf. 退居次席
    • lazily left the fate of steelworkers and coal miners to the vagaries of the job market : cf. 变幻莫测;风云变幻
    • Most British business executives are fixated on monthly production targets, and union representatives are cut from the same cloth : cf. 如出一辙
    • knotty problems : complex
    • overweening executive power : overconfident
    • the skills amount to an A-level in bluffing
    • More broadly, there’s a Cavalier strain that remains lodged in the British DNA despite the more rational, hardworking Roundhead ethic that battles with it for supremacy
    • “Yet we prefer a system where one side dictates the terms” I’m not sure how popular this is but at family parties we always play something called the chocolate game. Everyone sits around a big bar of Dairy Milk and takes it in turns to roll a die. When you hit a six you have to pull on a hat, scarf and gloves, grab a knife and fork and eat as much chocolate as you can before the next person rolls a six, and the challenge passes to them. You continue until the chocolate is gone.

      This is the British political system.

      Our FPTP (first past the post) nonsense encourages a winner takes all attitude, and an alarming short termism to go along with it. Someone is going to roll another six any second now, so you best get as much as possible down your throat while you’re holding the cutlery.

      So now we have Brexit. We have people pushing for no deal because they find themselves against all odds wearing a bobble hat and holding a fork. They don’t know when this opportunity will come along again, so they don’t want to miss the chance to enact a seismic shift in the way our country works.

    • Normal working people are being economically raped and pillaged by the likes kf Rees Mogg and co. Will folks wake up to this before its too late? : pillage, ransack
    • “… The mask indeed has slipped …”

      It took 41 years to be given the chance to actually show that though. Still we gave it a go and still would be if the 2016 referendum had not thrown a spanner in the works : cf. 从中作梗

    • Brown can certainly be faulted for his management of the economy but not on grounds of excessive borrowing. His major fault was weak regulation of the banking sector. But in this, he was part of a consensus that stretched across most Western governments. It would have taken extraordinary courage and confidence to swim against the current on this one : cf. 逆流而上
  • The internet, but not as we know it: life online in China, Cuba, India and Russia
  • The Guardian readers’ comments
    • Cutting immigration to levels demanded by the far-right, as proposed by this legislation will give a boast to organised crime akin to Prohibition in 1920s USA. Where there is an acute need for labour that the local population either can’t or won’t meet, and which the government effectively hinders fulfilling, then criminals will step in. It will be a boom time for people smugglers supplying vulnerable and exploited peoples to where there is greatest need whether it is farms, factories or care homes. Still, taking back control is great though isn’t it!
    • If there are to be food and medicine shortages, it is only right that people who voted Remain should have priority and those who voted Leave get to pick up what’s left. This is, after all, their decision, and “they knew what they were voting for”.
  • Forced to work, and unable to strike: US federal workers need solidarity (Anonymous)
    • In today’s political context, calling our congressional representatives is understood to be even less effective than it’s ever been. The painful and demoralizing truth for us federal workers is that we’ve never had great friends in Congress, no matter how many times we’ve called.
    • Since the 1970s, the erosion of the public sector has been overseen by both parties (one, undeniably, more enthusiastic than the other). And even during the prior decades, when the federal sector was expanding, political leaders of both parties were careful to carve out and preserve exceptions to the rights of public employees. To this day, it is not only illegal for federal workers to strike, but, according to the same statute, it is illegal for us to even assert the right to strike.
  • ‘I’d love to scream at them’: how showroomers became the No 1 threat to bookshops
    • Let’s see how Amazon handles the query: “I don’t know the title or the author, but it came out three months ago and the cover is blue.” : There is a similar rivalry between independent bookshop The Shop around the Corner and mega chain stores Fox Books in You’ve Got Mail, only that it is in a drama.
  • “I felt a moment of complete calm”: how Guardian readers unwind (The Guardian readers)
    • sit on a low hay bale : cf. 草垛
    • listening to the waves crashing against the cliffs below : cf. 惊涛拍案, cf. waves lapping against shore, 冲刷
    • tag along with : BrE, to go somewhere with someone
    • a flask of tea : cf. 一壶茶
    • off-grid : substitute for off-line
  • Don’t blame democracy’s decline on ignorance. The problem lies deeper (Cas Mudde)
    • paradigmatic case : related to paradigm
    • chip away at its liberal foundations : cf. 蚕食
    • ad nauseam : repeat something thousands of times so that it becomes annoying
    • independent media were still alive and kicking : cf. 尚存一线生机
    • “unbreaking news” is a media initiative that brings dot-connecting analysis to daily news reporting
  • My boyfriend and I are well matched, but I just don’t fancy him (Mariella Frostrup)
    • You need to bank blissful days for future retrieval, like stashing an energy bar in your pocket for a long trek : cf. fix the roof when the sun is shining, 未雨绸缪
    • hang in the doldrums : depression
    • a fleeting lover : brief
    • always seems to be on the lookout for the next best thing : cf. 吃着碗里的,望着锅里的
  • Experience: my namesake found me after 24 years (Penny George)
    • out of the blue : informal, an event that occurs unexpectedly
    • travel to Europe, tagging on Scotland at the end to allow …
    • Penny told me that she feels incredibly lucky to have grown up in Canada, surrounded by diversity and acceptance, and that she is grateful to be fluent in English
  • The answer for women who feel worthless is not “you are beautiful” (Calla Wahlquist)
    • If a woman feels unworthy in every area of her life because she has been conditioned from birth that virtue, value, and beauty are synonymous, has internalised misogyny to the degree that she cannot help but project that hatred onto other women who she feels better meet the feminine ideal, she need only find a man who looks past her looks and everything will be fine.
    • Instead ask: who benefits from this system that makes me and everyone I know feel terrible?
    • These responses are intended to be affirming and what they affirm is that beauty is always the goal, it’s just the definition that needs changing. It does not matter if the recipient of these comments is beautiful or not, as Spicer clearly is. What matters is they do not have to be.
    • But if we respond to a woman saying she feels worthless because she is not beautiful by saying that she is beautiful anyway, we are just reinforcing the trap.
  • From freecycling to Fairphones: 24 ways to lead an anti-capitalist life in a capitalist world (John Harris and The Guardian readers)
    • haberdasher : a small shop selling sewing articles; its owner or worker
    • find stuff in skips : skip BrE, a dumpster
    • stained glasses : glasses like church window glasses; not referring to muddy spots studded dirty glasses
    • log burners vs central heating
    • the manufacture of smartphones often looks like a morass of appalling labour standards and toxic materials : !!!
    • Use your TV remote—there is no beating this pearl of wisdom: “Turn the sound down when the adverts are on.”
  • I’m happily married but can’t get someone I met out of my head (Mariella Frostrup)
    • turn a different corner and we never would have met
    • In real life we know what comes next: compromise, responsibility and the daily maintenance required to keep any relationship and later, a family afloat
    • transcendental moments vs. long term unions
    • wandering the ruins of ancient civilizations offers the chance to marvel at what they built but also offers a salutary reminder of what was lost
  • The trouble with getting lost in your own world… (David Mitchell)
    • sciatica : pain in the back, hip and outer side of the leg, cf. sciatic nerve, ocular nerve
    • denying or warping reality
    • universities are becoming bastions of these trigger warnings : cf. bao lei
    • heretical viewpoints are the products of blinkered self-interest : blinkered, narrow-minded
  • Read this and you may never eat chicken again (Maryn McKenna)
    • a low hum of argument and chatter, punctuated by dollies thumping over the curbstones and vendors shouting deals : dolly, a low platform on wheels for moving heavy objects, cf. ban che
    • the funk of bruised cabbage leaves underfoot, the sharp sweetness of fruit sliced open for samples, the iodine tang of seaweed propping up rafts of scallops in broad rose-colored shells : funk, cold sweat, unpleasant smell; tang, flavor; scallop, a shellfish, cf. bei
    • spatchcocked outline : spatchcock, a chicken cut open and cooked under heat
    • skin shatters like mica : (lighting when a chicken is cooked) mica, a mineral that separates into transparent layers of rock, gleam
    • fricassee : a hot dish of meat and veggie served with thick white sauce
    • turn a skittish, active backyard bird into a fast-growing, slow-moving, docile block of protein, as muscle-bound and top-heavy as a bodybuilder in a kids’ cartoon : skittish, playful, lively
    • Tetracycline arrived in 1948, and resistance was nibbling at its effectiveness before the 1950s ended : nibble, erode with small bitings
    • unspooling of antibiotic resistance
    • not to forgo its chance : do without
    • it is additionally like climate change because any action taken in hopes of ameliorating the problem feels inadequate, like buying a fluorescent lightbulb while watching a polar bear drown
    • relinquish, relish, delinquency
    • (farming) chicken, cattle, hogs
    • to care for sick animals, but not to fatten or protect them
  • Is the writing on the wall for Theresa May and Britain? (David Mitchell)
    • … as giving speeches without croaking and phlegming is part of the job … : croak, make a rough low sound (like a frog)
    • … with coughing and spluttering thrown in … : splutter, make a series of short explosive sounds
    • titular head of the government … : titular head, figurehead
    • grisly aesthetic : grisly, gruesome
    • queasy : nauseous
    • risible : laughable
  • Losing my hair at the age of six shaped my life (Matt Lucas)
    • wheeze : breathe noisily, gasp, rasp, croak
    • Ventolin inhaler : a drug used in treatment of asthma, cf. Strepsils, throat sweet
    • this blotchy, dumpy vessel betrayed my boisterous, carefree spirit : blotchy, mottled, dappled, spotted, smudged, splotchy, splodgy
    • … was bent double at the kerb, gasping for air.
    • a source of amusement, sympathy and revulsion
    • traipse down to London : traipse, trudge
    • … was prodded, poked and gazed at …
    • jokey response when in good mood and withering retort when not
    • totter up the road : teeter, shamble, wobble
  • Everybody lies: how Google search reveals our darkest secrets (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz)
    • … they call in sick when they are not; they say they are happy while (down) in the dumps …
    • effective persuading rhetoric for protecting minorities : They are our collegues, our neighbours, our sport stars and men and women in uniform who are willing to sacrifice themselves to defend this country
  • How I caught a serial killer – and lost my career in the police (Tim Lewis)
    • … confession was elicited under duress : duress, coercion
    • I’ve more commendations than you can shake a large stick at : more than shake a stick at, abundantly
    • bears out : it proves true
    • writing (the book) has been cathartic : cathartic, clearing one’s name, emotional release
    • the urgency of his voice galvanised them into action
  • My best friend met the love of her life – and I can’t cope (Dear Mariella)
    • … The depth of a friendship can’t be judged by proximity, the regularity of your communication or occasional disappointments, but by your compatibility and the generosity with which you accept each other’s foibles : foibles, weakness
    • onerous connections : onerous, burdensome
    • battling Canute style against the tides : Canute, used to describe a person who tries to stop something from happening but will never succeed
    • a hamster on a wheel endlessly treading the same space is the definition of hell
    • It’s ironic that the defining feature of all our lives – the inevitability of nothing staying as it is – is what we battle hardest against
  • I’m deeply in love – but terrified of it ending (Mariella Frostrup)
    • … to zoom in on the vagaries of love, an emotional state defined by its ability to elicit moments of unadulterated happiness, or bring us to our knees in pain. Love is exalted because, at its best, it’s an emotion that shows human nature at its most attractive … : vagary, change, cf. variety is the spice of life and vaudeville.
    • Love makes us, however briefly, less self-centered and far more giving. It’s a rare opportunity to taste and understand the possibilities of such benign goodness … No matter what efforts you put in to prolong or police it, what will be will be, as the tune goes. It’s why the best and longest-surviving relationships involve partnership in the best sense, where two people pull together with each other’s best interests at the forefront of their minds, but their individual freedom intact.
    • That requires strength and the ability to walk the world with confidence knowing that on your own you’re a survivor and in partnership your potential may be even greater.
    • Partners will come and go, just as will friends and jobs. What seem like core beliefs to you today will evolve, alter and adapt. We are nourished in fluid during our earliest beginnings and it’s a state we do well to maintain – the ability to drift with life’s currents rather than continually trying to force a set path through unknown territory. The surest way to propel a relationship to its conclusion is to begin cementing it into a permanent, unalterable shape.
    • it’s hard to resist the compulsion to mount barriers around what is good
  • It’s not wrong to fall for someone, but shouldn’t it take years, not months? (Adam Golightly)
    • Jo raises her head from the Aga, raven hair sticking to her flushed face, blue eyes sparkling with the enthusiasm that so characterises her, “Fancy some homemade apple crumble, Adam?”. She’s wildly beautiful, fun and confident : raven hair, black hair
    • living testimony to
    • park the ramblings of emotionally stunted 12-year-old : stunted that has not been able to grow or develop as much as it should
  • Bonfire of the theories: Wolfe battles Chomsky over roots of language (Edward Helmore)
    • arcane study of languages has a new entrant
    • cavorting from one thing to another : cavort, skip, romp, leap
    • excoriation : abrade; to criticise severely
  • When is the right time for a widower’s libido to wake up? (Adam Golightly)
    • It was innocent, with much laughing, many nightcaps, no kissing : nightcap, a drink, usually containing alcohol, taken before going to bed
    • pucker up : pucker, wrinkle, she puckered her lips; pucker-up
    • a tonic to my spinning head : tonic, stimulant
  • Our baby was due in six months. Then my girlfriend said she’d met another man (Liam Blake)
    • whorls in the floorboards : whorl, loop
    • powder blue velour sweatshirt : velour, a plush woven fabric resembling velvet, used for soft furnishings, casual clothing, and hats
    • unconscionable : unethical
    • romper suits : a young child’s one-piece outer garment
    • editing the list of names we’d had percolating for years : percolate, filter as in water percolated through the soil; also as spread as in a few of these technological marvels began to slowly percolate into the countryside
    • periodic rows that pockmarked the end of the first trimester : cf. pockmarked face; scabrous
    • snot and tears
    • a chasm yawned between us
  • Lionel Shriver’s teenage diary: bad spelling and unreturned affections (Lionel Shriver)
    • I scrambled into my attic recently to dig up the damp, furry-cardboard covers of the journals
    • self-excoriating shame : excoriate, abrade
    • woe-mucking about a classmate
    • a girl who flitted from one crush to another : flit, dart
    • wayward leanings : wayward, wilful
    • divulge : disclose
    • of this coming to loggerheads with my parents : loggerhead, at odds with
    • I yearned to fall in love, and constructed a fetishistic, romantic ideal out of one real, perfectly nice, but probably rather ordinary boy
    • high flown histrionics : histrionic, very emotional
  • Harriet Harman, what were you thinking? (Victoria Coren Mitchell)
    • be squarely on my radar : squarely, directly, straight
    • missed a central plank of the story
    • a visible obsession with the trappings of wealth
    • slough off : get rid of
  • Why elected leaders ought to make the big decisions (David Mitchell)
    • a wondrous epiphany : wonderous is not a word
    • looking to MPs to display great intelligence, insight, fortitude or a cool head in a crisis
    • marinated in cynicism : marinate, souse, soak, drench, cf. yan zhi
    • lopsided friendship : lopsided, one-sided
    • this shrinkage is better thought of as a winnowing, as we zero in on those friendships that are actually reciprocated : winnow, separate (out), cf. minnow; zero in on, target at
  • Eric Cantona: I love José Mourinho but he is not Manchester United (Owen Gibson)
    • guff : foolish talks or ideas
    • to a tee : exactly
    • mercurial (of a person) : cf. shan bian
    • feeling never wavered : waver, flicker, glimmer
    • his imperial phase in England straddled the dawn of the Premier League era : straddle, place legs wide apart
    • … few are willing prod and probe on whether modern football has lost something along the way …
    • Looking back on his own football career, it doesn’t rankle that he never lit up the biggest stage for his country : rankle, cause resentment to
  • I have three seconds before she draws blood: life with extreme eczema (Maggie O’Farrell)
    • … she screams, she writhes, she tears at her skin, her handcoverings, her clothing: writhe, squirm, twist
    • sudden bouts of auto-scratching
    • lacerated skin : cf. pockmarked, scabrous
    • A week later, Astrid’s skin was peeling off in strips, like dried glue. The cuffs of jackets seemed too harsh for the petal delicacy of her; the circle backs of poppers and the undersides of zips were a metallic outrage, printing her with red, raw lesions : popper, BrE, snap, AmE, means press stud; lesion, wound
    • as if the eczema is a synecdoche for Astrid herself : synecdoche, a word or phrase in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, as in England lost by six wickets (meaning “the English cricket team”).
    • (eczema) a fluid, febrile force : febrile, feverish
    • a constant presence, like tinnitus or background music: tinnitus, ringing or buzzing in the ears
    • (wounds) septic : inflected
    • miffed older sibling : miffed, annoyed
    • emollient : palliative
    • It is a long shot, I know, but we have to try it. At this point, I am the definition of desperate. I would hang upside down from a tree in the moonlight, chanting spells, if there was even the slightest chance it might work.
    • so solid, it bends a spoon
  • Kate Beckinsale: Our phones were tapped by spooks when we were growing up (John Patterson)
    • familiar whiff of “doomed bourgeois in love”
    • bristle, brittle
    • Lady Susan is the titular heroine of an Austen fragment, a 60-page epistolary novella that went unpublished in her lifetime
    • desperation to find good husbands for herself and her child is mixed with a beguiling slyness and cast-iron self-assurance
  • Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems (George Monbiot)
    • attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty : inimical, harmful
    • the inexorable rise of crime : inexorable, relentless, unstoppable
    • pike and minnows : big fish and little fish
    • charge iniquitous rates of interest : iniquitous, unfair
    • workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring : pettifogging, old-fashioned too concerned with details
    • The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use
    • privatised services make stupendous fortunes : stupendous, colossal
    • disparaged by: devalued by
    • cajoling : cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them
    • conceal more than elucidate
    • tax arrangements that bamboozle governments : bamboozle, to trick someone
    • if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident
  • Why the super-rich won’t live in a house fit for a king (David Mitchell)
    • you’re immediately basking in other people’s dislike
    • raise the hackle or hackle raising : hackle, erectile hair along the neck and back especially of a dog, cf. maogu songran
    • coppers : BrE coins of not much value
    • minstrel : a musician or a singer in the Middle Ages
    • onyx, granite and marble
    • I reflected as I wrung the snobbish spittle out of my beard : wring, twist, extract; spittle, spit
    • tacky : cheap bad made or lacking in taste, cf. gaudy
    • brim with rage : brim, full of
    • lichen tempers its frowning crenellations into a smile
    • brand new, as gleaming and modern as
  • From oddballs to Indiana Jones: my online search for love (Stella Grey)
    • roll up my sleeves
    • I trawled the sites for men to talk to : trawl, fish with a trawl net; search thoroughly
    • I bent over backwards to be liked
    • being guilty of ventriloquism, speaking out of puppet versions of ourselves
    • a paunchy, wild-haired academic : pot belly
    • I fell deep into a pit of infatuation
    • pillock : a stupid person
    • At times, online dating was just too hard. It rocked my confidence. It caused deep new wells of anxiety to be dug
    • twiddle your toes : twiddle, fiddle
    • a bistro : a small inexpensive restaurant
    • be pithy rather than gushing : succinct
  • Public ownership of Tata Steel could work–just look at Rolls-Royce (Larry Elliott)
    • bail out lame ducks
    • the peak period for intervention were between 1971 and 1977, straddling administrations headed by Heath, and Labour’s Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan
    • one-word rejoinder : rejoinder, answer


Usage of any copyrighted material here is personal and for language study only.

Alice Munro

  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)
    • frizz of reddish hair : curl
    • the heft of the Dutch women : AmE weight
    • berth of a Sleep (train) : bunk, bed
    • scalloped necklines : decorate the edge with small curves
    • peek all you want to, it’s a case of a sow’s ear : cf. make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    • dinky little velvet buttons
    • the kind of soft-soaping Johanna would have felt bound to scoff at : cf. 溜须拍马
    • cut off the sales spiel : cf. the German Spiel
    • wheezy old half cripple
    • her purchase stowed away : stashed away
    • smart aleck : smarty pants
    • hands clasped behind his back
    • spruce up : groom oneself
    • splattered with pigeon droppings
    • a desperate, wheedling tone mixed in with some arrogance : coax
    • straggly, uncombed, dyed hair : untidy
    • How can you get blood from a stone? (When Mr. McCauley was asked to report the event to the police)
    • hand in glove : in collusion, cf. 沆瀣一气
    • muck up : mess up
    • sententious (remarks) : moralizing
    • gabbled away softly in a nonsense language : jabber
    • her hair was cut shorter and fluffed around her face
    • lying limp on the couch
    • rock back and forth
    • ministration of kind hands : succour, aid
    • raggedy thin-leaved cottonwoods
    • clumps of brown grass : cluster
    • one word in neon tubing
    • hack up : cough up
    • a ball of twine : cf.
    • a shifty friend : evasive
    • a flighty person : fickle, flippant

    Quotations from the book

    The person she really reminded him of was a plainclothes nun he had seen on television, talking about the missionary work she did somewhere in the jungle—probably they had got out of their nuns’ clothes there because it made it easier for them to clamber around. This nun had smiled once in a while to show that her religion was supposed to make people happy, but most of the time she looked out at her audience as if she believed that other people were mainly in the world for her to boss around.

    Even when she was younger she could never have contemplated such extravagance, not just in the matter of money but in expectations, in the preposterous hope of transformation, and bliss.

    High heels, thin ankles, girdle so tight her nylons rasped, gold hair skinned back from her made-up face.

    “It’s very fine wool.” The woman monkeyed around till she found the label, then read off a description of the material that Johanna wasn’t really listening to because she had caught at the hem to examine the workmanship.

    …she felt a chill from her past, an invasive alarm. She tried to bang a lid down on that, but it wouldn’t stay.

    He had not been drummed out of the peacetime Air Force, but had resigned out of loyalty to the friend who had been hauled up for offering insults to the C.O. at a mess party.

Travel and Fotografie


  • Denis Healey: Best Prime Minister Labour Never Had? originally aired on 7 Oct, 2015
  • Negate or not

    There are words in the English language that after “negation” they could still mean more or less the same meaning as before. For example, shameful and shameless, ravel and unravel, passion and impassioned, privation and deprivation, uncategorical and categorical.

  • Words
    • European peregrinations : cf. 周游列国
    • a different strain of flu
    • a limbo contest, who can set the [politics] bar the lowest and still get under it
    • swept up on a tide : cf. 随大流
    • fraying public services : unravelling
    • unrelenting grip : cf. 不肯撒手
    • walk up two flights of stairs : cf. 一次上两个台阶
    • Chelsea and Arsenal into Europa League final as English teams seal full house : cf. 包圆儿
    • slag off : cf. 中伤
    • Farage doused with milkshake : cf. 被扔
    • repellent, revolting, repulsive, repugnant : all these re- words mean the same thing
    • half-remembered anecdotes : cf. 记忆模糊的传言
    • Whig history on steroids, repackaged as a mirthless morality tale for the 21st century : mirthless, humourless
    • played straight without canned laughter : laugh track
    • hazmat suit : haz(ardous) mat(erials) suit, cf. 防护服
    • somebody lets slip something : cf. 说漏嘴
    • a flying kick : cf. 一记飞腿
    • doyen : the most respected experienced of a group
    • ancestral home : cf. 祖上来自
    • a slight man : a slight figure, slim
    • reprise vs. reprisal : reprise simply means repeat but reprisal means retaliation, derived from literal meaning tit for tat
    • poodle (man) : a womaniser
    • pussy (man) : cf. 像个娘儿们
    • not the only arrow in his quiver : with more than one skill
    • a cut below : next tier
    • take shallowness to a new depth
    • sell us down the river
    • witter on Labour being a threat to national security : prattle
    • consort in secret with foreign power : cf. 勾结境外势力
    • a clueless fireplace salesman who has jumped over his stature
    • kangaroo court : try someone as guilty without prominent evidence
    • support for empire inveigled into popular culture : cf. soft-soap
    • éminence grise : cf. 垂帘听政
    • up to one’s ears/eyes/neck in British imperialism : deeply involved
    • come in for criticism : be the object of a reaction
    • arm raised to reveal a dark tuft : tussock (armpit)
    • wonky teeth : crooked
    • indentured Chinese workers in South Africa : cf. 华工
    • inarticulate with rage : cf. 语无伦次
    • airy dismissal
    • brash and vulgar parvenu
    • invertebrate performance : cf. 没骨气
    • Huawei snapping at Samsung’s heels in pursuit of new category of folding phones : cf. 紧随其后
    • spouting blood : cf. 飙血
    • upward-spurting pints
    • a fug of firework smoke
    • pirouette : spin, cf. silhouette
    • a pyramid of silent angst
    • urban regeneration : gentrification, cf. 城市改造
    • Daei found himself bottom of pecking order : a social system where everyone knows his place
    • caper in the streets : cf. 载歌载舞
    • scrounger vs. scoundrel : beggar vs. fraudster
    • authorities exhorted us to inform on our neighbours
    • vulture capitalists trouser massive profits
    • those days are as distant in time for today’s young as early 1930s for those who came of age when Wilson was PM for the second time in 1974
    • truck rumbling down the street : cf. 轰隆隆, cf. chugging on 嘟嘟嘟
    • deck someone : informal, know down
    • a forlorn hope : hopeless
    • swingeing tax on fossil fuels : severe
    • meat that is an unexpected hue would typically raise an eyebrow
    • (here in Allianz) Real Madrid cuffed aside, Juventus digested and Arsenal tossed around the pitch like a team of Lego men
    • leapt and pranced : cf. 欢呼雀跃
    • dinked the wonderful finish into the corner : drop ball
    • thousand yard stare : the unfocused gaze of a detached soldier
    • thumped up : cf. 被暴打
    • I would not count chickens yet : count chicken, it depends on something really good to happen
    • muck in : share with other people
    • (people) of note
    • (something fell apart like) a damp slice of bread
    • knotted nature of hierarchy
    • a cold hard sunlit day
    • Sweet Caroline parped around stands : cf. 叭叭
    • Arsenal make up 9 points on Spurs since Valentine’s Day
    • guff said about a person : nonsense
    • he would be bonkers to get back
    • tube like body : cf. 水桶身材
    • food giants gobble up family farms : big businesses take control of the smaller ones
    • rank nonsense : downright
    • increasing vanity, growing distance from those he claims to represent
    • on the up : cf. on the rise
    • bear out ideas, opinion etc. : back up
    • did a sterling job : with quality, a good job
    • gallows fatalism
    • May has no soul, and only the desiccated remnant of a heart, rustling inside her empty husk
    • cascading hair : cf. 长直发
    • buxom lady : cf. 大胸女
    • shorn of confidence : deprived of
    • snapped back : retort
    • he scuttles up and down the right, a cherished talent who suddenly finds himself without a natural berth : cf. 上蹿下跳; berth, doesn’t mean bunk here, but place
    • snuff him out : defeat him completely
    • opponents having long since cottoned on to how they can nullify his side : informal catch on, understand
    • a loony old trot : pony, crib
    • garrotte : cf. 勒死
    • zilch : nothing
    • a stool pigeon : an informer, cf. 线人
    • one in four people report better sleep when they sleep alone, which does make some sense, given there is no risk of duvet larceny by your other half, or disruptive snoring : duvet theft
    • the rhetoric in its love-hate war of ideologies, between a haughty capitalist lady of leisure and a spiky communist deckhand on her yacht
    • not intended as some form of competitive countdown : cf. 排名不分先后
    • a barrel of laughs : very amusing
    • head gears : bobble hat (for winter), beret (painter), sou’wester (Kurosawa’s wiki portrait), panama (cf. caomao), trilby (George Galloway), cloth cap (Miliband’s caricature), bowler derby (Chaplin’s mime), sombrero (Mexican)
    • bungled operation vs. garbled message
    • bundled up against cold weather : cf. 蜷缩成一团
    • a rash of incidents
    • EU have bent over backwards to accommodate the UK since we joined in 1973 countless opt outs and special treatment : try one’s hardest
    • delusional empire superiority
    • disowning their own failures as third rate cabinet ministers
    • a cathartic Chilcot style inquiry : purifying
    • pay a price both financially and custodially : cf. 牢狱之灾
    • Yakuza, inside the syndicate : cf. 团伙
    • parlous situation : humorous
    • she would have aged like milk and by this time, she would have looked like a pufferfish
    • Botox : cf. face lift 拉皮
    • a woman of presence : aura, showing authority and self-confidence
    • less accomplished persons feel threatened by towering intellects and the lowest of the low seek to degrade them
    • he comments on things in depth and in the most entertaining way, completely off the cuff : impromptu
    • it makes me laugh from my guts : cf. 笑断肠子
    • Facebook’s patchy attitude to fake news : inconsistent, insufficient
    • a funny show congealed into a one-sided preach fest : coagulate, clot
    • a whip comprises a sturdy piece of fashioned wood, bulbous at one end, attached with four knotted strands of rope at its tapered extremity
    • shot full of holes like a thin slice of Swiss cheese : cf. 被打成筛子
    • shitcreek coral : trapped in an unpleasant situation
    • skulking in a barrel : hiding, lurking
    • (gun) firing blanks : cf. 放空枪
    • separate the wheat from the chaff : cf. 筛选
    • average mass produced dross : BrE, cf. chaff
    • commensurate wage hike : matching pay rise
    • on two sticks : from devil on two sticks. She’s the biggest liar on two sticks.
    • tarred and feathered : punished. There’s a sense of relief that you can talk about things like periods or pubic hair and share them and not get tarred and feathered.
    • chip on/off one’s shoulder : readiness/or not to take offence. The Speaker didn’t hear Dennis call this Nationalist maggot a ‘piece of shit’, whereas he called Cameron ‘Dodgy Dave’ during an open debate and repeated it when asked to retract. There’s a big difference, so get the fucking chip off your shoulder.
    • knacker’s yard : BrE old-fashioned, too old to be useful; complete failure. If Corbyn wins a general election we can insist on a second referendum because this man will send the UK to the knacker’s yard.
    • a blithering idiot : cf. a dithering leadership
    • May has to go. Her incompetence is off the incompetence scale
    • wind somebody up : cf. 逗你玩儿
    • spur of the moment : on impulse
    • intact is not an antonym of tact, e.g., in tactful
    • find rare moments of calm in a season of flux : continuous change
    • vanishingly unlikely event
    • Jürgen nips in ahead of other players : cut short
    • be back at square one : cf. 打回原地
    • pissing Manchester rain : cf. creeping willows
    • wrenching changes
    • ringing endorsement
    • Sterling zips down to the left : cf. 溜向边线
    • love is the currency you can give to anyone in the world while profound stupidity and outright falsehood is the only currency circulated by Fox News
    • Flake folded like a cheap suit on Kavanaugh vote : cf. cave in
    • by dint of : by means of
    • Democrats romp to a win in Guam : sail
    • a door left ajar : cf. 半掩着
    • marquee player fund : cf. 杰出基金
    • public officials put on a public face in order to mask their intentions : cf. 假正经
    • fiendishly clever : cf. dizzyingly smart
    • the scale of crimes began to outstrip the documentary’s ability to record them : outrun
    • (rocks) to skim across the water : cf. 打水漂
    • a commuter wedged on a rail train : cf. 挤公交
    • a cornucopia of delights : cf. 富饶
    • it stirs not a single pang of envy : cf. 一丝嫉妒
    • hair raising experience : cf. 毛骨悚然, hackle raising
    • lynch somebody : lynch, (of a group of people) kill (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging; cf. 凌迟
    • accurst : archaic spelling of accursed
    • foreboding : foreboding, apprehension; forebode, foreshadow, something bad might happen
    • volition : of one’s own accord; related to voluntary
    • a tapestry of mendacity : outright falsehood
    • murky legal system : cf. 昏暗法制
    • meet target in a canter : cf. 白驹过隙
    • paddle misbehaving children : cf. 戒尺
    • buck passing : dodging responsibilities, cf. 踢皮球
    • grist to the mill : something that is useful in a particular situation
    • flaunt the law : cf. flout, 知法犯法
    • sultriness in the atmosphere : cf. 风骚
    • Latin doggerel : cf. 打油诗
    • a courteous host : cf. 客套
    • Australia get off the mark : to start scoring, especially in cricket
    • languid gait : walk, stride
    • May’s NHS pledge decried as sticking plaster : it refers the mess of austerity years that cannot mended by so called post-EU windfall
    • Travolta’s screen portrayal takes quite a pelting : hit by a bomb
    • wrecking ball Chris Chope vs up skirting bill : heavy metal ball that swings from a crane to knock a building down.
    • Xhaka ready to lock horns with Neymar : to get involved in an argument
    • a bevy of beauties : a group of beautiful young women
    • glamour outside, misdemeanor inside : cf. 金絮其外,败絮其中
    • someone ponders life beyond his profession
    • sweep up awards : cf. clear up below
    • even an olive branch cannot end the froideur : coolness or reserve between people
    • long, wavy, obsidian hair : dark, hard like volcanic rock
    • fiery red hair
    • they were given an inch and took 100 miles : cf. 得寸进尺
    • remain foolishly frit of spectres of invading foreign hordes : frit, prepare by heat the materials for glass
    • Gove, and other reprobates, will do their best to undermine Labour’s change in policy : reprobate, rogue; cf. oafish
    • utterly sloshed : used for celebration
    • Team Norway clear up the traditional sports events in Winter Olympics in which Team America rarely catch a whiff of the podium : clear up, see sweep up above, here cf. hengsao
    • gentle billows of smoke : cf. 袅袅炊烟; her dress billows out around her
    • the first tranche of Premier League TV packages : tranche, one part of a number of shares
    • enduring tendrils of the declining British empire : tendril, cf. 藤蔓
    • sling out vs. stamp out : stamp out, stop bad from happening
    • moral pygmies : little men
    • clutching at straws : out of desperation when drowning
    • a mixture of genuine antiquity, in manner and values, and confected confidence : confect, preserve; put together from varied material
    • a deftly spun yarn (rave review for the film Phantom Thread)
    • The sight of the PM grovelling around the world because the Brexit Britain is now secondary to the biggest players in the world, the EU, US and China, is not very edifying.
    • Toys in hands, ambition wanes : cf. 玩物丧志
    • pedigree vs. perigee vs. pilgrimage
    • mosquito magnet: cf. 招蚊子
    • frail in body but mentally alert
    • retained the sense of curiosity
    • Aqua, grown out of Blue, excels in its own right : cf. 青出于蓝胜于蓝
    • offhand remark : offhand, casual
    • (pasta) angel hair : cf. () 龙须
    • how Guy Fawkes ignited an explosive literary legacy
    • chalk it up to experience : informal to accept a failure or disappointment calmly and regard it as an experience that you can learn something from
    • dismissed as tripe : tripe, nonsense
    • flack : criticism
    • bandy : curved legs such that knees are far apart
    • inured to : accustomed to, newspapers so often bandy about the million unit that readers can get inured to its true significance
    • warts and all : idiom informal unvarnished, including features or qualities that are not appealing or attractive, Philip must learn to accept me, warts and all
    • demure : (of a woman or her behaviour) reserved, modest, and shy, a demure little wife who sits at home minding the house, cf. 矜持
    • the coach rails at scandalous penalty decision : rail, protest
    • comport : to behave in a particular way, she always comports herself with great dignity
    • adjudicate : to settle judicially
    • rube : AmE informal bumpkin
    • hick : cf. rube
    • the crumbling of old political shibboleths : shibboleth : formal an old idea
    • giddy : dizzy; too excited; old-fashioned not serious
    • dour : (of a person) not pleasant, unfriendly
    • thrice : three times
    • huckster : a person who uses aggressive or annoying methods to sell something; costermonger
    • dash the (lingering) hopes of the last minute compromise
    • intransigent : stubborn
    • by dint of : by means of
    • fulcrum : cf. 支点
    • leave in droves
    • doozy : AmE informal something that is very special and unusual
    • ruff : a ring of coloured or marked feathers or fur around the neck of a bird or an animal, cf. frill
    • beset by : plagued by
    • raffish, rakish : both mean (BrE) louche
    • the house teemed with ardent Trots
    • While your endeavours to put this into a logical narrative are appreciated, I keep thinking of a tornado that has swept up all the barnyard animals in its vortex, has them swirling around in the air, and we’re trying to predict which one will eventually land in the barn
    • Labour makes inroads : make inroads into/on, achieve something by reducing the power of something else, e.g., This deal is their first major inroad into the American market
    • no sooner inaugurated
    • left the world agog : agog, eager
    • glitz : the quality of appearing very attractive, exciting and impressive, in a way that is not always genuine
    • snooty reviews : snooty, arrogant
    • craven capering : caper, informal an activity, especially one that is illegal or dangerous
    • senile movie star : cf. senile dementia, a comment from Conte on Murinho
    • studiedly low profile : studied, deliberate
    • shire Tories vs. citizens of the world : shire Tories, cf. squire 乡绅
    • back at the cadet stage : younger
    • celebrate with a sherry : sherry, a strong brown wine
    • 596 entries were whittled down to five shortlists : whittle down, reduce to
    • fiendishly difficult puzzles
    • a milling crowd : milling, (of people) moving around in a large mass, cf. bustling crowd. no one is milling about in the lobby
    • teeming with : being full of, cf. seethe
    • seething with : boiling with, cf. teem
    • revel in : enjoy
    • swear off : renounce
    • Paddington bear pitches up today : pitch up, BrE turn up, show up
    • hit it off with someone : hit if off with informal be naturally friendly or well suited
    • beyond reproach : perfect, blameless
    • obstreperous : unruly; unruly hair but obstreperous customers
    • Bottled water companies have helped reinforce existing hydration misinformation through exaggerated health marketing, and we lap it up. The consumption of bottled water has shot up
    • cut into silt
    • broiler : AmE a broiler chicken



Usage of any copyrighted material here is personal and for language study only.


It is a German text project created by Prof Bruce Duncan and his colleagues based at Dartmouth College. See Annotext website for details.

Heinrich Böll

  • The Train Was on Time (1949)

    Der Zug war pünktlich, Melville House, erratum

    • slowly the light bgean to face … : should be “began”.

    Quotations from the book

    He grasped his pack, boarded the train through the nearest door, let down the window from inside, and leaned out, while overhead the resounding voice hung like a cloud of mucus: “The train is now leaving.…”

    Somewhere in the distance searchlights were raking the sky, like long spectral fingers parting the blue cloak of the night … from far away came the firing of antiaircraft guns … and those darkened, mute, somber houses.

    and his heart missed a beat as if an artery had twisted itself into a knot, blocking off the blood.

    Anyone who talks about winning a war must already be considering the possibility of losing one. Once we start a war, that war is won.

    That voice inside him, that wakeful, sensitive voice, oscillated and trembled like a compass needle which cannot settle.

    Many people are like that, an object suddenly becomes valuable to them because someone else would like to have it. An object that the very next moment they might throw away becomes precious and valuable and they wouldn’t dream of selling it, just because someone else would like to own it and use it.

    How sad. If only somewhere a girl would think of me! Even if she were unhappy. God is with those who are unhappy. Unhappiness is life, pain is life. It would be nice if somewhere a girl were thinking of me and crying over me … I would pull her after me … I would drag her along behind me by her tears, she shouldn’t wait for me for ever and ever. There’s no such girl. A strange thought. No girl I’ve kissed. It’s just possible, though not probable, that there is one girl who still thinks of me; but she can’t be thinking of me.

    It ran into him like sharp fire, driving his blood around as fire under a kettle brings water to the boil.

    the word was like a snake with tiny feet and shaped like a knife, a snake with glittering eyes gliding smoothly over the ground and slicing, slicing the ground in two.

    His finger with its flat, still glossy, blue-sheened nail filled the whole bay between Odessa and the Crimea.

    The blond fellow went on playing his swampy melodies that wafted dreamily into them like drugs …

    And in Paris I abused a whore. In the middle of the night, that was awful. It was cold, and she accosted me … she practically assaulted me, and I could see from her fingers and the tip of her nose that she was chilled to the marrow, shivering with hunger. I felt quite sick when she said: “Come on, dearie,” and I pushed her away, although she was shivering and ugly and all alone on that great wide street, and she might have been glad if I had lain beside her in her pitiful bed and just warmed her up a bit. And I actually pushed her away into the gutter and spat out abuse after her. If I only knew what became of her that night. Perhaps she drowned herself in the Seine because she was too ugly to get a nibble from anyone that night, and the terrible part is that I wouldn’t have treated her so badly if she had been pretty.… If she had been pretty I might not have been so disgusted by her profession and she wouldn’t have been pushed into the gutter and I might have been quite glad to warm up beside her and do some other things too. God knows what would have happened if she had been pretty. It’s a terrible thing to maltreat a person because that person seems ugly to you. There are no ugly people. That poor soul.

    There are such an infinite number of ways to die. You can also be shot by a sergeant major for refusing to do what the blond fellow did; you can die any way you like, and the letter will always say: He fell for Greater Germany.

    Her narrow, sharp-featured face with the gray, indeterminate eyes was made up, very discreetly made up.

    It’s always a good idea to start with yes. You can always say no later. If you say no right off, your chances of doing business are nil.

    It was like a tower that was spiraling upward from within, piling level upon level. The tower grew and pulled him with it, as if it had been hurled up from the bowels of the earth by a gushing spring that was fiercely shooting its way past the gloom of centuries into the light, into the light. An aching happiness filled him as, against his will yet knowingly and consciously, he was borne upward on level after level of that pure, upthrusting tower; as if borne on a cloud of fantasy, wreathed in what seemed a weightless, poignant felicity, he was yet made to experience all the effort and all the pain of the climber; this was spirit, this was clarity, little remained of human aberration; a fantastically clean, clear playing of compelling force.

  • And Never Said a Word (1953)

    McGraw-Hill Paper Edition 1979.

    Quotations from the book

    But Mrs. Franke is not like that, she is garrulous and lively, devoid of tenderness. She comes from an old merchant family in the city which has been changing the commodities of their trade from generation to generation, advancing to ever more precious ones: from oil, salt, and flour, from fish and cloth, they progressed to wine, then they went into politics, sinking from there to real estate, and nowadays I sometimes think they are trading in the most precious commodity of all: God.

    Only on rare occasions does Mrs. Franke show any tenderness: primarily when she speaks of money. She says the word with a tenderness that frightens me, the way some people utter the words Life, Love, Death, or God, gently, with a tinge of awe in their voices. The brilliance of her eyes dims a little, and her features become younger when she speaks of gold and of her jars of preserves, both being treasures she won’t allow to be violated. Fear grips me sometimes when I am in the cellar to fetch coal or potatoes, and I happen to hear her counting the jars down there: in a low, soft voice, murmuring, chanting the numbers like the cadences of a secret liturgy, and her voice reminds me of the voice of a nun at prayer—and often I abandon my pail, fleeing upstairs to hold my children close, sensing that I have to protect them from something.

    I was too tired and too desperate to go and see all those people I could ask for money, so I thought I would phone them, those that had a phone. Sometimes on the phone I manage to imbue my voice with that casual note that enhances ones credit, the secret being that when genuine need is audible in a voice, visible in a face, it tightens the purse string.

    I don’t understand how Fred can get so furious about the noise the children make. They’re so quiet. When I stand by the stove or at the table, they’re often so quiet that I suddenly turn around in a panic to make sure they’re still there.

    It makes me cry because their eagerness reminds me of the eagerness of children I hated when I was in school—those children are so like the Child Jesus in pictures of the Holy Family, playing beside Joseph’s carpentry bench, mild, gentle curly haired creatures, eleven or ten years old, casually dropping long curling wood shavings through their fingers. Wood shavings that exactly match their own curly locks.

    “The lucky ones,” he said, “were those who did not love each other when they got married. It is terrible to love each other and to get married.”

    All of them were right, and I was wrong, but none of them knew, not even Käte, how much I really longed for my children, for Käte too, and there were moments when I believed that I was right and all the others were wrong because they all could express themselves so well, and I could never find the words.

  • The Clown (1963)

    Ansichten eines Clowns, Melville House, erratum

    • Brühl scowled at my father, than glanced… : should be “then”. This typo didn’t exist in the first edition, McGraw-Hill.
    • 5 to : 5 minutes before “8 o’clock”, missing. German original is fünf vor acht. This typo also existed in the first edition, McGraw-Hill.
    • they have no business to [?] and they should be able to understand… : either something is missing after “to” or “to” is redundant. German original is sie dürften keinen haben, they may have none.
    • through everything was well lit up… : should be “though”. German original is obwohl. This typo didn’t exist in the first edition, McGraw-Hill.

    Quotations from the book

    I leaned against a cigarette vending machine and glanced across to the building in which my grandfather had presented me with an apartment; tasteful units dovetailed nicely into one another, the balconies painted in discreet colors; five floors, five different colors for the balconies; on the fifth floor, where the balconies are all painted terra cotta, is my apartment.

    I believe that the living are dead, and that the dead live, not the way Protestants and Catholics believe it.

    I knew, of course, that such things as marriage license offices existed and that certain marriage ceremonies took place and documents were issued there, but I thought that was something for people who didn’t go to church and for those who as it were wanted to give the state a little treat.

    She walked up and down by the foot of the bed and every time she gesticulated she jabbed the air so precisely with her cigarette that the little smoke clouds looked like full stops.

    He had always declared himself to be an enthusiastic admirer of my art—and anyone familiar with our profession knows that even the tiniest scrap of praise from a stagehand makes us nearly burst with pride.

    He was a bore and seemed firmly determined to rest on the laurels he had acquired from the sensational fact that he was a convert and a member of the Socialist Party; he smiled, was friendly, and yet his rather prominent eyes always seemed to be saying: Look at me, it’s me!

    One thing is certain, anyone who collects art is not an artist

    There’s nothing more depressing for people than a clown they feel sorry for. It’s like a waiter coming up in a wheelchair to bring you your beer.

    The irritation in voices was subdued, never personal; only sometimes it strayed from the smooth curve and scratched notches in the neighbors’ sky, always from trivial causes, never from the true ones: when a saucer shattered, a rolling ball broke off flowers, gravel from a child’s hand was tossed onto car paint, newly washed, newly ironed laundry wetted by garden hoses—then voices become shrill which are not permitted to become shrill when it’s a matter of betrayal, adultery, abortion.

    Many a blind man acts the blind man though he really is blind.

    He was not a realist, and I wasn’t either, and we both knew that the others in all their triteness were realists, stupid as puppets which touch their collars a thousand times without ever discovering the string they are dangling on.

    Another thing the emigrants don’t know is that not many Nazis were sent to the front, most of those who fell were the others, Hubert Knieps, who lived next door to the Wienekens, and Günther Cremer, the baker’s son, although they were Hitler Youth leaders they were sent to the front because they “didn’t toe the line” and would have nothing to do with all that disgusting snooping. Kalick would never have been sent to the front, he toed the line then the way he toes the line today, a born conformist. The whole thing was quite different from the way the emigrants see it. Of course they can only think in terms of guilty, not guilty—Nazis, non-Nazis.

    I also wondered if I really ought to sing the Litany of Loreto; better not: someone might get the idea I was a Catholic, they would proclaim me as “one of ours,” and it might turn out to be a nice bit of propaganda for them, seeing how they use everything “to serve their own ends,” and the whole thing would be confusing and misleading, the fact that I wasn’t a Catholic at all but merely found the Litany of Loreto beautiful and sympathized with the Jewish girl it was dedicated to, nobody would understand that either, and by some means or other they would discover a few million catholons in me, haul me before TV cameras—and the stocks would go even higher.

Marion Poschmann

  • The Pine Islands (2017)

    Die Kieferninseln – Roman (German) and English version The Pine Islands translated by Jen Calleja.

    • inane expression : silly
    • the head teacher, a grouchy macho kind of guy : grumpy aggressive
    • ride out the storm until
    • as if someone had poured a bucket of balm over him
    • with unsettling efficiency : unflagging
    • he didn’t know how to schmooze : cf. 搬弄是非
    • foolhardy : reckless
    • wrung the flannel around his wrists : cf. 敷子
    • respite : rest
    • The mighty Ob River with its many streams nobly snaked its way through the swamplands and forests : cf. 蜿蜒
    • an avowed nation of tea : asserted
    • out of spite : cf. 不怀好意
    • the green tea lying heavily in his stomach and sloshing with every jolt of the aircraft
    • white crocheted lace
    • a peaked cap
    • whisks the tea to a froth, passes it to the guest : the same as in whisk the yolks with half the sugar, cf.
    • bamboo screen : cf. 竹帘子
    • erratic shadows of the plants tumble in : cf. 参差
    • a sumptuous green lapped at by this stirring, solemn blue : lavish
    • too porous to make a decision
    • compelled over huge crossings at intersections with the Japanese workforce clocking off for the day
    • turn the other cheek : cf. 侧过脸来
    • ravine densely surrounded by high-rises
    • rehearsed smiles
    • limp finger : soft
    • jarring electric advertisements : competing, cf. 交相辉映
    • an earthenware pot in which unidentified ingredients had been unified into a cloudy soup
    • grubby corners where underdone feelings could accumulate
    • passengers stepped in and out of cones of light on the platform, the night an impenetrable wall behind them
    • plucked the bag into shape and tried to smooth out the creases
    • a younger generation with no prospects can’t help but style themselves in a way that suggests that they are a force to be reckoned with : cf. 无法忽视的力量
    • apologised profusely : cf. 不住地道歉
    • jiggling little beard bobbing up and down : shake; fidget
    • resigned tone
    • gnawing beauty
    • suss out : BrE informal cf. 会过神来
    • transience of all earthly things : cf. 红尘稍纵即逝
    • young, supple and full of promise : lithe, flexible
    • courtly vanity : cf. 宫廷尔虞我诈
    • physiognomy : face, feature
    • a silvery light, diffused over bristly silhouettes : 一束银光,洒在斑驳的 影子上
    • boxed his unduly yielding pillow into shape
    • eddying pine needles : swirl
    • iron filings drawn by a magnet : 就像铁渣被磁石吸引
    • predisposed to accept without hesitation anything that served the purpose of professional advancement
    • neurotic perfectionist : cf. 神经兮兮
    • rooted around in his bag : fidget
    • tiled walkways : cf. 铺了瓷砖的
    • (timing, place) propitious : favourable
    • cut-rate neighbourhood : cheap, cf. 低档社区
    • profundity : wisdom, insight
    • up to scratch : good enough
    • shoes making the iron steps
    • a journey of spiritual cleansing : cf. 净化心灵的旅程
    • a bell of security
    • irreparably spoiled
    • wrested an agreement from me : cf. 从我那里蹭到了同意
    • schlep : a slow difficult journey esp. not desired
    • final chance for gluttony : cf. 大吃一顿
    • layby : BrE an area at the side of a road where vehicles may stop for a short time
    • Yosa planted himself next to the first one (warning sign) and translated its advice
    • swung his bag to the beat of a march
    • knobbly roots
    • toppled tree trunks
    • irrevocably to an end : the same as in an irrevocable loss
    • bilious green, malachite green : a mineral
    • zingy toothpaste green : cf. 亮晶晶
    • branches and bracken
    • verve : enthusiasm
    • sky-blotting canopy shifted before his eyes : cf. the scene where the woodcutter walked through the forest in Rashomon, camera was pointed to the sky through woods
    • cowering on the ground
    • forest floor began to whimper
    • flowing manes
    • politic ex officio : wise authoritative
    • construe : interpret
    • anthracite : cf. 无烟煤
    • deciduous : antonym evergreen
    • the flux with its coloured gradients : continuous change
    • erubescence : cf. ruby
    • abeyance : in abeyance, suspension
    • scarlet red, madder red, pontifical red
    • resplendent : splendid
    • awoke from a jolt : cf. 一震
    • impermeable grey : cf. 密不透风
    • the trees obscured everything : cf. 挡住视线
    • slumbering volcano beneath a red evening sun
    • fondant : mixture of water and sugar, cf. 翻糖
    • degree of inclination : cf. 坡度
    • muddled feelings : confused
    • whittled : cf.
    • misgivings : qualm, doubt
    • ablution : cf. 洗漱
    • monkeys with pink rumps
    • slipshod : careless
    • riled : cf. revile, ravine, virile, vile
    • pawed for the key to the room
    • dappled : speckled
    • casting off the exhaustion : cf. 抖擞精神
    • (air conditioner) boxes (of a building) that rhythmically reoccurred as if there was only one of them
    • a stamp with a floral motif : design
    • they leant on the rail and watched the water
    • a weedy figure : cf. 弱不禁风
    • He fished the bits of vegetables and meat out of his bowl, guzzled down the noodles, drained the broth
    • stabbed his chopsticks irritably into the empty bowl : cf. jab
    • a twinkling sea of lights
    • This is what made conversing with him so tedious, so demanding : cf. 费劲
    • since time immemorial : cf. 不知从何时起
    • foisted upon : impose
    • bobbing it about : cf. 叽叽咕咕
    • at the sight of the blossom-bedecked, gaudily outfitted lady on the poster
    • floor length window : cf. floor length dress
    • scurried around : scamper around
    • mussel : cf.
    • mouth felt parched : shrivel, cf. wither, dry up
    • a bushel of white paper strips
    • written off the car the very next day : wreck
    • enveloping dusk, the insinuation of evening
    • his head was still brimming with foliage : cf. 满脑子
    • the whole country tipped from the familiar into the unknown
    • on a direct route to Matsushima, no beating about the bush, no layovers
    • vernal green : cf. 新绿
    • fleeting nature of the world : cf. 瞬息万变
    • asserting its solitary reign : cf. 唯我独尊
    • flocking there in droves : cf. 成群结队
    • verdurous resplendent landscape : verdure
    • the overpowering emissions of an aura of discontent
    • vixen : female fox
    • sine quibus non : plural, indispensable
    • he asserted a hidden gravity, all designed precisely to puncture such omnipotence : cf. 洞穿
    • lone houses, which appeared as if glued to the forested slopes
    • heat closed in around him like a thick robe
    • this Japanese family’s performance was suffused with the kind of studied elegance one begins practising in earliest childhood : permeate
    • Doors opened of their own volition
    • palimpsest : cf. 羊皮纸
    • scrape the ground with their feet : cf. impatience
    • out-and-out scuffles : downright
    • jostle : bump into
    • gormless : stupid
    • sky was spanned with drooping cables
    • walls threw oblique rectangular shadows onto the road
    • plots of land
    • shadows of their former selves, tainted by the bleakness of the modern age
    • wizened : wrinkled
    • a small island jutted up
    • doubly forsaken : abandoned
    • stood pressed against the railings : cf. lean on the rails
    • green algae drifted in the water : cf. 浮萍
    • textbook : exact in the best possible way
    • punchy : cf. 合仄押韵
    • oppressive heat : cf. 酷热
    • bollard : BrE a short thick post that is used to stop vehicles from entering
    • prospectus : brochure
    • a terry-cloth towel that some would drape around their necks to mop up the sweat
    • completely motionless sea : cf. 静静的海
    • perspire : sweat
    • isotonic water : cf. 矿泉水
    • cumulus clouds : cf. 祥云
    • cupola : structure on top of a dome
    • undulating (terrain) : cf. 群山起伏
    • tousled : dishevelled
    • ossuaries : a depository for the bones of the dead
    • Pantocrator : Christ Pantocrator
    • catacomb : ossuary, underground cemetery
    • looking at the horizon from the top of a hill : cf. 眺望地平线
    • fussily : cf. 煞有介事地
    • toes apishly curling against the rock’s surface
    • plump pillow : cf. 鼓囊囊, 浑圆
    • a lightning bolt coursing through a rod : cf. 闪电霹雳
    • left the train with the bustle of locals : toing and froing, cf. 人来 人往
    • crash barrier : cf. 防护栏
    • pallor : paleness
    • aftertaste : cf. 余味
    • a wan face : pale
    • movable Z-shaped arm
    • right from the off : outset
    • hypnopompic hallucination : semiconsciousness before awaking
    • pontoon crane : barge crane built on floating platform
    • The sea sparkled for a matter of seconds beneath the haze : cf. 波光粼粼
    • atomised into a spray : cf. 激起晶莹的烟雾
    • with gusto : enthusiasm
    • unremitting transitoriness of things
    • susurrating pines : murmuring, cf. 轻声细语
    • creaking pine cones, swishing needles, rasping branches : 吱吱作响的松果, 窸窸窣窣的松针,嘎吱响动的松枝
    • (cicada) spine-chilling chirping swaddled him like a cocoon :
    • carmine : dark red
    • filigreed leaf : lacework
    • (monkey) cackle
    • snags with dried, brown needles : sharp projection

    Quotations from the book

    Maybe his relatives would shed a tear, light an incense stick, inform their wider relations, but to achieve anything more than this shallow effect would be too much of an effort. Because ultimately this wasn’t a suicide from one’s own free will, from a serene mindset, ultimately it wasn’t an independent decision, but a pitiful attempt at manipulation. Juvenile behaviour that made one ridiculous in death. One only had to look at the disgusting, half-decayed figures that unfortunately abounded in this forest. If one’s intention was that at least death would give a lost life dignity in retrospect, then this method beneath the red pines was in any case doomed to fail.

    it also functioned as a stereo with a wide selection of soundscapes including the sea, rain showers, waterfalls of various heights and babbling brooks, but also tweeting birds, the wind in desolate treetops, coastal storms, as well as all of Mozart’s violin concertos.

    Pillars the shade of mint stuck out from the silkiness of the river, rosy buoys bobbed like lost heads, gaudy struts crossed one another to form a structure made from plastic toys and ice cream. Up top, the bridge’s steel girder arched like the track of a roller coaster.

    A weedy, hunched figure, umbrellaed by a broad pilgrim’s hat, the straps of the pilgrim’s bag weighing down his neck, his frame held up by the crutch-like pilgrim’s staff.

    Gilbert clawed his hand—the small, cool hand of the Japanese man clasped to it—into the armrest, and bored his fingernails into the velvet.

    A single leaf came free and sailed between the branches, until at last it landed on the central reservation.

    The waves arched, licking the sand, melting away in white foam.

    A dirt path led along the bank, over exposed pine roots, past grottoes occupied by squatting Buddhist statues, weather-worn, encrusted with verdigris, highly dignified.


Gustav Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde

It is said there was a debate in 1988 when the performance was given to native Chinese audience their scholars doubted whether Hans Bethge derived the German verses from Tang Shi by Li Bai or Meng Haoran.

  • Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde
    German text My English rendition
    Schon winkt der Wein im gold’nen Pokale, The wine shimmers and swirls in the golden chalice already,
    Doch trinkt noch nicht, erst sing’ ich euch ein Lied! but do not drink, first let me sing a song to you!
    Das Lied vom Kummer soll auflachend in die Seele euch klingen. The song of grief will register with a good laugh in your soul.
    Wenn der Kummer naht, liegen wüst die Gärten der Seele, When the sorrow looms closer, the garden of souls is left deserted,
    Welkt hin und stirbt die Freude, der Gesang. wilts and dies the joy and the song.
    Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod. Darkness is to live and is to die.
    Herr dieses Hauses! The masters of the houses!
    Dein Keller birgt die Fülle des goldenen Weins! Your cellar holds full of golden wines!
    Hier, diese Laute nenn’ ich mein! Here, I call the lutes mine!
    Die Laute schlagen und die Gläser leeren, The lutes striken and the glasses emptied,
    Das sind die Dingen, die zusammen passen. all things too happen the same time.
    Ein voller Becher Weins zur rechten Zeit A full cup of wine for the right time
    Ist mehr wert, als alle Reiche dieser Erde! is worth more than the kingdoms on the planet combined!
    Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod! Darkness is to live and is to die.
    Das Firmament blaut ewig, und die Erde The sky is blue forever and the earth
    Wird lange fest steh’n und aufblüh’n im Lenz. will stand firm for long and blossom in the spring.
    Du aber, Mensch, wie lang lebst denn du? But you, man, how long will you live then?
    Nicht hundert Jahre darfst du dich ergötzen Not for a hundred years can you enjoy
    An all dem morschen Tande dieser Erde! with all the mortal trifles of the planet!
    Seht dort hinab! Im Mondschein auf den Gräbern Look down there! In the graveyard under the moonlight
    Hockt eine wild-gespenstische Gestalt -- crawls a wild ghost figure --
    Ein Aff’ist’s! Hört ihr, wie sein Heulen It’s an ape! Hear you, how its howling
    Hinausgellt in den süßen Duft des Lebens! ripples back and forth in the sweet scent of lives!
    Jetzt nehmt den Wein! Jetzt ist es Zeit, Genossen! Now take the wine! Now it’s the time, mate!
    Leert eure gold’nen Becher zu Grund! Empty your golden cup completely!
    Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod! Darkness is to live and is to die!

    The Chinese original based on which Hans Bethge used is probably Bei Ge Xing by Li Bai. Only the first two stanzas are used in Mahler. It is obvious that latter two stanzas are teemed with historic figures which would make the understanding of the text rather difficult.

    • Bei Ge Xing

    • Notes:
      • 三尺琴: 《博雅·释琴》 :“神农氏琴长三尺六寸六分。”
      • 千钧金:《诗文·金部》:“钧,三十斤也。”
      • 天虽长,地虽久:《老子》上篇第七章:“天长地久,天地所以能长且久者,以其不自生。”
      • “金玉”句:《老子》上篇第九章:“金玉满堂,莫之能守。富贵而骄,自遗其咎。”
      • “凤凰”句:《论语·子罕》:“凤鸟不至,河不出图,吾已矣夫。”《易经·系辞上》: “河出图,洛出书,圣人则之。”
      • “微子”句:微子,商纣王庶兄。箕子,商纣王诸父。当时的贤臣。《史记·殷本纪》: “纣愈淫乱不止,微子数谏不听,乃与太师少保谋,遂去。……箕子乃佯狂为奴。”《论 语·微子》:“微子去之,箕子为奴。”
      • 李将军:指李广。李广抗匈奴四十余年,大小七十余战,其下属多封侯,而李广终生 不得爵位。汉文帝叹曰:“惜乎!子不遇时,如令子当高帝世,万户侯岂足道哉!”事 见《史记》、《汉书》本传。
      • 屈大夫:指屈原。屈原为春秋时楚国人,曾任左徒、三闾大夫。爱国直谏,遭谗被逐, 投汨罗江而死。详见《史记·屈原列传》。
      • “秦家”句:李斯,楚上蔡人。战国末入秦为客卿,为秦王灭六国献策。秦始皇任为廷 尉。始皇死,与赵高合谋逼死太子扶苏,立少子胡亥为二世皇帝。后为赵高忌,“腰 斩咸阳市,斯出狱与其中子俱执。顾谓其中子曰:‘吾欲与若复牵黄犬,俱出上蔡东 门逐狡兔,岂可得乎?”事见《史记·李斯列传》。
      • 范子:即范蠡,春秋楚宛人,仕越为大夫,辅佐越王勾践灭吴。以勾践为人可与同患, 难与处安,乃辞勾践,曰:“王其勉之,臣从此辞。”乘扁舟出三江,入五湖,人莫知 其所适。见《吴越春秋》卷六《勾践伐吴外传》。
      • “剑是”二句,《史记·项羽本纪》:“项籍少时学书不成,去。学剑又不成。项梁怒之。 籍曰:‘书,足以记名姓而已。剑,一人敌,不足学。学万人敌。’”
      • 惠施:《吕氏春秋·审应览·淫辞》:“魏惠王谓惠子曰:‘上世之有国,必贤者也。今 寡人实不若先生,愿得传国。’惠子辞。王又固清曰:‘寡人莫有之国于此者也,而传 之贤者,民之贪争之心止矣。欲先生以此听寡人也。’惠子曰:‘若王之言,则施不可 而听矣。王固万乘之主也,以国与人犹尚可;今施布衣也,可以有万乘之国而辞之, 此其止贪争之心愈甚也。’……惠子易衣变冠,乘舆而走。”
      • 卜式:汉河阳人,以牧羊致富,不习文章。武帝与匈奴作战,卜式屡以私财捐助朝廷, 武帝任为中郎,后为御史大夫,终太子太傅。详见《汉书·卜式传》。
      • 方伯:《礼记·王制》:“千里之外设方伯。”《汉书·何武传》:“武曰:剌史,古之 方伯,上所委任,一卅表率也。”后泛指地方长官。谩,徒也,空也。
  • Der Einsame im Herbst
    German text My English rendition
    Herbstnebel wallen bläulich überm See; Blue autumn frog simmers over the sea;
    Vom Reif bezogen stehen alle Gräser; The entire grassland is covered with frost;
    Man meint, ein Künstler habe Staub von Jade One might think, an artist has the startdust made of jade
    Über die feinen Blüten ausgestreut. spread over the delicate flowers.
    Der süße Duft der Blumen ist verflogen; The fragrance of the flowers faded away;
    Ein kalter Wind beugt ihre Stengel nieder. A chilling wind sways their stems below.
    Bald werden die verwelkten, gold’nen Blätter Soon the withered golden leafs
    Der Lotosblüten auf dem Wasser zieh’n. of the lotus will grow out of water.
    Mein Herz ist müde. Meine kleine Lampe My heart is tired. My little lamp
    Erlosch mit Knistern, es gemahnt mich an den Schlaf. has gone out with fizz, it urges me to sleep.
    Ich komm’ zu dir, traute Ruhestätte! I come to you, the cozy resting place!
    Ja, gib mir Ruh’, ich hab’ Erquickung Not! Yes, it gives me peace, I need a rest!
    Ich weine viel in meinen Einsamkeiten. I weep often in my solitude.
    Der Herbst in meinem Herzen währt zu lange. The autumn dawdles in my heart far too long.
    Sonne der Liebe willst du nie mehr scheinen, Sun of love, will you shine no more,
    Um meine bittern Tränen mild aufzutrocknen? to ease my bitter tears?

    The Chinese original is probably Xiao Gu Qiuyechang by Qian Qi. Only the first half appeared in Mahler.

    • Xiao Gu Qiuyechang

    • Notes:
      • 秋夜长:乐府杂曲歌名,南齐时王融作。
      • 秋汉:即秋空。玉霜:白霜。
      • 漏:古时计时工具。
      • 鸳机:即绣具。
      • 白玉窗:犹白玉堂,为富贵人家所居的屋舍。
  • Von der Jugend
    German text My English rendition
    Mitten in dem kleinen Teiche In middle of the small pond
    Steht ein Pavillon aus grünem stands a pavillion of green
    Und aus weißem Porzellan. and white porcelain.
    Wie der Rücken eines Tigers As if the back of a tiger
    Wölbt die Brücke sich aus Jade bolsters the jade bridge
    Zu dem Pavillon hinüber. overthere by the pavilion.
    In dem Häuschen sitzen Freunde, Friends sit in the little houses,
    Schön gekleidet, trinken, plaudern. well suited up, drink, and talk.
    Manche schreiben Verse nieder. Some write verses down.
    Ihre seidnen Ärmel gleiten Their silk sleeves slip
    Rückwärts, ihre seidnen Mützen back, their silk hats
    Hocken lustig tief im Nacken. rest funnily low around neck.
    Auf des kleinen Teiches stiller Over the small pond, quiet
    Wasserfläche zeigt sich alles water surface reflects everybody
    Wunderlich im Spiegelbilde. raffishly in the mirror image.
    Alles auf dem Kopfe stehend Everything stands over its head
    In dem Pavillon aus grünem in the pavilion of green
    Und aus weißem Porzellan; and white porcelain;
    Wie ein Halbmond steht die Brücke, The bridge looks as if it is a half moon
    Umgekehrt der Bogen. Freunde, the arch turned upside down. Friends,
    Schön gekleidet, trinken, plaudern. well suited up, drink and talk.

    The Chinese original is probably Yan Taojia Tingzi by Li Bai.

    • Yan Taojia Tingzi

    • Notes:
      • 破颜花:花怒放。
      • 金谷:谷名,晋代石崇曾在此建立园馆。
  • Von der Schönheit
    German text My English rendition
    Junge Mädchen pflücken Blumen, Young ladies pick flowers,
    Pflücken Lotosblumen an dem Uferrande. pick the lotus on the riverbank.
    Zwischen Büschen und Blättern sitzen sie, between the bushes and leaves they sit,
    Sammeln Blüten in den Schoß und rufen gathering flowers in the laps and call
    Sich einander Neckereien zu. one another to the teases.
    Gold’ne Sonne webt um die Gestalten, Golden sunlight weaves around their bodies,
    Spiegelt sich im blanken Wasser wider, that are mirrored in the clear water,
    Sonne spiegelt ihre schlanken Glieder, Sun reflects their slender limbs,
    Ihre süßen Augen wider, their cute eyes,
    Und der Zephir hebt mit Schmeichelkosen das Gewebe and breeze raises up with gentle caress the fabric
    Ihrer Ärmel auf, führt den Zauber of their sleeves, guiding the magic
    Ihrer Wohlgerüche durch die Luft. of the aroma through the air.
    O sieh, was tummeln sich für schöne Knaben O see, what a herd of attractive young men
    Dort an dem Uferrand auf mut’gen Rossen? there riding charged horses over the riverbank.
    Weithin glänzend wie die Sonnenstrahlen; The sunlight is beaming;
    Schon zwischen dem Geäst der grünen Weiden amidst the green grass of the pasture
    Trabt das jungfrische Volk einher! lively young folks are hopping along!
    Das Roß des einen wiehert fröhlich auf One of the horses roars friskily
    Und scheut und saust dahin, and shuns and rushes here and there,
    Über Blumen, Gräser, wanken hin die Hufe, flowers and grass, swung under the hoofs,
    Sie zerstampfen jäh im Sturm die hingesunk’nen Blüten, the horse trots around the fallen flowers all of a sudden.
    Hei! Wie flattern im Taumel seine Mähnen, Hey! His flair flutters in frenzy,
    Dampfen heiß die Nüstern! his nostrils steaming.
    Gold’ne Sonne webt um die Gestalten, Golden sun weaves around their bodies,
    Spiegelt sie im blanken Wasser wider. that are mirrored in the clear water.
    Und die schönste von den Jungfrau’n sendet The most beautiful of the young girls sends
    Lange Blicke ihm der Sehnsucht nach. her long stares at him in admiration.
    Ihre stolze Haltung ist nur Verstellung. Her proud posture is just a pretence.
    In dem Funkeln ihrer großen Augen, In the sparkling of her big eyes,
    In dem Dunkel ihres heißen Blicks in her deep avid stares
    Schwingt klagend noch die Erregung ihres Herzens nach. the wistful yearning resonates in her heart.

    The Chinese original is probably Cailian Qu by Li Bai.

    • Cailian Qu

      若耶溪边采莲女, 笑隔荷花共人语。
      日照新妆水底明, 风飘香袖空中举。
      岸上谁家游冶郎, 三三五五映垂杨。
      紫骝嘶入落花去, 见此踟蹰空断肠。
    • Notes:
      • 采莲曲:属乐府清商曲辞。起于梁武帝萧衍父子,后人多拟之。
      • 若耶溪:在今浙江绍兴市南。
      • 游冶郎:出游寻乐的青年男子。
      • 紫骝:毛色枣红的良马。
      • 踟蹰:徘徊。
  • Der Trunkene im Frühling
    German text My English rendition
    Wenn nur ein Traum das Leben ist, If life is just a dream,
    Warum denn Müh’ und Plag’!? why bother to work!?
    Ich trinke, bis ich nicht mehr kann, I drink, until I cannot anymore,
    Den ganzen, lieben Tag! all day long, what a lovely day!
    Und wenn ich nicht mehr trinken kann, And if I cannot drink more,
    Weil Kehl’ und Seele voll, that’s because I am full, body and soul.
    So tauml’ ich bis zu meiner Tür so I teeter totter to my door,
    Und schlafe wundervoll! and have a sleep of wonder!
    Was hör’ ich beim Erwachen? Horch! What do I hear when waking up? Hear!
    Ein Vogel singt im Baum. A bird is singing in the tree.
    Ich frag’ ihn, ob schon Frühling sei, I asked him, is it spring already,
    Mir ist als wie im Traum. as if in a dream to me.
    Der Vogel zwitschert: Ja! The bird tweets back: Yes!
    Der Lenz ist da, sei kommen über Nacht! Spring is here, it comes over night!
    Aus tiefstem Schauen lauscht’ ich auf, With an intense look I listen
    Der Vogel singt und lacht! The bird is singing and laughing!
    Ich fülle mir den Becher neu I fill up for myself another cup
    Und leer’ ihn bis zum Grund and empty it until the last drop
    Und singe, bis der Mond erglänzt and sing, until the moon rises glistening
    Am schwarzen Firmament! in the dark sky!
    Und wenn ich nicht mehr singen kann, And if I cannot no longer sing,
    So schlaf’ ich wieder ein. I go sleep again.
    Was geht mich denn der Frühling an!? What is going on in the spring!?
    Laßt mich betrunken sein! Let me be tipsy!

    The Chinese original is probably Chunri Zuiqi Yanzhi by Li Bai.

    • Chunri Zuiqi Yanzhi

    • Notes:
      • 前楹:廳前的柱子。
      • 盼庭前:一作“眄庭前”。眄,斜視。
  • Der Abschied
    German text My English rendition
    Die Sonne scheidet hinter dem Gebirge. The sun retreats behind the mountains.
    In alle Täler steigt der Abend nieder Down in the valley climbs up the night
    Mit seinen Schatten, die voll Kühlung sind. with its shadow, bringing its full chill.
    O sieh! Wie eine Silberbarke schwebt O see! Like a floating silver boat
    Der Mond am blauen Himmelssee herauf. the moon hangs in the blue sea of sky.
    Ich spüre eines feinen Windes Weh’n I feel a breeze blowing
    Hinter den dunklen Fichten! through the dense forest of pine trees!
    Der Bach singt voller Wohllaut durch das Dunkel. The brook is singing burbling through darkness.
    Die Blumen blassen im Dämmerschein. The flowers have lost their lustre in the sunset.
    Die Erde atmet voll von Ruh’ und Schlaf. The earth breathes completely in silence and in sleep.
    Alle Sehnsucht will nun träumen, Desire begins to show in the dreams,
    Die müden Menschen geh’n heimwärts, the worn off come home,
    Um im Schlaf vergess’nes Glück and in their sleep their forgotten happiness
    Und Jugend neu zu lernen! and youth they get to know!
    Die Vögel hocken still in ihren Zweigen. The birds perch quietly on their twigs.
    Die Welt schläft ein! The world falls asleep!
    Es wehet kühl im Schatten meiner Fichten. Chilling wind blows in the shadow of my pine trees.
    Ich stehe hier und harre meines Freundes; I stand here awaiting my friends.
    Ich harre sein zum letzten Lebewohl. I wait to bid my last farewell.
    Ich sehne mich, o Freund, an deiner Seite I see myself, my friend, on your side
    Die Schönheit dieses Abends zu genießen. to enjoy so many wonderful nights.
    Wo bleibst du? Du läßt mich lang allein! Where are you? You leave me alone for quite a while!
    Ich wandle auf und nieder mit meiner Laute I step back and forth with my lute
    Auf Wegen, die von weichem Grase schwellen. on the way, where soft grass rises.
    O Schönheit! O ewigen Liebens – Lebens – trunk’ne Welt! O Wonder! O forever love – and life – sloshed world!
    Er stieg vom Pferd und reichte ihm den Trunk He dismounted from his horse and grabbed the drink
    Des Abschieds dar. Er fragte ihn, wohin of farewell to him. He was asked where
    Er führe und auch warum es müßte sein. he was going and why he must be going.
    Er sprach, seine Stimme war umflort: Du, mein Freund, He said, his voice tuned down: You, my friend,
    Mir war auf dieser Welt das Glück nicht hold! in this world, luck is not in favour of me!
    Wohin ich geh’? Ich geh’, ich wand’re in die Berge. Where do I go? I go, I wander in the mountains.
    Ich suche Ruhe für mein einsam Herz. I search for peace for my lonely heart.
    Ich wandle nach der Heimat! Meiner Stätte. I go back to my fatherland! My hometown.
    Ich werde niemals in die Ferne schweifen. I will no longer wander off in the remote.
    Still ist mein Herz und harret seiner Stunde! My heart is settling and waiting for its hour!
    Die liebe Erde allüberall blüht auf im Lenz und grünt The lively earth will be in full blossom in spring and
    Aufs neu! Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! flourish again! Everywhere and ever blue light on the horizon!
    Ewig… ewig… Forever … ever …

    The first half is probably based on Su Yeshi Shanfang Dai Ding Da Buzhi by Meng Haoran. The Chinese original based on which the latter half was composed is probably Song Bie by Wang Wei.

    • Su Yeshi Shanfang Dai Ding Da Buzhi

    • Notes:
      • 之子:这个人。
      • 宿:隔夜。
    • Song Bie

      下马饮君酒, 问君何所之。
      君言不得意, 归卧南山陲。
      但去莫复问, 白云无尽时。
    • Notes:
      • 归卧:隐居。
      • 南山:终南山,即秦岭,在今陕西省西安市西南。
      • 陲:边缘。

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Von Guten Mächten

Von guten Mächten treu und still umgeben,
Behütet und getröstet wunderbar,
So will ich diese Tage mit euch leben
Und mit euch gehen in ein neues Jahr.

Noch will das alte unsre Herzen quälen,
Noch drückt uns böser Tage schwere Last.
Ach, Herr, gib unsern aufgescheuchten Seelen
Das Heil, für das du uns bereitet hast.

Und reichst du uns den schweren Kelch, den bittern
Des Leids, gefüllt bis an den höchsten Rand,
So nehmen wir ihn dankbar ohne Zittern
Aus deiner guten und geliebten Hand.

Doch willst du uns noch einmal Freude schenken
An dieser Welt und ihrer Sonne Glanz,
Dann wolln wir des Vergangenen gedenken
Und dann gehört dir unser Leben ganz.

Lass warm und still die Kerzen heute flammen,
Die du in unsre Dunkelheit gebracht.
Führ, wenn es sein kann, wieder uns zusammen.
Wir wissen es, dein Licht scheint in der Nacht.

Wenn sich die Stille nun tief um uns breitet,
So lass uns hören jenen vollen Klang
Der Welt, die unsichtbar sich um uns weitet,
All deiner Kinder hohen Lobgesang.

Von guten Mächten wunderbar geborgen,
Erwarten wir getrost, was kommen mag.
Gott ist mit uns am Abend und am Morgen
Und ganz gewiss an jedem neuen Tag.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Von Guten Mächten


Note: All videos belong to their respective copyright owners. All videos here are recorded via DW Live YouTube channel. Edited using Cinelerra for private purposes only.

  • Zu Tisch… aired by DW.

    Zu Tisch... In Kantabrien

    Zu Tisch... In Slawonien

    Zu Tisch... In der Südsteiermark

    Zu Tisch... In der Provence

    Zu Tisch... Auf Menorca

    Zu Tisch... Auf La Gomera

    Zu Tisch... In Kuba

    Zu Tisch... In Nordirland

    Zu Tisch... In Kampanien

    Zu Tisch... In der Touraine

    Zu Tisch... Am Balaton

    Zu Tisch... Auf dem Mont Blanc

    Zu Tisch... In Lyon

    Zu Tisch... In Karelien

    Zu Tisch... Im Schweizer Jura

    Zu Tisch... Im Grödnertal

    Zu Tisch... In Oberbayern

    Zu Tisch... In Prag

    Zu Tisch... In der Solognen

    Zu Tisch... Auf der Schwäbischen Alb (Captions generated by Google speech recognition)

  • Author Stefanie Hirsbrunner interview.

  • Bernardo Bertolucci dies aged 77 Der Tag by DW.


  • A Bavarian working as a trainee in a Swiss publisher shortly before her Abmeldung (clip from SRF Doku).


Note: Mouse over kanji to show its kana.

  • 村下孝蔵の「陽だまり」高橋留美子原作のアニメ『めぞん一刻』最終クールオープニングの主題歌

    陽だまり My English rendition
    早く会いたいたった一言 心から叫びたいよ The howling voice deep in my heart is simply that soon I can see you
    きっといつかはめぐり逢い 結ばれると信じていたと We are bound to meet each other in the future, I firmly believe we will be together thereafter
    歩きだせばこの背中を 追いかけてついてきて欲しい I walk ahead, hoping you will catch up from behind
    ああ僕は君一人のためだけのひとりぼっちさ Ah, I am without company, only waiting for you to fill that seat
    ひらひら花びらの舞う春の午後には On a spring afternoon, fleeting flowers sailing through the air
    祈り誓いにかえるよ I turn my wishes into commitments
    一番大事な事忘れずに 輝いていて欲しいよ Please don’t forget the most important thing: always be that shining light of exuberance
  • Sōseki Project
    • 吾輩である

      It was originally planned for only one chapter; it really should have stuck to that plan.

    • こゝろ

      Penguin Classics (2010), translated by Meredith McKinney. The general feeling is there but a lot of the times details are lost in the translation.

      • bob about among the waves : cf. 荡漾
      • return the way he come : cf. 原路返回
      • he passed me on his way out : cf. 回去的路上擦肩而过
      • fleeting shocks of disappointment : cf. 阵阵失望
      • brow darkened a little : cf. 印堂
      • older generation’s timorous aversion : cf. prim
      • fickle : cf. capricious 嬗变
      • apparition : ghost
      • punctilious : meticulous
      • coquettish : flirtatious
      • perspicacity : cf. 反应快,机灵
      • rack one’s brain : think hard. rack = torment
      • tong : cf. 火钳
      • view the world through jaundiced eyes : cf. rose tinted glasses, jade colored glasses
      • venture (when replying) : dare, cf. stick one’s neck out, go out on a limb
      • for the first week or so you are fussed over and treated as honored guest, then the family’s enthusiasm wanes, and finally you are treated quite offhandedly : 当座の一週間ぐらいは下にも置かないように、ちやほや歓待され るのに、その峠を定規通り通り越すと、あとはそろそろ家族の熱が冷めて来て、し まいには有っても無くっても構わないもののように粗末に取り扱われがちになるも のである
      • bough : branch
      • jabbed the cane upright into the earth : cf.
      • cross : angry
      • tendrils of bean vines twining up bamboo stakes : 豌豆の蔓を竹にからませた り : サ行下二段活用の動詞「絡ます」の連用形である「絡ませ」に、完了の助動詞 「たり」が付いた形
      • I am a most vindictive man. When someone insults or harms me, I’ll bear the grudge for ten years : cf. 记仇
      • quail : cower, cringe
      • musty : mouldy
      • spread eagle : そうして大の字なりになって : ラ行五段活用の動詞「なる」の連 用形である「なり」の促音便形に、接続助詞「て」が付いた形
      • psychologically finicky : 私は精神的に癇性なんです
      • Just take a look at others who are not so fortunate. They are far from able to be so blithe : casual : なかなかあなたのように落ち付いちゃいられ ないから
      • Sensei was facing the garden, calmly puffing on his cigarette : 先生は庭の 方を向いて、澄まして烟草を吹かしていた
      • braving the heat : endure : 私はその翌日も暑さを冒して、頼まれものを買い 集めて歩いた : cf. 冒着酷暑
      • the grubby handkerchief he had fixed to the back of his old straw hat to keep off the sun flapped behind him : 古い麦藁帽の後ろへ、日除のために括り 付けた薄汚ないハンケチをひらひらさせながら
      • In the end what I felt was displeasure at the reek of country boorishness in father’s ignorance : 私はしまいに父の無知から出る田舎臭 いところに不快を感じ出した : cf. 乡下人的味道
      • mother chipped in from beside father : 母も傍から注意した : cf. in an aside
      • Normally I would have made some remonstrance : protest : いつもの私なら すぐ何とかいうはずであったが
      • still so hale and hearty : 今までしゃんしゃんしているんだからね
      • I listened in silence to these trite sentiments : この陳腐なような母の言 葉を黙然と聞いていた
      • wicker trunk : cf. 柳条箱
      • suddenly the image of the woman with narrow kimono obi sash comfortably tied at her back, rose unbidden in mind ふと幅の細い帯を楽 に後ろで結んでいるその人の姿を思い出した
      • sitting pensive and silent : 凝と坐り込むようになる : cf. 若有所思
      • In the old days children shouldered the responsibility of feeding their parents, but these days they only devour them : 昔の親は子に食わせてもらったのに、今の親は子に食われるだけだ : サ行下一段活用 の動詞「食わせる」の連用形である「食わせ」に、接続助詞「て」が付いた形
      • groping in despair for anything positive : 失望していいところにかえって 頼みを置いた : カ行五段活用の動詞「置く」の連用形である「置き」のイ音便形 に、過去・完了・存続・確認の助動詞「た」が付いた形
      • tongue went prattling : 喋舌った : battling, cf. garrulous, loquacious
      • invalid : patient
      • turned glazed eyes to Sakusan’s direction : cf. eyes glaze over, glisten with tears, gleaming with amusement : どんよりした眼を作さんの方に向 けた : サ行変格活用の動詞「どんよりする」の連用形である「どんよりし」に、 過去・完了・存続・確認の助動詞「た」が付いた形
      • I prevaricated with some vague reply, incomprehensible even to myself, and left seat on purpose: 自分にも何とも訳の分らない曖昧な返事をして、 わざと席を立った : cf. 搪塞
      • I felt that retorting that my brother didn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word egoist, which he was bandying about : 私は兄に向かっ て、自分の使っているイゴイストという言葉の意味がよく解るかと聞き返してやり たかった : cf. 挂在嘴边
  • 金閣 (三島 由紀夫)」
  • (安部 公房)」

    The sophistication of a civilization is proportionate to how people take care of their velvety skin…

  • (安部 公房)」
  • インターネットの電子図書館青空文庫.
    • づかい (森 鴎外)」

      されど貴族の子に生れたりとて、われも人なり。いまいましき 門閥血統迷信土くれと看破りては、わがのうちに投げ入るべきところなし。い やしき恋にうき身やつさば、姫ごぜのともならめど、このならわし のにいでんとするを誰か支うべき。

    • うたかたの (森 鴎外)」
    • (芥川 龍之介)」
    • 地獄 (芥川 龍之介)」
    • (森 鴎外)」
  • 『川端康成氏囲んで』 aired by NHK.
  • Grammar book for English speaking beginners by Michiel Kamermans
  • 勇み」, literally means in Sumo wrestling, one wrestler on the verge of victory, in order to bring the match to an end sooner he applies too much force resulting in his own foot out of the wrestling ring. The English equivalent is probably “a rash decision”.
  • Miyazaki Hayao interviewed Kurosawa Akira on 8 April 1993. The original broadcast was on 5 May that year. A Japanese YouTuber uploaded it in 10 pieces. However the complete footage was not available on YouTube possibly due to copyright strikes. Parts 5, 8, 9 are missing. I did research and assembled the video as complete as it could be. This effort was personal and for language learning only. Any comments on the subtitles are very welcome.
  • This is a line from Kagemusha (1980). Also it was thought Oda Nobunaga liked this line of Noh play and often performed this piece himself.



  • Several songs used in Ghibli animations
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  • Sommaire
    • haro : outcry
    • corps de nombres : number fields
    • bilan : appraisal
    • enseignant : teacher
    • renvoient : 3 p.p. prés. renvoyer, reflect
    • bas : foot, low; cf. les Pays-Bas, Netherlands
    • rajouter : add, supplement
    • ultérieurement : later
    • réunir : gather
  • 1.
    • conjoncture : conditions
    • consacrer : devote
    • devient : 3 p.s. prés. devenir
    • dont il devient clair : from which it becomes clear
    • aucun élève : no pupils
    • ni même : not even
    • semble-t-il : apparently
    • en guise de : by way of
    • trouvera : 3 p.s. fut. trouver
    • également : also
    • aperçu : outline, survey
    • au moins : at least
    • depuis lors : thereafter
    • difficilement déchiffrables sans doute à tout autre qu’à moi-même : without doubt (it bears) interpreting difficulty for anyone else except myself
    • attendent : 3 p.p. prés. attendre, cf. wait, waitor, flying attendant
    • décantation : decanting, siphon off, drain
    • peut-être : perhaps
    • provisoire : tentative
    • quelque : somehow
    • il s’agit de : it a matter of
    • amorcées : amorcer, initiate, to begin
    • approfondissant : part. prés. approfondir, deepen, make furter
    • rebondissement : new development
    • imprévu : unexpected
    • laisser :


  • What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare. — William Henry Davies, Leisure. My Chinese rendition


  • 王维《过香积寺》,诗曰“泉声咽危石,日色冷青松”。
  • Rare footage of Xiangsheng performer Hou Baolin interviewed by China state TV. Chinese subtitle included. Any comments on the subtitles are very welcome.

    What he said about starving in the early days of his career as a Jingxi singer and his later personal encounters with statesmen says a lot about that country.

  • Pre-modern Chinese texts Chinese Text Project.
  • 元好問讚五臺山南臺錦繡峰,詩曰


Author: Yün Han

Emacs 26.1 (Org mode 9.2.3)