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年獸的傳說 / 年兽的传说 - Short Story for 2014


Meng Lelan
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Good first short story and nice timing with Chinese new year coming up.  Living in China for quite some time I feel a bit embarrassed that I've never read this before and didn't know some of the details within.

 

I knew that during Chinese New Year the fireworks were to scare the demons away, but I didn't know the story behind it.  Also, I feel really embarrassed that I didn't know the original reason of the 春联.  I see them and read them every year finding them fascinating, but had no idea that was the original reason. 

 

Love learning something new - Thanks!

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Glad you liked it, thanks for letting me know. I picked this one because I felt that story stories need to contain some kind of common cultural knowledge that the Chinese are exposed to from an early age onward. And stories are a good vehicle for imparting common cultural knowledge. 

 

About halfway down this website is an embedded video of a skit based on this story. 

http://blogs.transparent.com/chinese/spring-festival-part-one/

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Good stuff, thanks for sharing. However, I often find with these stories explaining traditional aspects of Chinese culture (including 成语故事), although they're aimed at children, the language used is far from elementary to a non-native speaker (to be fair, the same is true of traditional fairy stories in English). Do you or anyone else know of a resource which explains these stories in more straightforward language?

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I did think this particular one may be very challenging for a beginner and have been looking for a version that is much shorter and in simpler language. However I did propose for the beginners two other alternatives, 杯弓蛇影 and 井底之蛙  (try to read them in the Tales and Traditions edition where the language is shorter and simpler).  I am still splitting off stories, so bear with me and in a while you will see "split offs" on those two other stories later today. Also, if you encounter problems in a certain story (for example trying to understand an idiom or an idea embedded in the story) you are more than welcome to post in here and surely someone will come by to help out. 

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No intractable problems with the language in this one, just having to look a lot of stuff up. (Oh also, I think 腊烛 in the simplified version is a typo, should be 蜡烛 .)

 

Any rate, great stuff posting them, and none of this is meant as a criticism directed at you, just at myself for my poor level of reading comprehension, hehe.

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Ok, I finally dug out an old storybook in Chinese that I used to read to my tots long ago. The language is more suitable to beginners who know vocabulary related to Chinese New Year traditions, exclamatory markers like 啊 and 呀 and  啦, and 沿袭 means to carry on. The story appeared in simplified so here is the simplified. Enjoy this version. 

 

 

 

每年, 当月亮第十二次变圆后没多久, “哇呀呀!”年兽就会从黑黑的海底跑到地上来。 村里的猪啊, 牛啊, 羊啊, 都被年兽吃掉了!

 

这一年, 当村民打算逃命的时候, 有个老乞丐敲着竹杖说, “我有办法!”。

 

“在大门上贴红纸, 挂红灯笼, 保管年兽不敢来!”

老乞丐还叫大家在外面放鞭炮。

 

年兽说,“呜, 什么东西啊???好可怕, 刺得眼睛好疼啊, 震得耳朵也好疼啊, 头都疼啦!我不敢在这里待下去啦!”

 

后来, 人们为了纪念打跑年兽的日子, 就把那天叫做“过年”, 并把放鞭炮和贴对联等习俗沿袭下来。

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And if you are reading the above selection here are reading comprehension questions for you. 

1. This story is describing something that used to happen every when?

2.Where is the monster coming from? What does the monster do?

3. So who saves the villagers from the monster?

4. What does this person tell them to do to keep the monster away?

5. What is the monster's reaction to their new strategies?

6. So now explain the origin of the phrase 过年.

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I think I once read a version of this story in which the monster eats children instead of farm animal, but well, same difference. I could be wrong but I've always thought that this looks like an origin story well after the fact, ie the fireworks and chunlian are way, way older than the concept of the Nian Beast.

 

A very 口语 version this, also with the ... 啊,... 啊,... 啊 to denote items on a list.

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There are different versions of this story but they all explain how 过年 customs originated. This version where the monster eats farm animals is the one I read to my kids because I did not think I wanted to read them a story about a monster eating children, obviously you don't want to scare the tiny tots too much. 

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Just taking a look to see how we are all doing with this story and was wondering if you are all ready for another new story for me to throw in here after the Chuntacular! However I will keep this thread open and going through the year 2014 in case newcomers come in here to give this one a try. This story about the Nian monster is appropriate reading around Chinese New Year time but anyone is welcome to come in here anytime during 2014 to read and discuss. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I enjoyed this very much, I have learned just how much I need to improve my word comprehension as apposed to my my character comprehension. I read the simplified version you posted in the first post.

 

A simple story, but the first thing like this I have done for a few years since I stopped going to classes and have been studying on my own.

 

Having had a very busy January at work and getting a bout of the dreaded tummy bug and then getting an infected foot that left me unable to walk properly for a couple of days I am now fit and ready for another story.

 

i found being able to answer the comprehension question you posted was very satisfying.

 

Thank you Meng Lelan.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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