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feihong

Grand Chinese Lyrics Project

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feihong

What is it? This is a series of posts focusing on Chinese lyrics. Kind of like song of the day, but with a greater focus on the lyrics rather than the song itself.
Why? You can think of the words to a song as being a short monologue, dialogue, story, or even opinion piece. As such, they are worthy of study, and since they're set to music, they hold up better to numerous repeated listens.
How? We paste the lyrics into each post and provide a link so you can listen to the song in your browser or relevant app. Ideally the poster will write a short summary of what they think the song is about.
Hard? Depends greatly on the song. But since most song lyrics are pretty short, reading lyrics is much easier than reading a comic or novel.
When? Whenever someone feels like posting a new lyrics project.
Where? Check out the index below. It contains links to the songs as well as our discussions.
What now? Pick a song that seems interesting, or perhaps just the most recent one. Give it a quick listen to see how much you can understand, then listen to it again while reading the lyrics. Tell us what you thought, and post questions if you have them. 
How do I help? You can make vocab lists, translate some lines to English, suggest songs we should include, write reading comprehension questions, etc. This is a decentralized project, anyone is free to post a song as long as they remember to include the lyrics.
 

Index

 

July 14, 2019. Asshole, I Miss You. Li Yuchun tells us what it's like to be in love with assholes. A cool-as-ice antidote to sappy Mandopop love songs. Listen. Discussion

August 6, 2019. Hooligan Song AKA Roamer Watch. Common People rails against excessive materialism and beauty standards, along with the jerks who perpetuate them. Listen. Discussion

July 15, 2019. WeChat Romance. Kong Daning tells a funny story about an online romance that threatens to break into the real world. Listen. Discussion.

August 7, 2019. #imissyousobad. AstroBunny gives us a bittersweet dialogue between two would-be lovers who can’t use modern technology to overcome the distance between them. Listen. Discussion.

July 21, 2019. Impostor Monk. Hua Chenyu takes us into the mind of a wandering monk who’s not what he seems. Listen. Discussion.

August 3, 2019. Allure of the Secular World. Xiaoyue Laoban tells the story of a monk and nun who can’t keep earthly desires out of their lives. Listen. Discussion.

July 23, 2019. The Valley Folk. Xiao Juan and the Valley Folk sing a story about... themselves? Listen. Discussion.
August 4, 2019. West Mountain Song. Guan Wenzhuo sings a simple song about traveling in sorrow. Listen. Discussion.

July 28, 2019. Blind Man and Lady Cross the Sea. Zhong Lifeng tells a simple story of romance on the high seas. Listen. Discussion.

August 12, 2019. Big Snow Loves Spring. Blind masseuse Hong Shanxue sings a song about himself. Listen. Discussion.

August 16, 2019. I'm a Strange Child. Wang Shengnan gives us a tour inside the mind of a self-described strange child. Listen. Discussion

August 19, 2019. Snail, Ant, and Hedgehog. Liao Juanjia delivers an urban fantasy featuring a menagerie of metaphoric animals. Listen. Discussion

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feihong

I've re-numbered the individual posts so that songs with common themes are grouped together numerically. That's also why the songs are no longer listed in chronological order.

 

On a side note, this project has really motivated me to pay more attention to the lyrics in my Chinese music collection. I've since discovered that some of the songs I have are not about what I thought they were about. For example, that song about a caged bird? It's actually about internet addiction! That song about "steel teeth"? It's actually the diary of a girl with braces!

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feihong

Hello, I have been diligently plugging away at Chinese lyrics translations on the aforementioned blog. I’ve been publishing at the rate of once a week, and I’ve actually pre-loaded posts all the way into January of 2020. I’m curious if anyone would like to help out? I already have more than 100 songs picked out, so I don’t really need recommendations, but there is still quite a lot of work to do:

 

- Converting lyrics from traditional to simplified

- Fixing grammar mistakes in lyrics

- Fixing typos in lyrics

- Breaking up lyrics into stanzas

 

And after all that comes the hard work of translating!


- Annotate lines with explanations of obscure words, place names, and other things that might be a barrier to translation

- Translate each line (I tend to do it over several passes, improving it a bit each time)

- Proofread each line

- In some cases, offer an alternate translation that reads less idiomatically in English but conveys the meaning more precisely

- Review translations with a native speaker

- Provide a tagline in English that serves as the title of the blog post

- Provide a clip range that generates a small MP3 file that allows the listener to hear one or two verses along with the chorus line

 

If you’re interested in the thankless task of translating Chinese song lyrics, shoot me a private message or leave a comment in this thread.

 

As an enticement, here are some samples of lines you might encounter:

 

命如细琴弦,卖唱如行乞


你哥我可是撩妹界中的戰鬥機

 

不好意思关你屁事

 

I tried my best to pick songs that have interesting lyrics that would be fun or challenging to translate. I also tried to pick songs with diverse topics or themes, so the vocabulary is quite varied.

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