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Beautiful Chinese Words (Part 4)
失去 (shī qù) “to lose (something)”
This word does not encompass as many definitions as the English “to lose.” You cannot use it to talk about a misplaced item or a lost competition; the loss described by 失去 (shī qù) is more complex than that. It might be used to describe a lost sense of smell, lost ability, lost time, lost sense of self, or any other abstract ideas. For example, there is a song called 《失去爱的城市》(shī qù ài de chéng shì) “City of Lost Love” or “City Without Love,” and one lyric goes:
我在失去爱的城市里 挨了冻吹了风看透了你 (wǒ zài shī qù ài de chéng shì lǐ, ái le dòng chūi le fēng kàn tòu le nǐ) = In the city of lost love, I endured frost, the biting wind, and saw through you.
渴望 (kě wàng) “to thirst for, long for”
We saw 望 (wàng) “to look toward, gaze” used earlier in 遥望 (yáo wàng) “to look into the distance.” 望 (wàng) also has a more metaphorical meaning, “to hope,” and this is used extensively in various word formations. 渴 (kě) “thirsty” thus naturally combines with 望 (wàng) to make 渴望 (kě wàng) “to thirst for, long for,” as in to long deeply and desperately--for someone special, for a purpose, for meaning. On the flipside, you have the word 绝望 (júe wàng) “to despair, give up all hope.”
心塞 (xīn sāi) “to feel stifled, feel crushed”
This word directly describes its meaning in a way that is elegant in its straightforwardness. 塞 (sāi) means “to stop up, stuff,” so when you get a cold, 鼻子塞 (bí zi sāi) “stuffy nose” might be one of your symptoms. 心塞 (xīn sāi) literally means that your heart is stopped up, clogged, and stifled, evoking the vivid imagery of a heart’s veins stuffed full of sadness.
寂寞 (jì mò) “lonely, lonesome, silent”
Any Chinese learner who uses music to learn will undoubtedly come across this word in a song. 寂寞 (jì mò) combines 寂 (jì) “still, silent, quiet, desolate” and 寞 (mò) “still, silent, solitary” to make a word that expresses absolute isolation, both in mind and in body.
Here’s a song lyric of popular band Sodagreen:
偌大的房,寂寞的床 (ruò dà de fáng, jì mò de chuáng) = Such a big room, a lonely bed.
And another from pop artist Hebe Tian:
我寂寞寂寞就好,你真的不用来我回忆微笑 (wǒ jì mò jì mò jiù hǎo, nǐ zhēn de bú yòng lái wǒ huí yì lǐ wēi xiào) = I’m fine alone, you really don’t need to come into my memories with your smile.
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