×
logo
Store Digital Issue Subscribe now
•••

"Native Beijinger" by Zhang Bohong

A few years ago, an 18-year-old musical artist by the name of Zhang Bohong (张伯宏)produced the song 《 北京土著 》 ("Běijīng Tǔzhù," "Native Beijinger"), which encapsulates the capital city's culture and fully exploits the ubiquitous Beijing "er".

11·01·2010

Admittedly, “Music Mondays” has had issues lifting off…  Hopefully you can forgive us here at The World of Chinese for leaving you hanging after listening to this foot-tapping rap.

A few years ago, an 18-year-old musical artist by the name of Zhang Bohong (张伯宏)produced the song 《 北京土著 》 (“Běijīng Tǔzhù,” “Native Beijinger”), which encapsulates the capital city’s culture and fully exploits the ubiquitous Beijing “er”.  According to my native Beijing friend, if you can memorize and understand the lyrics to this song, you can call yourself a true “Beijing tuzhu(r)“.

Here are the lyrics if you have the skill to sing along…  And don’t miss the new vocabulary list at the bottom!

First Chorus:

Slice me a piece of watermelon, about four or five liang
Qiē yí piànr xīgua sì wǔ liǎng
切一片西瓜四五两

Only the truly thin-skin watermelon comes with this crisp and grainy texture
Zhēnzhèng de bó pí cuì shārángr
真正的薄皮脆沙瓤(儿)

When the scent of jasmine wafts in the tea room of the siheyuan
Dāng sìhéyuànr de cháfáng piāozhe mòlìhuār xiāng
当四合院的茶房飘着茉莉花儿香

One forgets all the heat of the summer
Xiàtiān de yánrè quánbù bèi yíwàng diào
夏天的炎热全部被遗忘掉

Pour a glass of fine wine as your thoughts wander afar
Zhuó yì bēi jiāniàng piāo yuǎnfāng
酌一杯佳酿漂远方

The senses are drunk with the fragrance of the wine steeped within the hutong alleys
Hútòngr lǐ jǐuxiāng zuì rén cháng
胡同里酒香醉人肠

As the sun sets at the corner of the old city wall that echoes with the beat of the toy rattle-drum
Dāng lǎo chéngjiǎor de xīyáng huídàng bōlànggǔr xiǎng
当老城角的夕阳回荡拨浪鼓儿响

This native Beijinger feels a little sad
Běijīng de tǔzhù yǒu yìdiǎndiǎn gǎn-shāng
北京的土著有一点点感伤

 

Verse I:

Squatting alone at the corner of the wall, receiving
Wǒ yí gè rénr dūn zài qiánggēnr méi rén der
我一个人蹲在墙根儿没人der

With eyes unseeing and confusion in my heart
Yǎnjīng lèngzhe shénr xīnzhōng nàzhe menr
眼睛愣着神儿心中纳着闷儿

Why do I feel so weary today?
Zěnme jīntiān de wǒ zhème méiyǒu jīngqì shénr you
怎么今天的我这么没有精气神儿哟

Feels like I lost my soul while writing my lyrics
Hǎoxiàng xiě gēcír xiědiūle húnr you
好像写歌词写丢了魂儿哟

A wonton stall by the roadside in the early morning
Dàqīngzǎo lùbiānr de húndùntānr
大清早路边的馄饨摊儿

A farmer rides a three-wheeled handcart as he pulls his load of bricks to work
Yí ge bǎnrnong qízhe bǎnrchē lāzhe bǎnrzhuān shàngbānr
一个板儿农骑着板儿车拉着板儿砖上班

A bowl of jellied beancurd costs a dollar
Dòufùnǎor yí kuài qián yì wǎnr
豆腐脑一块钱一碗

The music of a Pekingese big drum storyteller rings in the air
Fēngshēng zhōng piāozhe Jīngyùn dàgǔ de xiǎoduànr
风声中飘着京韵大鼓的形

Drink a bowl of sour soy juice with a fried ring of dough
Hē yì wǎn dòuzhīr jiù yí gè jiāoquānr
喝一碗豆汁就一个焦圈

Dregs of oil scented with malt heave in porcelain jars with floral design
Qīnghuār cíguànr gǔnzhe màiyárxiāng de yóuzhār
青花瓷罐滚着麦芽香的油渣

A hawker at the entrance of a hutong alley is stringing candied haws
Hútòngkǒur de xiǎofànr chuānzhe bīngtáng húlùchùanr
胡同口的蟹串着冰糖葫芦串

There’s a photo of Ma Sanli displayed at the teahouse nearby
Pángbiānr de cháguǎnr bǎizhe yì zhāng Mǎ Sānlì de xiàngpiānr
旁边的茶馆摆着一张马三立的相片

The vats are deeper than the basins, the basins are deeper than the bowls, the bowls are deeper than the plates
Gāng bǐ pénr shēn, pénr bǐ wǎnr shēn, wǎnr bǐ diézi shēn
缸比盆深盆比碗深碗比碟子深

After being left there for so many years, they’re still so funny…
Yí fàng hǎoduō nián tā háishì zhème gén na
一放好多年它还是这么哏那

Native Beijingers, pay attention
Běijīng de tǔzhù pay attention
北京的土著pay attention

 

[Repeat First Chorus]

Verse II:

Squat when you’re tired of standing, sit when you’re tired from squatting
Zhànlèile dūnzhe, dūnlèile zuòzhe
站累了蹲着蹲累了坐着

Lie down when you’re tired of sitting, lie prone when you’re tired from lying down
Zuòlèile tǎngzhe, tǎnglèile pāzhe
坐累了躺着躺累了趴着<

Sleep when you’re tired of lying prone, nap when you’re unable to sleep
Pālèile shùizhe, shùibùzháo mīzhe
趴累了睡着睡不着眯着

Keeping a myna brings special prestige
Yǎng yì zhī bāgēr shì bèir yǒu miànzi
养一只八哥是倍有面子

Be kind and generous and courteous too
Zuòrén yào hòudào yào zhīdào lǐmào
做人要厚道要知道礼貌

Greet others kindly and never, ever be late
Jiàn rén yào wènhǎo, qiānwàn bú yào chídào
见人要问好千万不要迟到

Keeping score only means making trouble for yourself
Jīnjīn jìjiào zhǐ huì zìxún fánnǎo
斤斤计较只会自寻烦恼

Better to smile and the world turns, infinitely beautiful
Bùrú wēixiào shìjiè wúxiàn měihǎo
不如微笑世界无限美好

There’s an old man in the park, hand in hand with his old wife
Gōngyuán lǐ lǎotóur qiānzhe tā de lǎobànr
公园里老头牵着他的老伴

About eighty years old and he still looks so suave
Qī bā shí suì zǒuqǐ lù lái háishì nàme yǒu fànr
七八十岁走起路来还是那么有范

Sucking on a popsicle and wearing a vest
Hén yì gēn bīnggùnr chuān yì jiànr bèixīnr
含一根冰棍穿一件背心

Bloodlines run pure at the home of Peking Man
Zhōukǒudiàn de xuětǒng shì fēicháng de chúnzhèng
周口店的血统是非常的纯正

 

Second Chorus:

At the side of the Right-Right-Right-Right Gate of Peace
Jiù zài nà Yòu-Yòu-Yòu-Yòu’ānmén de pángbiānr
就在那右右右右安门的旁边

There’s a shop selling “Dog-Dog-Dog-Dog Wouldn’t-Notice” buns
Yǒu yì jiā Gǒu-Gǒu-Gǒu-Gǒu bùlǐ de bāozir
有一家狗狗狗狗不理的包子

Buy half a jin of sliced-sliced-sliced-sliced glutinous cake
Qiē-qiē-qiē-qiēgāo mǎile bàn jīnr
切切切切糕买了半斤

Spend a day free from worries at the Heavenly Bridge, just like an immortal
Guàng yí ge Tiānqiáo hǎosì shénxiān
逛一个天桥好似神仙

At the side of the Right-Right-Right-Right Gate of Peace
Jiù zài nà Yòu-Yòu-Yòu-Yòu’ānmén de pángbiānr。
就在那右右右右安门的旁边

There’s a shop selling “Dog-Dog-Dog-Dog Wouldn’t-Notice” buns
Yǒu yì jiā Gǒu-Gǒu-Gǒu-Gǒu bùlǐ de bāozir
有一家狗狗狗狗不理的包子

Buy half a jin of sliced-sliced-sliced-sliced glutinous cake
Qiē-qiē-qiē-qiēgāo mǎile bàn jīnr
切切切切糕买了半斤

Spend a day free from worries at the Heavenly Bridge, just like an immortal
Guàng yí ge Tiānqiáo hǎosì shénxiān
逛一个天桥好似神仙

 

[Repeat First Chorus two times]

Note—clunky words to translate:

  • 两 liǎng—the equivalent of 50 grams
  • 儿 ér—this word means as much as dropping an “r” in the Boston accent.  It’s clipped onto words in the Beijing accent because… because Beijingers can.
  • 四合院 sìhéyuàn—a traditional form of Beijing residential architecture with four buildings surrounding a central courtyard.
  • 胡同 hútòng—traditional Beijing alleyway neighborhood
  • 焦圈(儿) jiāoquān(r)—circular fried dough (a traditional Beijing snack)
  • 马三立 Mǎ Sānlì—famous crosstalk performer born in Beijing (1914-2003)
  • 周口店 Zhōukǒudiàn—the place where the bones of the Peking Man were discovered.
  • 狗不理包子 Gǒubùlǐ bāozi—famous brand of steamed buns originally from Tianjin that eventually dispersed shops all throughout China
  • 斤 jīn—the equivalent of 500 grams
  • 切糕 qiēgāo—cake made of glutinous rice and sold in sliced pieces (another famous Beijing snack)
  • 天桥 Tiānqiáo—the Heavenly Bridge was an area of old Beijing where street artists congregated and entertainment could be found, which has since been reopened as a tourist attraction

Happy Monday, and heck, happy November 1 to you all!

 

How about some Mongolian pop music?

Follow us

Subscribe to out newsletter

  • Ad
  • The World of Chinese, Mar-Apr 2017: Fantasy
    Current Issue
    The World of Chinese, Mar-Apr 2017: Fantasy
    Subscribe Buy it now
    Related Article

    Peking Will Get 'Rubber Duck'ed

    Petitioners' Tales: Vol. 7

    Beijing's Haunted House

    UPDATED: Part of Beijing under terrorism lockdown

    Comment