Monday, 13 May 2013

A Chinese Joke / Folk Song - Updated on Valentine's Day 2016

There seems to be no translation into English, nor explanation, of this funny Chinese song on Youtube: 

so here's the gist of it and some background info at the end!

The song is sung in the Yunnan dialect, which I had to decipher with the help of subtitles. It features three characters: Little Big Brother, Fat Sister and Younger Sister.

[Update, Valentine's Day 2016: This is apt for Valentine's Day methinks. A source from China has provided an explanation into Standard Chinese here, and my updated translation into English is based on that source's explanation. AND THAT SOURCE HAS PROVIDED THE FINAL VERSE OF THE SONG!!! :-D Enjoy! :-)]

Title: Hit the turtledove first to reveal its plier-plucked feathers 

Younger Sister: Little Big Brother, come and listen to Younger Sister as she tells you / not to laugh at Younger Sister for being a bag of bones / skinny people are so very good-looking / [Update: (you're such a plonker that Younger Sister) isn't willing to even let you smell (her) farts]

Man (Little Big Brother): The sun is red when it rises / I have a small turtledove nesting at home / the mouth of this turtledove is most clingy [Update: (selective?)] / it only eats little mudskippers from Little Sister's home

Fat Sister: Listen to me, kiddo / how can piss be drunk as water? / Younger Sister's in a strange mood / [update: (she'll)] take and cut you up

Man: This fat cow has no shame / why should the turtledove be caught? / be careful of the turtledove taking flight / and pecking the little mudskippers in your home.

[Spoken interlude: I'm guessing the guy is asking Fat Sister to continue the song.]

Fat Sister: Little Big Brother is shy when he speaks / you say you have a nest with a small turtledove / be careful of Younger Sister catching you / and [update: helping to] pluck the feathers (hairs) off until your body is bare

Man: Don't boast, fat cow / I have a small handgun / I'll aim the gun squarely / at your head and shoot
Fat Sister: Younger Sister's house is open to you / if only you dare to fly over / if you don't believe this, take a look / hit the turtledove first to reveal its plier-plucked feathers

Man: I'll stand on a high mountain and shoot once / the shot will reverberate everywhere / ears will be covered to listen to that noise / which will cause Fat Little Sister to quake so much, she'll shout that she's flustered

Fat Sister: You may have a small handgun / but I have a pair of hands / if you aim the barrel of that gun at me / I'll rip the gun in half and toss it aside

Man: It doesn't matter if you're satisfied and willing or not / you go crazy in bright daylight / I'll kick up a fuss tonight until you admit defeat / and will yourself not to eat anything for three days

Younger Sister: Not being willing equals not being satisfied / Younger Sister has been thinking of you for a few nights now / at least she got to see you today / and to ask if you knew how (to set traps? [Update: my source says they have never heard of 打干绊.])

Man: I went to Younger Sister's house the night before / and saw Younger Sister giving birth to a baby / whose rough feet and large hands were like mine / but whose fine skin and paleness was like his (or her) mother's

[Spoken interlude: I'm guessing Younger Sister is asking Fat Sister to continue as she can't rebut Little Big Brother, but Fat Sister tells her to keep on singing.]

Younger Sister: This Little Big Brother shouldn't boast too much about himself / he's too young and his body is reedy / if you don't believe this, wait and see / him running around and shouting for his parents

Man: I advise you, Younger Sister, not to prostitute yourself / if you prostitute yourself you'll catch an STD that's hard to cure / I can see that you'll be very sick,
Younger Sister / and the King of the Dead will want to take that one life of yours

Fat Sister: I went to Big Brother's house yesterday / watched Big Brother cut up some beef jerky / you didn't cut the beef jerky up, Big Brother / instead, you kept holding onto it

Man: You're talking nonsense, you fat cow / when this audience starts spreading rotten medicine (the wrong medicine) / your nerves will get frazzled and you'll try to hook me / you'll take off your trousers to scare me 

[Update:  撒烂药  literally means 'spreading rotten medicine / the wrong medicine' and my source says that this is a metaphor which equates to 'spreading malicious gossip about someone', in this case the man.]

Woman: I advise you, Little Big Brother, not to be a skirt-chaser / your lust will lead to illnesses which will cause flesh to become numb and devoid of sensation / Elder Sister, I will visit you / treat (?light, as in 'not serious'?) brains like a pole (that is) to (be) climb(ed)]

This style of music is called shange 山歌 'mountain song'. The tune and lyrics are improvised, and whilst the lyrics will always differ, the tunes have a characteristic flourish to them. It's like listening to country and western, or blues, or rock and roll, and knowing what genre of song you're listening to.

Each song may be a love song, a verbal duel of wits or simply a means of communication between two or more people who are great distances away from each other. It used to be sung by peasants, and always consists of rhyming couplets.

The leader and the respondent can either be an individual or a group. There's a refrain between verses, like 'ey', 'hey ya ya yo', 'heeeeyyyy', 'hey hey yo', 'yo yo ee', or 'Eeyore, Eeyore', which serves the same purpose as the the 'na na na' bit in Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out of My Head'.

Spoken interludes which either egg someone to continue the song or tease them are present, and sometimes there will be a message at the end, with the beginning and middle consisting of metaphors and allusions.   

My grandparents used to sing similar songs with much blander lyrics than this one, which is from Yunnan 云南 in Southern China. 

I actually think this song is a new and most unusual way of preventing STDs :-) so to the person who uploaded it first, you have all my respect :-). And if anyone has the lyrics to the last verse, that'd be cool, too :-). [Update: Found it! Thank you for posting the last verse, mate!]

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