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Stepping Stones Lesson Eight

Audio Immersion  |  Audio Practice  |  Vocabulary Study  |  Vocabulary Review
Reading Practice  |  Exercises  |  Stepping Stones Home

Duke Ye Likes Dragons

Study the vocabulary for one line of the story along with the English translation of that line. You may want to go back to the previous step so you can listen to the line and practice reading it aloud. When you can read the line comfortably and with full comprehension, go on to the next line.


Duke Ye Likes Dragons


Long ago there was a man named Duke Ye,


and he very much liked dragons.


In his home there were paintings of dragons everywhere.


One day,


a real dragon up in Heaven heard of this,


and right away left for Duke Ye’s home to visit him.


As soon as the real dragon’s head appeared at his window,


Duke Ye was so scared


that his face went white and he couldn’t move.


New Vocabulary

Click on any character to see how it is written. Click on any character's pinyin to hear how it is pronounced.

While learning to write the characters is not essential to learning to read them, it helps a lot and is highly recommended. Practice writing each yourself 5-10 times, being careful to follow the stroke order shown in the animation.

(adj) public (in Modern Chinese); (n.) duke
(adj., complement) good; well; fully
(adv.) from; (v.) to follow

(n., adj.) front, ahead, before, the past

(n.) place; spot
(indicates present progressive, similar to “ing”in English
(v.) to come
(adj.) true; real
(v.) to go (to)
(v.) to look (at); to watch; to visit
(n.) head; (front/beginning)
(v.) to appear; to happen
(locative) at
(v.) to scare; to be scared
(indicates that the previous verb is being elaborated upon)
(n.) face; surface
as if
(n.) color
(v.) to move
(n.) leaf; surname Ye
(n.) dragon
(v.) to be called; to call (out); to yell
(v.) to like; to enjoy
(v.) to paint; to draw; (n.) a painting; a drawing
(n.) a window
(n., adj.) earth; soil; dirt; ground

Vocabulary Notes

叶公好龙 is another example of a Classical Chinese idiom, called a 成语(chéngyǔ). 成语 are commonly used in everyday life situations to explain complex situations with remarkable brevity. Our story involves a man who purports to love dragons, but is scared to death when a dragon presents itself. 叶公好龙 is used to describe a person who claims to be fond of something which they are actually afraid of.
公 is a character with many meanings. In Chinese, context is essential, as many words sound the same. In this case, even the same character has several meanings. In Modern Chinese, 公 means “public” and also refers to the metric system by extension. For example, 公里 means “kilometer” because it is the “public mile.” 公 can also be a polite form of address for an older male. In Classical Chinese, however,  公 is actually a feudal title and is typically translated into English as “duke.”

好 is an example of a 多音字, or multi-phonetic character. When pronounced hǎo, it is an adjective meaning “good.” However, when pronounced hào, it is a verb, meaning “to like.”

从. In Modern Chinese, this word simply means “from.” It’s original meaning was a verb, “to follow.”
前后:The two words are opposites and should be completely memorized. 前 means “front” and 后 means “back.” They deviate somewhat from English, as 前 refers to the past and 后 refers to the future.

He; She; It: Modern Chinese only has a single 3rd person pronoun, pronounced tā. Therefore, aurally, tā could mean “he” or “she” or “it.” For the sake of translating Western literature, which is heavily reliant on words such as “he,” “she,” and “it,” the Chinese devised multiple ways to write this single phoneme. They are listed below:

他 means “he,” since it has the radical for man 人.
她 means “she,” since it has the radical for woman 女.
*牠 “it,” referring to animals, which has the cow radical 牛 *(only used in Traditional Chinese)
它 means “it,” referring to all creatures that are less than human, like insects or objects
祂 means “He,” referring to the Christian God. Used in Chinese Bibles. Has the God radical 示.

Again, when spoken, there is no different. There is only an artificial different created through writing.

家 can refer to one’s home (the building) or one’s family (家人).

处 is yet another 多音字. Chù means a “place”; “a spot.” Chǔ is a verb, meaning “to deal with” or “to handle.”

都 dōucan mean “both” (2 people) or “all” (3 or more people). Dū means “city.”

多音字。Although a fair number of Chinese characters have multiple pronunciations, the vast majority of characters only have one or two pronunciations. 着 is an exceptional example, with four pronunciations with four separate meanings.

zhe (indicates present progress, like is …+ing in English
zháo means “to touch” (or by extention, “to reach a state of”
zhuó means “to apply”
zhāo (also commonly written 招) is a measure word for moves in Chinese Chess

去来 is yet another pair of opposites that should be memorized. 去 indicates motion away from the speaker, whereas 来 indicates motion toward the speaker.

Measure Word for 龙:The measure word for long, slender objects, like a Chinese dragon, is 条 tiáo 。Below are some examples of other words that also use 条 tiáo as a measure word.

一条龙                             yì tiáo long                  a dragon
一条鱼                             yì tiáo yú                     a fish
一条路                             yì tiáo lù                      a road
一条河                             yì tiáo hé                     a river
一条裤子                         yì tiáo kùzi                   a pair of pants

Once you've studied the vocabulary and can read each line of the story with comprehension, you are ready to go on to the next step.