*The Doctor and the Monkey, 大夫和猴子

Eeps – bad medicine! In this story, the mischievous Monkey – always a trickster figure in Chinese stories – pulls the wool over Little Bear’s eyes. If Little Bear was American, he’d sue the hospital for negligence and rake in millions of baskets of peaches. Though the majority of this text is very basic reading, there are three phrases which jump out at me as being difficult, or words I couldn’t find in basic dictionaries.理所应当 – lǐ suǒ yīng dāng This phrase means to feel something is well-deserved, that something has been earned through hard work, usually when it actually hasn’t. So I guess that roughly translates to ‘taking a reward for granted’? In this story, Monkey feels that his payment is well-earned or well-deserved. But as readers, we know Monkey doesn’t deserve anything at all – he’s taking that payment for granted when he didn’t really earn it. Consider this phrase in another context:

别人帮助你那是义气,你不能当作是理所应当的。 – “When other people help you it’s in the spirit of self-sacrifice, you shouldn’t consider this something you deserve as a matter of course.”

甜 头 – Though this looks like two words, the first meaning “sweet” and the second meaning “head” or “brain”, it’s actually a colloquialism that just means “sweet flavor” or “pleasant taste”.

贪念 – These two characters also seem separate, they don’t appear together in my dictionary, but they’re actually one word. According to Baidu Bai Ke, the Baidu dictionary (a Chinese-language resource for word meanings and derivations), 贪念 tān niàn just means “greedy” (I presume the “念” probably adds the meaning “idea” or “thoughts” here, so 贪念 could be read as “greedy thoughts”).

You can read the original here.

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玩耍 – wán shuǎ – Enjoy oneself, mess around
白大褂子 – bái dà guà zi – White lab coat [lit: Large white unlined upper garment]
看病 – kàn bìng – See a doctor
酬金 – chóu jīn – monetary remuneration, payment
贪念 – tān niàn – Greedy
装模作样 – zhuāng mó zuò yàng – To put on an act
不得而知 – bù dé ér zhī – Can’t be known, unknowable
潜入 – qián rù – To sneak into
干脆 – gān cuì – Simply, straightbforward








Monkey went to the hospital on a lark, and entered the doctor’s room. At that moment, the doctor wasn’t in, and he’d left his [doctor’s] clothes in the room.

Monkey thought this would be fun, so he put on the doctor’s clothes, that white lab coat we see so often. Just then a little bear came to the hospital to see the doctor. This was the little bear’s first time at the hospital, and he didn’t know what hospitals were like [lit: didn’t know the hospital situation]. All he knew was that doctors wear white lab coats.

The little bear had shown up at the hospital carrying a basket of peaches (this was the payment he had prepared to give to the doctor), and he happened to walk into the room where Monkey was. Little Bear didn’t know Monkey, but he recognized the white lab coat, so he asked Monkey to examine him.

Monkey originally just [intended to] have a bit of fun, but when he saw Little Bear’s basket, he coveted it fiercely. So Monkey put on a big show of examining Little Bear, and accepted his well-earned basket of peaches. As to whether or not Monkey actually cured Little Bear, we will never know.

However, after Monkey tasted that sweetness, he often stole into the hospital, taking advantage of the doctor’s absence, and examined patients. Later, Monkey simply made himself one of those kind of white lab coats.

Ai! We don’t know how many people were examined by Monkey!

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