Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sa Dingding - Ha Ha Lili (The Story of Heaven and Earth/Tian Di Ji)

In the album's English tracklisting, this is called "Ha Ha Lili", in the Chinese, it is called 天地记, tian di ji, which is a... conceit? motif? whatever, in titles of stories, to end with ji which means "record". So for example, one of the titles of the story usually called Dream of the Red Chamber in English is shitou ji, "stone record", or, "The Story of the Stone". The word is also found in the title of Journey to the West in Chinese. So, a sense of ancient stories in this choice.

The music video is quite a trip.

传说中天与地连在一起 永不分离legend has it that heaven and earth were connected together and never separated
勤劳的人们和那些神奇的动物生活在山洞里 啊咿the hard-working people and those mystical animals lived in a cave, ayi
下过雨的清晨 一束光照着树神on an early rainy morning, a shining dryad1
远处传来隆隆的鼓声from a distant place sent the rumbling of drumbeats
沉沉的鼓声 阵阵震醒山洞里的人wave after wave of heavy drumbeats shook the people in the cave awake
墙上的预言这就要发生according to the prophecies on the wall, this would happen
沙啦啦啦啦 伴着节奏急促的脚步sha la la la la, quickened footsteps following the rhythm
沙啦啦啦啦 人们的心在跳 跳sha la la la la, people's hearts jumping, jumping2
沙啦啦啦啦 金色公鸡带来了传奇sha la la la la, a golden rooster brings about the legend
分开了天地the parting of heaven and earth
ha li li ha li etc.ha li li, ha li etc
从那天起人们走出了山洞beginning that day, people walked out of the cave
和山神和树神住在一起and lived together with the oreads and dryads1
从那天起人们走出了山洞beginning that day, people walked out of the cave
和大自然完美的在一起and were perfectly together with Nature3
1. I'm choosing to translate the literal "mountain spirit and tree spirit" as oread and dryad because... I can? LOL. IDK, I always liked the "fairy" translation of xian too, rather than the more common "immortal".
2. The word for heartbeat in Chinese is xintiao, "heart jump", and the tiao can also mean dance. I think the insertion of the tense marker makes it more forceful and pushes it from "heartbeat" to "heart jump".
3. Nature with a capital N. Like earth (soil) versus Earth (the planet). This is almost like Mother Nature, but without the personification of the English idiom.


  1. Hi:

    I started to learn Putonghua a week ago. I love Sa Ding Ding's music and I'd like to get the lyrics of Ha ha li li in pinyin. As you are an advance Mandarin Chinese speaker, would you tell me where I can find it? I try to look for it on the net, but as I know just 30 characters, for me is imposible. Thanks a lot:


    My mail is, just in case you want to answer me. Thanks again

  2. Hi!

    Its great to see one of her songs translated. The lyrics are quite good too. I am always scared when I se translations of chinese songs, in case the lyrics are bad or not what i imagined at all xD

    But, there are parts of the song not in the lyrics. At the beginning (before singing) it sound slike she says "saho li".
    Also, around 1:35, it sounds like she is saying somehthing like "ai sashidei, sashidorei, sashidorei". Any idea what it means? Or is it just a sound (like the ha ha li li part)?

    Do you ahve any plans translating her other videos? I think there are two more.

  3. Hi Noah and Denadel. :)
    Noah: If you do a Google search for "pinyin generator" and copy/paste the Chinese lyrics I've given here into one, it should help. I'm sorry I don't have the time/energy to do pinyin of it myself right now. I find writing pinyin really tedious, and I have to be in the right mood to do it.

    Denadel: I actually just did a translation of the Chinese version of "Holy Incense", and I've done a translation of "Alive" as well. I'll post them up on this blog shortly.

    Thanks for reading :D

  4. Oh, and denadel, as regarding the stuff not in the lyrics, all I can say is that that stuff isn't in the CD booklet. Therefore, my guess is that it is either meaningless sounds, or another language altogether.

  5. I was thinking the same thing, that it might be made up pr another language. She sings in Tibetian or sanskrit, and I know she has her own language. So that is probably what it is.

    Thank you for the translation of holy incense!
    It is hard coming across chinese translations, and yours are really good. I am glad I found your site, and I am looking forward to future updates :)

  6. Thanks both for your support. So Sa Ding Ding does the same thing that Massive Attack in the song "Feather" (House soundtrack)?. Funny!!