The Riddles of The Hobbit – Part One

So a good few months ago now I decided to buy the Chinese version of The Hobbit (哈比人歷險記) in an almost last ditch attempt to find a novel I could enjoy reading in Chinese. Fiction can be pretty tough going in a foreign language, lots of juicy adjectives and so on, but I decided to at least give it a bash.

The Hobbit

I’ve always loved the riddles in the book between Bilbo and Gollum so I thought here on ChineseHacks I might do a short mini-series introducing them in Mandarin.

So, without further ado, here is the first one:



hézi méiyǒu gàizi 、suǒkǒng hé jiǎoliàn 、dàn lǐmiàn què cángyǒu jīnhuángsè de bǎocáng

Below I’ve picked out some keywords and included Google image results. This can be quite useful when you come across words that you can’t find in the dictionary or even after looking up, you still aren’t clear exactly what it is. For the life of me, I could not find 絞鍊 (绞炼 jiǎo liàn)in a dictionary anywhere! (it seems that the 鍊 can vary and sometimes 鏈(链) is used instead – see Wikipedia)


Pinyin: hé zi
English: a small box


Pinyin: gài zi
English: a lid/cover


Pinyin: suǒ kǒng
English: a keyhole


Pinyin: jiǎo liàn
English: a hinge, also 絞鏈(绞链)


Pinyin: bǎo cáng
English: treasure

藏(cáng) suggests “hidden away or concealed” such as 臥虎藏龍(卧虎藏龙 wò hŭ cáng lóng) “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or 我用隱藏 (我用隐藏 wǒ yòng yǐn cáng)to be invisible on MSN.

The original English version:

“A box without hinges, key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid”.

And no, I am not going to tell you the answer! 🙂

Stay tuned for the rest of the riddles in the coming weeks.

4 responses to “The Riddles of The Hobbit – Part One

  1. This is a cool idea! I have one of those kids book of fairy tales with pinyin and characters I’ve been planning to translate into English, I figured it would be a fun way to learn more Chinese. Though I haven’t done it yet…

  2. Hello Sasha!

    I love old fairy tales, I have a small collection of some kid’s books I bought in Taiwan, the Tiger Grandma one almost gave me nightmares. It was hilariously graphic for a children’s book!

    By the way, you never told us the answer to the riddle!


  3. Tolkien is challenging enough in English! I’ve been sticking with short story collections, I know it doesn’t make any difference if the whole collection is the same length as a fullsize novel, but psycologically it feels less daunting.

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