The Riddles of the Hobbit – Part Two

Right, the next riddle in this series of posts – by the way, if you’re a die hard Hobbit fan you’ll notice these are out of order, so apologies ahead of time!

The Hobbit

First off, here is the riddle in it’s Traditional and Simplified Chinese forms, along with the Pinyin, read on for the line-by-line dissection.

Traditional
無嘴卻會哭
無翼卻會飛
無牙卻會刺
無嗓卻會呢喃

Simplified
无嘴却会哭
无翼却会飞
无牙却会刺
无嗓却会呢喃

Pinyin
wú zuǐ què huì kū
wú yì què huì fēi
wú yá què huì cì
wú sǎng què huì ní nán

Line-by-line dissection

無嘴卻會哭(无嘴却会哭 wú zuǐ què huì kū)

Right, 無(无 wú) is basically 沒有(没有 méi yǒu), 嘴 is 嘴巴(zuǐ bā), but 卻(却 què), cries 哭(kū). “No mouth but can cry”. Easy-peasy!

無翼卻會飛(无翼却会飞 wú yì què huì fēi)

Line number two. 翼(yì) was something I hadn’t seen before. The 羽(yŭ) inside is a real giveaway as the character does in fact means “wing”. So we have, “No wings, but can fly”. Woah. What could it be? I hear you cry.

無牙卻會刺(无牙却会刺 wú yá què huì cì)

牙 is short for 牙齒(牙齿 yá chǐ), so we have “No teeth but can 刺(cì)”. 刺 is more commonly used to describe a stabbing of piercing action (the character actually has a knife inside it), however “No teeth but can stab” doesn’t sound quite right. The obvious choice would be “bite”. “No teeth but bites”. Intriguing.

無嗓卻會呢喃(无嗓却会呢喃 wú sǎng què huì ní nán)

But wait, there’s more! Again, 嗓(sǎng) I had never come across before, in fact I actually misread it as 噪(zào) first time round. Notice the mouths 口(kǒu) and tree 木(mù) inside. These character are often used to describe the sound of birds. My KTV days tell me 呢喃(ní nán) is whisper, think George Michael (無心呢喃). After checking the dictionary we get “No voice, but whispers”.

Let’s take another look:

無嘴卻會哭(无嘴却会哭 wú zuǐ què huì kū) Mouthless, but cries

無翼卻會飛(无翼却会飞 wú yì què huì fēi) Wingless, but flies

無牙卻會刺(无牙却会刺 wú yá què huì cì) Toothless, but bites

無嗓卻會呢喃(无嗓却会呢喃 wú sǎng què huì ní nán) Voiceless, but whispers

Until next time folks!