The Moon Represents My Heart

05 Oct 2004

The moon represents my heart. I wince when I type out this sentence. It’s terribly awkward English, but I really don’t know how else to translate it. I’m no accomplished translator or anything, but I’ve given this quite a bit of thought and come up with nothing better.

月亮代表我的心 (“The Moon Represents My Heart”) is an extremely famous song in China. Most foreigners here know it, and every Chinese person seems to know it. It’s a pretty simple song, but I just can’t seem to translate that line. I’m of the opinion that pretty much anything has a good translation if the translator is clever enough. I’m ready for someone cleverer than I to show me the way.

Even if I can’t translate its title well, after four years of living in China I’ve developed something of an affection for the song. I think it’s sort of a mandatory study for anyone living in this culture.

I feel a bit silly about it, but after searching a bit for a good translation of the song and downloading different versions of it via Baidu’s MP3 search, I thought I might as well put this stuff online for other people to benefit from as well. I even made it kinda pretty, I think.

Check it: Sinosplice’s 月亮代表我的心 page. (Get the MP3s now if you want them — if they drive my bandwidth up much I’ll have to take them down.)

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. I would translate it as “The moon reflects my heart.” I think the key to translating is not to get hung up on the literal meaning. But anyway, your Chinese is way better than mine…

    托的

  2. How about “The moon mirrors my heart”? The words reflect and mirror deviate a little from the original phrase but create an aura which might compensate the subtle inadequacy in using the literal “represent” or “symbolize.” To a Chinese, representing the heart by the moon is quite self-explanatory as the Chinese romantic literature has over more than a thousand years built up the symbolism that the moon represents purity and loyalty of a lover’s love (and also of family/friends’ longing for each other). This is not apparent in western cultures, so if you say the moon represents my heart, the symbolization is not conveyed. Saying the moon mirrors my heart might allow for a certain degree of imagination (but that’s all) of a pure, open, devoted, and longing heart. Of course, one would still regret that it is not a literal translation.

  3. Da Xiangchang Says: October 6, 2004 at 3:52 am

    The Poon Represents My Heart.

  4. The moon is how pure my heart is to you.

  5. Da Xiangchang Says: October 6, 2004 at 4:08 am

    The Poon Represents My Heart
    a poem in iambic pentameter

    by Da Xiangchang

    How I look upon thee, my sweet lovely,
    One glance provides me with such perfect glee.
    So weak I feel and yet so strangely strong,
    Surely, my lovely, one peek can’t be wrong.

  6. Da Xiangchang – check your iambs.

    I think “The Mood Reflects My Heart” is a pleasing translation, since the reflection of the moon is such a common, hackneyed image in Chinese poetry. That said, I’ve always just called it “The Moon Represents My Heart” – a cheesy translation for a cheesy song.

  7. What about “The Moon Reflects My Heart”? “Reflect” is better than “represent” here, I think.

    Wow, good job of the page for the song! Nice presentation of different versions and their singers.

    And there’s also an English version for this composition.

  8. Oh! 托的 thinks of “reflect” too. BINGO!

  9. I’d thought of both “reflect” and “mirror,” but I didn’t like either. True, “the moon reflects my heart” sounds better than “the moon represents my heart,” but does it sound natural or good? I don’t think so.

    In the absence of a good translation, I went with the most literal translation.

  10. “the moon reveals my heart”

    怎么样?

    托的

  11. The moon shows you my heart.

  12. 托的 and Gin,

    I think you guys are stretching.
    “Reveal” and “show” are basically the same thing, and they’re both inherently different from the meaning of 代表.

  13. Sounds impressive!

  14. I know the song you are referring to. I always thought it was funny that the song uses that phrase to express a lover’s ongoing loyalty – compare the line from a Western song, “…the ever-constant moon,” said, I believe, with irony, as the moon keeps changing, waxing and waning. I guess it’s simply a different way to look at it. Perhaps the way it should be understood is that no matter how the moon seems to change, it’s still there, where it ought to be.

    Anyway, I would suggest translating the title as “The Moon Pictures My Heart” if you find “…Represents…” or “…Symbolizes…” to be not poetic enough. Certain expressions can indeed be difficult to translate in a way that is both accurate and equally poetic in the target language.

  15. Any connection between the metaphor here & the Moon Festival?

  16. The word “show” may be a stretch, but used here the phrase “shows you” may not be.

    Forget the dictionary and think poetically. By comparing the following versions of a (Chinese) lover’s monologue (or soliloquy), don’t you think “shows you” conveys the emotion similarly, if not better?

    You ask me how deeply I love you.
    You consider this and look above:
    the moon represents my heart.

    You ask me how deeply I love you.
    You consider this and look above:
    the moon shows you my heart.

  17. Yeah its cheese, but its the only chinese song I can sing well at KTV and serenade my gf with.

    you ask me how deeply I love you,I love you THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS(hands really far apart) much!!

    lol

    yeah, I can’t think of any decent translation, sometimes some things are just best left as they are; cookies for those who know how to get them.

  18. John,

    IMHO, “reflect” is the best you are going to do without getting too far from the original literal meaning. In defence of “reveal,” all I can say is that translating poetry or lyrics is not like translating an engineering spec. If you confine yourself to the literal meaning (rather than the spirit of it), you end up with words like “represents.”

  19. Am I the only person who has never heard this song before? I can’t believe it.

  20. 托的,

    Now you know why I’ll never be a translator. 🙂

  21. Jing,

    Yes. You’re the only one.

    Now go listen.

  22. It’s a particularly tough translation given the association of the moon with madness and “lunacy” in Western culture.

    “Faithful as the Moon” seems somewhat funny.

  23. Hmm, it is indeed bit tricky to translate the “代表”, I think here it means something: my heart is JUST LIKE the moon, “always with you whenever and whereever you look up to the night sky”, it is not someting as “represents, relfects, or mirrors”, not the “三个代表”‘s “代表”, 🙂

  24. Jing,

    with that comment you’ve now convinced me you are not a Chinese. You can’t possibly be.

  25. Roy,

    And here I thought it was only the Chinese that said “a Chinese”….

  26. Anonymous Says: October 7, 2004 at 4:51 am

    I like this page, I actually downloaded all the versions—I did not know there are so many different versions.

    It is funny to see the comments here. you are trying to find why we chinese try to say ‘moon represents my heart’, I do not think it means anything deeper than the song writer simply put some nice things together to write a song.

    This song was from 70s when there were not many popular music. Deng Lijun was banned in China in the late 70s because ‘love…any kind of soft feeling is simply corrupting our soul’….:):) and back then most of the songs, lyric looked very primitive.some lyrics do not always make sense. We always laugh at them. the first time when I heard this song was 20 years ago–my father asked me–why moon REPRESENT the heart? We did not have many popular songs to choose from. so I remember we( young kids) simply learnt everything I could find.

    it is cheesy, I am sure I would not like them if I heard it today by today’s standard—now it is so sentimental just to listen to it. It is simple, beautiful, naive, and pure—has nothing to do with moon though:)

    my old fashioned stepfather never listens to any music, even he knows this song, I guess it is pretty well known. 🙂

    John, what other chinese old music you listen to?

    I love your website.

    Edel

  27. I can prove my Chineseness by simply being able to ingest piles of man tou and watery cabbage soup. 🙂

    However, I never grew up around a very musical family and I can’t even recollect if my grandparents had a radio (being a peasant in Liaoning isn’t very materially gratifying). In any case, I never once heard that song in my household as my parents almost never listen to music at all. I don’t think theres anyone one person who’s musically inclined in my entire extended family.

  28. So typical of kids—blaming everything on their parents.

  29. Anonymous Says: October 7, 2004 at 10:47 pm

    john,
    i love your website and especially enjoy the music section. and i like to read about your take on the songs and what they mean, whether or not people think it’s right or wrong 🙂 i think music (both new and old)is one of the best ways to understand a culture and it’s people.
    hope to see more music posts in the future.

  30. Maybe you all don’t need a verb to represent 代表. My heart is as the moon? That kind of touches on the fact that daibiao looks, according to zhongwen.com, like it breaks up into “replace the image.”
    Anyway, it’s pretty catchy, especially for a sappy chinese song.

  31. Contributing late here…

    I’d say that in the context of the song, where the singer doesn’t answer the question, a reasonable translation is to let the moon “speak for my heart”. Which is a common synonym/translation of “represent”, as well as something (slightly) more on the poetic side. “Reflects” is possible, but, whether desirable or not, it creates a different song.

    One project I’ve often thought of doing would be to organizing a site where people can contribute English language lyrics for Chinese pop songs. Translations, whether close or far, would only need to fit the melody. Imagine the reaction when you break out this one, or “It’s no crime for a man to cry”, during Karaoke night after someone has just done the reverse with Faye Wong’s Cranberries rendition.

  32. The Moon speaks for my heart

  33. Have you heard of thie Korean redition of this song? I have it.

  34. You can’t really translate poetry(in this case lyrics) to a different language, try translating Robert Frost’s poems into Chinese. The beauty will be lost in translation.

  35. to see my love, look to the moon?

  36. Hi! I stumble on to this site for finding variation of this song. By the way, Thank! I read some of the comments and I thought of the comentary site that I recently came across on the internet. It is the closest to the song’s true meaning in my opinion.

    http://www.edonn.com/archives/2003/09/moon/

  37. Hi,

    I am 40 yrs old and never been married, therefore no children. I play the guitar, and when my girlfriend sang this song…Right away, I wanted to find the chords. I was able to sing to her and she loved my accent. Being Spanish, I thought that Japanese would be easier for me. but. When I met her…I knew I wanted to spend all my life with her…who knows, I’m a Dragon and she is a Monkey, which it’s a good fit. Or I’m a Cancer and she is a Sagitarious, not a good fit at all, but how far you want to believe in this. Chemistry is quite difficult. But don’t be fooled, you have to invest time and then everyting will be easy( if a good chemistry)

    Anyway, great song and I will sing it to her 37 birthday , tommorrow.

    Christian

  38. A Chinese teacher I had in Shanghai taught my class this song, and she translated the title as:

    “Let the Moon Express my Love”

    In think its a nice translation and conveys the meaning of the song well …

  39. I need the chords for this song. Can you post it?

  40. All my students and every Chinese teacher i have asked, tell me the translations is simple if kept simple.” The Moon shows my heart to you”

  41. I’m trying to find out approximately when this song “The Moon Represents My Heart” (I prefer The Moon Speaks For My Love) first come out. I’m usig it in a movie script that I’m writing, and the story is set in the 20s in China. Please help if anyone know about the history of this song. I have been told by a few people in Hong Kong and China that the Theresa Tang’s version wasn’t the original.
    Thanks.
    Rosa

  42. http://cul.sina.com.cn/y/2004-10-10/85620.html

    According to this, the song was written in Boston, first sung in Taiwan in the 1970’s.

  43. Thanks Gin! I was going to look myself, but this saves me the trouble.

  44. Thanks Gin and John. I couldn’t log on to http://cul.sina.com.cn/y/2004-10-10/85620/html to read the article. It says “the requested URL was not found.” Does it say when was it written in Boston? Thanks again.

  45. With the information you provided, I managed to track down the numerous articles written about the origin of this song…《月亮代表我的心》原版是作曲家翁清溪(Taiwanese composer) 为歌星陈芬兰写的曲子,孙仪填的词,时间是1972年,由丽歌唱片公司发行。 I have been asking this question for a few years now. Never knew that internet can be so helpful. Thank you again Gin and John.

  46. Glad to be of help.

    So “The Moon …. My Heart” in 1972. Hmm, on the mainland that year, I was probably singing “Red Sun in Our Heart.”

  47. In my screenplay, the mother says to the daughter before she sells her ‘When you miss you, look at the moon. Wherever we are, we will be looking at the same moon…..’ I use the moon as a metaphor because the moon, like a mother’s love, is always around you somewhere but you just can’t see it all the time. Help…do you think the lyrics in ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’ can also apply to parental love or is it strictly refers to romantic love. Thanks.

  48. Or you can destroy all the poetic ambiguity of it, as well as the orignal chinese phrasing if you translated it to sometihng like: “My feeling for you is great (immense?), like the moon” Since xin1 is heart as a euphemism for emotion and the idea here is that the moon is supposed to be the physical representation of some loving feeling. Although, the poetry of it all is struck down as this translation is kind of awkward. ah well.

  49. thank you john. i’m singing this song at my wedding for my husband. i need a translation for it. you did an excellent job. i will pass it around to my audience. you can hear a sample of my singing on my radioblog http://radio.tabulas.com/users/1930/ (scroll down to sang by dodo – moon represents)

  50. I translated it into Thai (my native language) and ‘represents’ actually made sense to me. What seems to be the problem is that many of you don’t realize that the word ‘represent’ in Chinese also connotes a sense of ‘giving.’ With this subtle difference in the meaning of the word (represent) in Chinese and English, I don’t think you can really translate the song’s title into the latter. However, I suppose ‘The Moon Shows my Heart’ is the most appropriate. (‘represents’ sounds very rigid while ‘reveal’ suggests that the guy has been hiding his love or sth)

  51. I’ve seent the title of the song on some CDs translated as “the moon is my heart”.

  52. Laura Faye “Moon speaks for my heart”

  53. I find this web accidently. I find people here are so funny and so nice. The moon represents my heart, or whatever you call it, is a very nice song which I like very much.

  54. I like the song of The Moon Represent my heart becuse I swa it on my vcd concert the way Jerry sin it it makes me cry in tears beacuse of hi sweet voice and the way he moves.

  55. Anthony Zhen Says: August 23, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve found a english version of this song on the internet and saved in my webspace, its called The Moon Speaks for My Heart, the singer is Anders Nelsson, It sounds quite different from the original version, check it out.

    http://hk.geocities.com/anthonyzhen1/MoonSpeaks.mp3

  56. i find your website is very interesting, far more interesting than our textbook on cross-culture. i will come more often and contribute my bit to it. besides i laso like the tune very much.

  57. John,

    I finished translating the lyrics to Portuguese, based on your website, and am going to publish it in my blog. Because of that, I thought it would be fair to share it with you to include in your yueliang.doc file if you want.

    Please let me know what you think, thanks

  58. It sounds like a song sung by Elvis Presley, but as I’m not a fan of his I can’t say what song it is. Anybody know?

  59. Al Wingate Says: May 27, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    John, as to the notion that reveal and show is basically the same word meaning wise is perhaps a slightly hasty conclusion about those two words. I would contend that there are two different words for a reason. In this case, the drama of reveal in a certain context far outweights the “just” show. Think different. “Different, different, different.” I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy this. And I feel a bit shy about commenting on language. Check out Winston Churchill regards language. That would humble any linguist. Not that I am a linguist. I do appreciate a person’s ability to put together words in such a fashion as to change history. I revel in it. And you might look up the derivation of revel and reveal. See a difference? Hey good luck with Spanish sense. I could be a supporter, but have a very limited amount of time here in Taiwan.

  60. Another awful version is by Anita Mui. Great voice, but weird pronunciation. Check it out sometime.

  61. handsomelake@gmail.com Says: January 28, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Just goes to show how unworthy you are to hear such a beautiful song.

    The moon rotates to the earths orbit so that it always shows the same side. The moon s my heart is the same as my love will never change.

  62. andyfrom london Says: March 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    My heart shines like the moon

  63. andyfrom london Says: March 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    My heart shines like the moon

  64. andyfrom london Says: March 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    My heart shines like the moon

  65. I’m an Aussie guy now working most of the time in China. Knowing that I’m a hopeless romantic, a young Chinese friend recently played this song for me. Without understanding a single word of the lyrics, I was immediately completely captivated by this song.

    She speaks pretty good English so I asked for the title and she said; “The moon expresses my heart.”

    The romantic symbolism associated with the moon, its purity, consistency and eternal qualities are generally understood; I knew instantly what she (and the song) was saying.

    Translations are often awkward and it is best to not to become too literal with the words; unless a technical or legal context requires it.

    The moon [shows][reveals][reflects][mirrors][represents][expresses][speaks for] my heart.

    It doesn’t really matter which you choose; within the context of this song, the essence of the meaning is the same.

  66. this song will be very special for me because it will be the music of my wedding ceremony (insaallah), I am from Turkey, I do not know the meaning of it, but the important thing, in my opinion, is to know that this is a love story and say, share us something about it.

    if you say, love, I tasted it…

  67. Terence Noonan Says: October 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    “My Heart is like the Moon”: I think this is a perfectly idiomatic translation that captures the meaning of the Chinese entirely. I ran across your website yesterday when I was listening to the song, and the above translation occurred to me this morning. Like one of the posters above mentions

    “The romantic symbolism associated with the moon, its purity, consistency and eternal qualities are generally understood;”

    So to say that the “my heart is like the moon” should at once call up those kinds of romantic associations.

    I worked as a translator for 4 years, although it was German-English, nothing to do with Chinese. I’m slowly getting there with Chinese, though.

  68. Hi, I like your translation. I always like this song.
    Where can I find and download the piano version of Qi Qin, just the instrumental part only?
    Thanks.

    regards,
    Hon

  69. Hi John,

    I found your blog from Albert Wolfe’s post about your new tones diagram. I like it. I found your blog is so lovely and I’m trying to see if there’s any button that I can subscribe to your blog through my email but I couldn’t find it.

    Your 月亮代表我的心 page is awesome! I have post the same song in my blog but I have to put a link to your page now! I’ve never seen any post including everything like yours. That “hold the cursor over a line of lyrics to see it in pinyin” thing is what I always want to do but I don’t know how.

    Love your shirts, creative and humorous!
    Jeannie

  70. I saw your site with all the different versions of this song on it, so wanted to pass along one that I thought you might like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6gbRka8BTo&feature=player_embedded

    This singer apparently agrees with your translation as “the moon represents my heart”.

    Enjoy!

  71. I found your site while searching for a translation for this beautiful song.. just wanted to share mine:

    You ask how deep is my love
    How deep do i love you?
    My feelings are real
    My love is true
    My heart is as constant as the moon is to you

    You ask how deep my love is
    How much do i love you?
    My feelings will never fade
    My love will never change
    My heart is as constant as the moon wax & wane

    One sweet kiss
    was all it took
    for love to grow
    deep in my heart
    yearning and longing

    You asked how deep is my love
    How much do i love you?
    Look deep
    and you will see
    My love is as constant as the moon will always be.

  72. Steve Wilcox Says: January 21, 2015 at 2:33 am

    I know this site is about learning Mandarin, but since you such enjoy Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin, please have a listen to what might be the first recording of an English translation.

  73. Hi John, I’ve just come across your blog today. Nice articles! Here are my 2 cents about this.

    The title of the song is actually the concluding line to the stanzas, so its translation should capture the ‘dialogue’:

    you ask me how deep my love is, how much I love you, (oh) my feelings are true, (and) my love is real, my heart/feelings for you are like the moon…

    So I think what’s important is: ‘how much do I love you? –> it’s like the moon baby’

    A really simple way to translate the title might be: “It’s Like the Moon” or “Like the Moon”. Leave it for people to discover what’s like the moon. Some things might be better unsaid.

    Among the suggested translations some of the better ones might be:

    • Ken: My Heart is as the Moon
    • SG (Laura Fygi): The Moon Speaks for my Heart
    • Rosa: The Moon Speaks for my Love
    • Roly: The Moon Expresses my Heart
    • Terence Noonan: My Heart is like the Moon

    I’d personally avoid the word “heart” though, which in English doesn’t quite have the same connotations, for thoughts/feelings/mind.

    Heart vs moon can read too much like the comparison of two physical objects. In a song like this, 心 can even be translated as all-of-my-being, my heart-and-soul. So I’d avoid “heart”. The imagery doesn’t convey the soulfulness and depth of feeling.

    If the brevity of “It’s like the Moon”/”Like the Moon” isn’t faithful enough to the Chinese text and therefore doesn’t bring up to mind the Chinese title easily enough, perhaps using the word “love” would be better than “heart”:

    “My Love is Like the Moon”

    This should fit in well with the lyrics, where it belongs, and ‘cap’ the stanzas nicely.

    There is an additional, implied meaning in the lyrics: …perhaps this is farewell, perhaps we will be permanently separated… Then look towards the moon, and remember my love the way it was and will always be… (“深深的一段情教我思念到如今“ can be read in a few ways and can imply more than it reads…)

    So it can be somewhat bittersweet, not merely I-do-love-you-and-I-love-you-for-always, but a sort of don’t-be-sad-I’m-always-with-you, or my-love-is-always-going-to-be-with-you. That one line, 月亮代表我的心,really does say a lot, and in many translations much of it is lost. If my heart is like the moon, it might be pure and true, but what is more meaningful is if my love is pure and true, and gentle and patient and eternal, and deep and ever-present, and even if we are physically apart its light is never far…

    For this reason I love to sing this song to my kids, they however prefer five monkeys jumping on the bed…

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