Ding Ding Dong

22 Dec 2004

The name of the Christmas song “Jingle Bells” is 圣诞铃声 (something like “Christmas Bells”) in Chinese. But the famous English refrain “jingle bells, jingle bells” in Chinese is the onomatopoeic “叮叮当, 叮叮当,” which sounds like “ding ding dong, ding ding dong” to Western ears. It doesn’t sound at all like sleigh bells ringing to us, it just sounds really funny (or maybe like doorbells). In my experience, every Westerner who learns these Chinese lyrics busts out laughing.

I tried to find a Mandarin Chinese version of “Jingle Bells” using Baidu MP3 Search. All I turned up was a version which I originally thought was Cantonese, but two Cantonese-speaking friends say it isn’t. The refrain definitely sounds like “ding ding dong” though. My guess is it’s Vietnamese. Can anyone identify the language?

I was disappointed because I can’t understand the lyrics, but I think the song may sound even funnier this way. I’m not one to mock any language, but this song — like the Chinese version — just sounds really funny, for cultural reasons, I guess. Give it a listen:

Asian Jingle Bells (1.2MB MP3 file, 64kbps)

I was able to find the Mandarin “Jingle Bells” lyrics, but they obviously don’t match up to this MP3. If you’re interested in the Mandarin version, continue reading below.

Merry Christmas!


> 白雪迎风飘飘

> 圣诞歌声飞扬

> 叮叮当!叮叮当!铃儿响叮当

> 叮叮当!叮叮当!铃儿响叮当


Update: The song is in Hakka. Thanks to Aline and Simon for identifying it.


John Pasden

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


  1. are you it’s not cantonese? it sounds like cantonese to me.

  2. It really does sound like Cantonese doesn’t it! I’m going to send it to my Chinese friend who is a linguist to see if she knows…

    (My whole office had a good laugh over this one:-)

  3. Definitely not Cantonese… at least not the kind they speak in Canton or Hong Kong.

  4. Holy crap, that has to be Cantonese… though I can’t confirm. Maybe it’s a dialect of Cantonese? Toisan maybe?

  5. No, it’s not Cantonese, I’m 100% sure. It’s not Toisanese, either, I’m also 100% sure of that. I’d go with the Vietnamese guess, but there are elements that do sound like Chinese village dialects I’ve heard.

  6. OMG, I can’t stop laughing listening to this mp3. It is definitely not Cantonese. Does Cantonese sound this strange to non-Cantonese speakers. It is actually Vietnamese. Ask any Cantonese, they will tell you a lot of Vietnamese words sound like foul language to the Cantonese. However, I believe Cantonese, Taishanhua and Vietnamese are somewhat related in the way the words sound, they are all very loud and annoying.

  7. I’m with Canton on this one. I think it’s Vietnamese. I remember hearing Christmas carols in Vietnamese back home (Mississippi’s Gulf Coast) a lot. It’s definitely close to the songs I remember.

  8. Hello I’m native Vietnamese. This is not definitely Vietnamese o__O

  9. Canton,

    Yes, that is exactly how crazy Cantonese sounds to us. 🙂

    Hmmm, it appears my Vietnamese guess is being shot down now as well. Can anyone else confirm that it’s not Vietnamese? What language is this??

    • hahahaha omg u guys i read a lot of ur guys responses and i cant stop laughing lol its none of those languages its mandarin ^^ i would know cause i’m chinese

  10. I never imagined I’d be linking to it in this blog, but it’s amazingly relevant. For an equally hilarious but very different kind of “ding ding dong” song, check out GUNTHER! (check out the video)

  11. Related to this is how my wife, who is Chinese, first started singing Jingle Bells in English: “Jingle bong, Jingle bong…”

  12. should be “ding ding dang” instead of “ding ding dong”. it’s DANG, not DONG 🙂

  13. bingfeng,

    No, sorry. “Ding dong” is English.

  14. 闽南话?或者客家话?台湾的朋友回答一下?

  15. the chinese title I am most familiar with is:铃儿响丁当.
    you can download it here:

  16. last 2 posts were by me

    I have no idea why the link I found is denied by your server. nothing wrong with that link. anyway, you can google it, there are plenty

  17. Li-chien Shih Says: December 23, 2004 at 10:01 am

    After listening to the MP3 file several times, I think the language is one of Chinese dialects. As a Taiwanese and I speak Hakka which was spoken only 20% of all Taiwanese, I can understand some lyrics, but not all.
    Also about the “Ding Ding Dong” sound, it is how we learned this song when we were kids. Nothing is funny to me until my American friends laughed at when I sang.
    Another example of “sound culture difference” is the bark of a dog. For me, it’s “Won-Won”. For other people, how should it sound??

  18. This is the dialect from Zhejiang Province, and I believe it comes from south Zhejiang, but I cannot define the exact part. Because I can understand most of the lyrics–I’m from Xiaoshan, now a district of Hangzhou but has got her cultural origin from Shaoxin.

  19. Definitely it’s not Cantonese ,cuz I am from guangdong,but I am wondering whether it’s Hakka.I have a relative who comes from Meizhou(people there speak Hakka as their native language ),his dialect sounds somehow like this mp3.If it is like what Agnes says–a dialect from zhejiang,maybe ,Wenzhou ? I now study in hangzhou,quite a lot of my classmate are zhejiangese.They speak different dialects ,but most of them sound alike except Wenzhounese.Also IMO wenzhouese is the most difficult to understand.
    and the following is a present 4 everyone’s X’mas and Newyear~
    http://www.hanqi.net/chuan/newyear2.htm (It has the jingle bell as the background muzik )

  20. i’m from hangzhou. i can understand the most of the lyrics. i also think it’s a dialect of zhejiang province. but not dialect of wenzhou. i think it’s the dialect of south zhejiang.

  21. Not that I am fully fluent in Vietnamese. But I know enough to know that this isn’t Vietnamese. My first guess was Cantonese but since there’s been so many people saying no. Guess, we’ll just have to wait for someone who does know for sure.

  22. This song is definitely not from Zhejiang. There is no voiced consonants in the song. Zhejiang dialects (Wu) all have voiced consonants.

    It is most likely a Hakka/Gan dialect. So somewhat similar to Cantonese in feel and somewhat comprehensible for Mandarin speakers.

  23. After listening to it for the 3rd time, I am convinced it is 客家话 Hakka. The pronunciation of 朋友 and 在 are dead giveaways.

    Definitely not Wu (Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai).

  24. Here is a Southern Zhejiang (Wenzhouhua) song: http://www.zanhe.com/laoshu.wma
    Some parts of the song is in Mandarin, but the main male singer is speaking Southern Wu.

    Notice the voiced consonants (English b,d,g,z, etc) in the song.

    The dingdong song has no voiced consonants, and cannot be a Wu dialect and thus cannot be from Zhejiang, Jiangsu or Shanghai.

  25. Tracy Phung Says: December 26, 2004 at 7:38 pm

    It’s definately not Vietnamese.

    I think it might be Thai! 🙂

  26. That song is in hakka…. It sure sounds like the hakka I speak.. OMG i have to send that song to my mum. She’ll be pleased! It’s the first time i hear a hakka song.

  27. Definitely not Thai — no rolled r.

    Probably not Gan — a Northern Gan speaker (my wife) thought it was Cantonese.

    A Hakka speaker who translated a little bit or summarised would be a very cool person.

  28. This song is singed in Hakka. I have been a long time no speak and talk in Hakka. I will try to write down the lyric.

  29. this is NOT CANTONESE…i’v spoken canto all my life and this is NOT canto!…i thot it was Shanghainese, but since simon says it’s hakka im guessing it is then…and for a sec there i thot it sounded like those ‘´ò tsai ¸è’ (that’s canto by the way…and i can’t write that middle word, but it’s just those prayer-songs that some ppl have to sing/pray at ppl’s funerals (buddhists))…if that didnt make sense then just ignore it haha

  30. Defintly nog Vietnamese. Vietnamese sounds alot more nasal.

  31. A Chinese dialect version of Jingle Bells

    John over at SinoSplice dug up a really interesting Chinese version of Jingle Bells.

  32. I am vietnamese and this is not diefintely not vietnamese.

  33. le huu tai Says: December 8, 2005 at 11:23 am

    This song is not in Vietnamese. I know it because I am Vietnamese.

  34. that is either hakka or northern taiwanese. northern taiwanese is not hakka.

  35. I don’t care what dialect it is as long as it’s Chinese. My first graders are singing it at at our Christmas Program, The school theme this year is “Christmas Around the World” and my class has China. Whoever posted this song- thanks and Happy Holidays!

  36. the song is sung in Hakka. i speak hakka n understand the lyrics, well.. 40% at least

  37. definelty hakka!! so much for the ding dong
    from hakka guy

  38. Hi, It’s of course Hakka. I’m 100% sure. Because I am Hakka. It’s so interesting. I love it. Thank you.

  39. This Hakka in the song is a little different from mine, so I’m not 100% understand what he’s singing. But the general idea is as below in mandarin, for your reference. So interesting~

    叮叮当 叮叮当
    叮叮当 叮叮当



  40. some Chinese dialect. Sounds like Cantonese. Definitely not Vietnamese since I know the language inside and out.

    notice how the guy sang it . Ting Ting Tong (not Ding Ding Dong). The “D” sound is not native to Chinese language. So is “r” and “tr” sound.

    Vietnamese has no problem with, D, R, and TR.

  41. This song has all different versions across all China, my hometown has compeletely different lyrics too. But this has brought lots of memory back to me.


  42. This is actually a dialect from rural southern Idaho.

  43. Thank you for posting that song. I always wanted to know what Hakka sounds like. I wish there would be more material online.

  44. Not Vietnamese.

    One thing to tell about Vietnamese songs is that you can listen to the song from the beginning to the end and you hear not a single /j/ sound. Of course the /j/ sound does exist in Vietnamese language (Southern and Central Vietnamese, not Northern Vietnamese), but when Vietnamese singers sing, they tend to change the y- sound to z- sound like the way Northern Vietnamese people do when they speak.

  45. daheck Says: May 3, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Huh ?

    No /j/ ? Why not ? /j/ sound in English is no different from /ch/ in Vietnamese.

    Also, for singers (especially w Northern accent), it’s the /r/ sound that’s mutated into the /y/ sound as used for letter “d”. But of course, for foreigners who don’t know Vietnamese, all this is a moot point.

  46. Phoebe Says: May 3, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    daheck, probably the same reason many British and Australian singers sing with American vowel sounds… songs are just meant to sound that way.

  47. The song is sung in Hakka. I’m Hakka from SHENZHEN. The singer is called Lu Wan, nickename Chief of School. He’s from He Yuan. (in chinese characters: 河源) I cant 100% understand his accent yet I have friends from He Yuan. And my friend told me Lu Wan the singer. I search for the lyrics and translate it into English. Here’s the link I got the lyrics: http://www.hakkaonline.com/forum/thread.php?tid=14753 (It’s a Hakka forum.)
    Here is the lyrics:
    Title: Ding Ding Dang
    歌手:校长 (卢顽)
    Artist: Chief of School ( Lu Wan)

    Apart from hometown
    I go out to make a fortune
    At home we supported by parents, going out we have to seek help from friends
    Workload is so heavy and tight, working hours are so long
    Until it reaches payday end of the month, not many bills/notes to count
    Ding ding dang, ding ding dang
    Like the sound knocking at my rice bowl
    Each meal I have salted vegetable which contains no nutrition and makes me skinny
    Ding ding dang, ding ding dang
    Nothing to do then I would go to bed
    Dare not to tell what a hard living I am fighting for when I home
    Dreaming of my hometown, can’t help tears rolling in my eyes
    Working for mouth, dismal of my heart
    There is goal and there is hope
    I believe I am a piece of gold, which will be shine finally
    Ding ding dang, ding ding dang
    Busy working days and nights
    Working hard and working smart, everyone has to try
    Ding ding dang, ding ding dang, life is an adventure
    Working hard and working earnest, for my career path

  48. @Daheck: In IPA code, /j/ = y (y as in yes). I was not talking about j as in juice. If you know IPA code used by linguists, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There is no y sound in Northern Vietnamese accent. No r sound either.

    I’m not a foreigner. I am a native Vietnamese speaker and I know what I’m talking about.

  49. By the way, you cannot use the / / symbol unless you use IPA code. You make lots of people think the ch- in Vietnamese sounds like y- as in “yes”.

  50. I’m not a native speaker but I can definitely tell that this is not Vietnamese. Vietnamese sounds like dog barking.

  51. Thanks for posting this song. I’ve been looking for the Jingle Bell song in different languages.

    I was about to ignore it but I think I should say something to the last comment. Vietnamese is one of my three favorite languages, Mandarin and French are the other two. I’ve been working with several Vietnamese colleagues for years and I think Vietnamese language does sound beautiful. To me, it does not sound like a usual tonal language like Cantonese; it has this musical quality to it that makes it sound very delighting to my ears. I guess it all depends on the speaker. Vietnamese language spoken by my colleagues does sound very pleasant and delighting.

  52. thats rude to all the people making fun of the vietnamese language. mandarin and cantonese doesnt soudn that better eater, its like their talking while riding a rollar coaster, damn.

  53. send John. vietnamese is not dog bark. cantonese is dogtalking.

  54. why that ding dong song of Christmas didn’t come it is different song not like that.

  55. I know!Who is the singer?The song is strange!I am chinese people from Malaysia.

  56. i have downloaded this songs .. It not vietnamese.
    i have hear clearly it like mixing laguange Hakka and Canto.i know cuz i always watch cantonese show and i speak hakka in house.
    if it really hakka i feel like shang hai hakka cuz their chinese speak very man.
    if it canto i feel got like little bit in middle

  57. This song is Hakka Mix Cantonese… verry Funny I like it !!!

  58. […] in Chinese. Thinking that some of you may feel the same way (you all seemed to really enjoy the Hakka Jingle Bells song), I decided to put together an album of Chinese Christmas […]

  59. Candy Shop used to do this as an encore after their earlier YYT shows. They’d all swap instruments and do a filthy joke version in Shanghainese. It still started “Ding Ding Dong”

    Fun times. They are way too professional these days. Pity.

    Err, can I repeat the rhyming line here? Ding ding dong, ding ding dong … something regarding a ‘lu’ becoming ‘gang’ … I feel embarrassed to say the whole thing, ha. 🙂

  60. Please could you put pinyin for me? Because I can’t read Chinese that well without pinyin..

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