Can You Help with a Mandarin (or Cantonese) Chinese Children’s Song?

Linda wrote:

Dear Mama Lisa,

I spent two years in Taiwan and three in Hong Kong as a child. I was taught a song, I believe in Mandarin, that began as follows:

Gu gu ba ba jung wei da
een ya za wo ja
way gwa
chu dong dong
dong bing
shou ha ha

I learned this about 40 years ago, so I know things are not right! My friend is adopting a Chinese baby from a province that speaks Mandarin and has asked if I remember any of the language. I would love to be able to teach this little girl a song in her native language. Could you please help me with the proper wording?

Thanks you so much!

Linda McCreedy

If anyone can help out with this song, please email me or comment below.



P.S. I asked my friend Ray, who speaks Cantonese, if it sounds Cantonese (just to check). Here’s what he wrote:

It’s probably in Mandarin. “wo ja” sounds like “my family” spoken in Mandarin. In Cantonese it would be “ngor ga”.

Still, the whole thing doesn’t make much sense to me and my co-worker, to whom I forwarded the song. The first line seems to say, “My brother and my dad are great”.

“Dong bing” sounds like “become a soldier” in Cantonese. But then that contradicts with my earlier observation. It would be very helpful if there’s a recording of a person singing this song!

If anyone else can help – or if you can send a recording Linda – that’d be great!


This article was posted on Thursday, January 18th, 2007 at 7:05 pm and is filed under Cantonese, Children's Songs, China, Chinese Children's Songs, Chinese Nursery Rhymes, Countries & Cultures, Hong Kong, Languages, Mandarin, Mandarin Children's Songs, Questions, Readers Questions, Taiwan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Can You Help with a Mandarin (or Cantonese) Chinese Children’s Song?”

  1. Edwin Says:

    I don’t know the song, but I am pretty sure it is in Mandarin. I can guest some of the words:

    Gu Gu Ba Ba could mean several things:
    1) 姑姑爸爸 (Auntie and father)
    2) Gu Gu Bo Bo (Uncle Gu Gu)

    jung wei da – 真?大 (really great)

    Guessing from the structure of the first sentence, Gu Gu Ba Ba should be a person.

    een ya – ??

    za wo ja – 在我家 (in my home)

    way gwa chu dong dong dong bing – 為國去當..當..當兵 (Become a soldier for the country)

    shou ha ha – 笑哈哈 (laughter)

    The last sentence is a common way to end a kid’s song, meaning “be happy”.

    Hope it helps.

  2. Edwin Says:

    Lisa, I’ve found it, thanks to Google.

    This article has a reference to the song:

    The above is just the first half of the first verse out of four:


    Brother and father are really great, their fame shines over our home. They become soldiers for the country and they are happy. Go go! Brother and father! No need to care about the business at home. I will grow up. I will grow up.

    It is a song written in 1950 in Taiwan. It seems to have some political background. Apparently, they were desperately recruiting soldiers at that time.

  3. Linda Says:

    I am amazed by the response of all of you caring people, and I am inspired by your patience…
    Here’s the rest…
    Tzo batta, tzo batta
    gu gu batta
    tzu you wo tzung dong
    tzu you wo tzung dong

    Thank you all

  4. jojolaca Says:

    ge ge ba ba zhen wei da
    ming zhe zhao wo jia
    wei, guo, qu da zhan
    dang, bing, xiao ha ha
    zhou ba, zhou ba
    ge ge ba ba
    jia, shi bu yong ni zhao da
    zhi yao wo zhang da
    zhi yao wo zhang da

  5. Yurtdisi Egitim Says:

    it seems like e very good web site but my Chinese is not good. It would be great if it might be availible in English too. Thanks.

  6. Joyce Says:

    I just accidently stumbled onto this page and question, and yes, it had a very political background. I’m from Taiwan actually, and we did sing it when I was little, the rest of the song was not really taught to children, but it’s somewhat disturbing, and I’m not sure you’d want to teach a little child this song anymore – the rest of it includes uncles going to war as well, neighbours killing the “enemy”, and I can’t wait to grow up so I can kill enemies too. (At that time, the “enemies” hinted to the communists in China – I believe because since people from China literally “escaped” to Taiwan to avoid communism, they were really afraid that China would wage war against them, so they viewed each others as “enemies”). If you do want the rest of the lyrics, (I don’t know pinyin, but the Chinese words of the whole song are as follows)

  7. Lisa Says:

    We do have Chinese Children’s Songs in Chinese with English translations. Click the link to go to the page!

    Original lyrics to the song can be found on Wikipedia here.

    -Mama Lisa

  8. Lisa Yannucci Says:

    Sam Wang wrote me:

    Dear Lisa,

    I am writing about Linda’s Chinese song which starts with ‘Gu gu ba ba jung wei da’. This is a song we learn to sing as a child, and is very popular among kids. The title of the song is ‘Zhiyao wo zhangda (I only need to grow up)’ It goes like this (rendered in Hanyu Pinyin):

    Gege Baba jen weida
    Mingyu zhao wojia
    Wei guo qu dazhang
    danbing xiao haha
    zouba zouba gege baba
    jiashi buyong ni chiangua
    zhiyao wo zhangda
    zhiyao wo zhangda

    My brother and my father are great
    Their names glorify our family
    Fight for our country
    Happily join the army
    Go on, Go on, my brother and my father
    You don’t need to worry about family business
    I only need to grow up
    I only need to grow up.

    For your reference.

    Sam Wang

    Thanks for sharing that Sam!

  9. Sophie Says:

    What does gege ba mean?

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