Learning Chinese Kung Fu was one of Simon’s dreams before he came to China. When he finally found a chance to join a class, he realized it is not an easy task unless you put all your heart into endless practice.
zěn me qǐ lái dé zhè me zǎo
Xiao Lin: 怎么起来得这么早？
Why do you get up so early?
wǒ dé liàn gōng fū ne
I have to practice Kungfu.
bié tài zhe jí, màn màn lái ba
Xiao Lin: 别太着急，慢慢来吧。
Don't worry. Take it easy.
shuí ràng wǒ shì cài niǎo ne, wǒ dé bèn niǎo xiān fēi ā
But am I not merely a beginner? So I have to start early.
In the last sentence, there are two "鸟"( niǎo )(birds). "菜"(cài) means dish or vegetable, but "菜鸟"( cài niǎo ) means, "rookie", "newbie", "beginner" or "sb new to a particular subject". For example, if someone has been learning Chinese for only a few days, he/she can be called 中文菜鸟(Chinese beginner)
There is a saying that”菜鸟” comes from "笨鸟”(bèn niǎo), which means a foolish bird or a stupid bird, while someone mistook "笨" as "菜". Then the word "菜鸟" has spread ever since.
The second “鸟” is included in Chinese idiom "笨鸟先飞", which means "Clumsy bird flies early". Since Simon considers himself a beginner, he uses the proverb to explain why he got up so early.
There are other phrases that use "bird", such as:
早起的鸟儿有虫吃 (The early bird catches the worm.)
林子大了什么鸟儿都有 (Every forest has a bad bird. /Its English equivalent is “Every herd has its own black sheep.”)
Does早点 (zǎo diǎn) Mean Early?
What does “大嘴巴(big mouth)” Mean in Chinese?
眼红(yǎn hóng): Green-eyed or Red-eyed?
What does “奇葩” Mean in Chinese?