This is the first part of 语文四年级上册 (a grade-4 Chinese textbook), and the transcript is here 观潮 (guāncháo = tide watching).


I translate this to:

Qiantang River's big lake, since ancient times has been known as Earthly wonder.
The lunar calendar's 8-th month 18-th day is the annual tide-watching. This day in the morning, we come to Haining city's Yanguan district; reportedly, here is tide-watching's best place. We, along with a tide-watching group, climb over the large seawall [海塘大堤]. Wide Qiantang River reclines [横卧] in front of our eyes. The surface of the river is tranquil, incrementally moving east and wider [越往东越宽]; in the after-rain sunshine, there is an enveloping layer of drizzly mist. In Zhenhai distict and Guta district, Zhongshan pavilion and tide-watching terraces tower on the river bank. In the distance, a few small mountains in the mist are faintly discernible. The river's tide has not yet come, and on the large seawall for a long time there's been a vast crowd. Everyone [昂首东望 (?)], waiting, anticipating.

I encounter a few issues here:

  • I'm not sure how to interpret 海塘大堤 (hǎitáng dàdī): we have both 海塘 (seawall) and 大堤 (levee) which seem redundant. Could 海塘 be the name of the 大堤?
  • 横卧 (héngwò) translates to "to recline", but it seems strange that a river "reclines". This doesn't make sense to me.
  • I'm not sure if I'm interpreting 越往东越宽 correctly. I think it means the river (or lake) is incrementally moving eastwards and getting wider. Google Translate gives "the more eastward the wider", which is not so clear to me.
  • I unclear about 昂首东望 (ángshǒu dōng wàng): 昂首 means to raise one's head, but means "East" and means "to hope". Google Translate gives "looking east", which is probably accurate.

Question: How do I resolve issues with my translation of a 观潮?

  • 1
    Note: in the first line, you seem to have misread 潮 as 湖. The ‘wonder of the world’ being alluded to is the tide on the Qiantang River, not a river lake. Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 14:54

3 Answers 3


海塘大堤 is a particular type of levee. Not all levees are seawalls. See this and this.

横卧:It as a figurative use. The river is there like a person lying there. Something like that.

越往东越宽: There is no verb here. So no "moving".
往 is not a verb here. It is a preposition that means "towards".
This just describes the rive, which is wider in the eastward. "The more eastward the wider".

昂首东望: 望 is not "hope" here. It means "look". The phrase means: raising one's head and looking east.


海塘大堤 is the full name of that type of levee (sea wall levee)


横卧 is a verb means 'lay across'; "钱塘江 横卧 在眼前" means "Qiantang River lays across in front of my eyes (or lays across my view)"

Example: 横卧在床上 = "lay across the bed" (not in the proper direction when you go to sleep)


[(越 )+ (X) + (越) + (Y)] is a common structure means " the more it (X) the more it becomes (Y)"

越往东越宽 means "(越 the more ) it (往东 heading East) (越 the more) (宽 wide) it becomes"


beside "hope" , 望 is also a verb for "to look"

东望 means "look Eastward"

昂首东望 means "raise one's head and look Eastward"

天下奇观 should be translated as "a wonder of the world"

  1. 海塘 and 大堤 are the synonyms. So, you can just take either seawall or levee.

  2. 横卧 can just be interpreted as lie or lying.

  3. 越往东越宽 means the further east the river goes, the wider it becomes.

  4. 昂首东望 (ángshǒu dōng wàng): 昂首 means to raise one's head, as you say. 东 is east. 望 means 看. 东望 means 东看 or 向东看,looking (towards) east.

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