Classical Chinese (古文, Pinyin: gǔ wén, "ancient text") is the language of the classic literature from the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han Dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. The term is also used for Literary Chinese (文言文 wényán wén, "text of written language"), a ...

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512 views

足: why is “foot” also “enough”?

足 is an ancient character meaning "foot". However, it also means "enough" or "sufficient", and this second definition is also very old. Consider this excerpt: 兵甲已足。——诸葛亮《出师表》 This is from ...
10
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4answers
700 views

Classical Chinese Literature - What languages could be written with it? And why?

I understand that classical Chinese (see Wikipedia) was very different from spoken Chinese (at least in the last centuries of its usage). Nevertheless, despite or maybe even because of this, it was ...
9
votes
3answers
417 views

Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?

In modern Chinese 之 is thought of as the literary genitive particle and 的 as the colloquial. In most reconstructions of Old Chinese 之 looks very similar to the way 的 is pronounced now. For example in ...
8
votes
2answers
238 views

Specifics of the idiom “四海一家”

There are several sayings and idioms similar to 四海一家 which reference "四海". Does the 四海 actually refer to 4 specific oceans such as the Indian, Pacific etc. or is it more of a metaphor for all of the ...
7
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3answers
216 views

Use of 以 in 臣以弑君、可謂仁呼

I'm not sure what this sentence means. My dictionary lists 以 as having an adverb-like function of indicating purpose or result so my best guess in translation would be "A vassal intending to ...
7
votes
1answer
65 views

黃中 = being employed as an imperial government official/having a career in the imperial government?

Many Chinese clans have a "昭穆", a kind of poem from which each generation of the clan picks a successive character as a prefix to given names, so we can easily identify people from one generation to ...
6
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3answers
763 views

What is the ancient Chinese one-character name for woman like '子’ means man?

青青子衿,悠悠我心。但为君故,沉吟至今 Here: 子,对对方的尊称 子 implicitly implies the poem is addressing a man. The poem talks about how a lady misses a man. I just wonder if there is a corresponding word for Chinese. (i.e. ...
6
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3answers
587 views

Reasons for Chinese changing from monosyllabic to disyllabic?

Classical and Middle Chinese are often considered monosyllabic languages - most words are single syllables. Modern Chinese however is considered disyllabic - most words are two syllables. For ...
6
votes
2answers
331 views

What is the classical Chinese meaning of 或?

I am reading a text that uses the following phrase: 或謂鄭相曰 I understand it generally to mean that someone told to the prime minister of Zheng saying However, I don't understand exactly ...
6
votes
2answers
399 views

If Confucius came back to life today and scribbled a message, could most modern Chinese people understand it?

For example (and I am not sure if this is a good example), if presented the following stone inscription (石鼓文, source, c. 374 B.C.), could most modern Chinese people understand it (even vaguely)? ...
5
votes
6answers
98 views

How can the expression “高就” be understood grammatically?

I've heard the phrase 您高就 without an interrogative rise at the end. The way it was spoken sounded like a statement, but in context it was more like a question. Can this phrase be a question? Or ...
5
votes
3answers
161 views

What Chinese characters are rare in modern but common in classical Chinese?

I browsed randomly through texts written in classical Chinese, and I noticed there were a lot of Chinese characters that were frequent in classical Chinese but never or rarely being present in modern ...
5
votes
2answers
235 views

How to explain the structure of “将在外,军令有所不受。”

In my own opinion, this sentence should be "将在外,军令不受". I can hardly imagine any use of "有" and "所" here. Could someone explain the structure of this sentence?
5
votes
1answer
240 views

What does the classical construction X 何由 Y mean?

I almost never see this construction in classical prose. (In fact, I'll venture I've never seen it.) However, it's in two of my favorite poems. In this one, it's from the poem "晨詣超師院讀禪經" by 柳宗元: ...
5
votes
1answer
329 views

Resources for learning classical Chinese

I have a very strong interest in classical Chinese (文言文), but I am unable to find any ressources for learning it that don't assume Chinese is your mother language. Can anybody give me some pointers?
4
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2answers
411 views

What is a one-character translation of the English word “Freedom”?

I've been trying to find a single-character translation of the word "freedom," but I can't seem to find one anywhere. The best translation I can find is, of course, 自由, which seems to be a fairly ...
4
votes
3answers
175 views

In Dao De Jing, 常 should be translated as “eternal” or as “common”?

I'm doing a translation of the Dao De Jing, using some originals and some translations to english and portuguese. I've noticed that 常 chang is almost always translated as "eternal", "fixed", ...
4
votes
3answers
138 views

How is 青 and 苍 used in classical Chinese to denote colors?

Here is what the dictionary says about 青:  1. 深绿色或浅蓝色:~草。~苔。 Dark Blue or light green.  2. 靛蓝色:靛~。~紫。 Indigo blue.  3. 黑色:~布。~衣。 Black. Similar case is 苍:  1. 深青色,深绿色:~翠。~天。 Dark ...
3
votes
3answers
272 views

What character is this? (yu2)

The book "A First Course in Literature" from Shaddick uses this character: In the vocabulary section it is explained as "TV to cross; to exceed". But I can't seem to find this character anywhere ...
3
votes
3answers
236 views

What does 乃 mean here?

On a particular forum is a banner reading: 此乃舊貼唯讀區 which I imagine is a highfalutin way of saying that this thread is read-only. Now, 乃 has many senses in my dictionary. What is the sense of 乃 ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

道 vs 途 in religious texts

As we all know, 道 is an important concept in classical Chinese, meaning "the way" in the metaphorical sense. It is a central concept in Taoism, but it was also used in Buddhism and Confucianism to ...
2
votes
1answer
143 views

Using 變音 when reading Classical Chinese poetry in Cantonese

The poem 《登鸛雀樓》 (Climbing Stork Tower) has the final line 更上一層樓. If I were to read this in Cantonese, would I pronounce the final character as lau4 (without 變音), or lau2 (with 變音)? My guess would be ...
2
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3answers
145 views

Is the character 攜 still used in modern Chinese?

This character has in classical Chinese a very common meaning, namely "to take", like in the sentence: 攜妻子至海岸。 (To take wife and children and arrive at the sea shore). I recognize many characters ...
2
votes
1answer
303 views

Poetic two-character words of the form: Verb + Natural Noun?

I was looking for examples in Mandarin of poetic two-character words. What words have the following form... Verb + Noun ...where the noun is something that occurs in nature? The first examples ...
2
votes
1answer
183 views

What's the difference between Classical Chinese and Modern Chinese?

What I mean by difference is its grammatical difference. How is Classical Chinese grammatically different from today's Chinese? Is modern Chinese's golden rule similar or equivalent to some rules in ...
2
votes
1answer
139 views

What is the average number of words necessary to read classical Chinese?

I heard classical Chinese had a limited amount of vocabularies compared to modern Chinese. How many words one has to learn in order to acquire average reading abilities, disregarding the grammar?
1
vote
2answers
75 views

What kind of typology does ancient Chinese belong to?

Modern Chinese belongs to the group of languages are isolating, just like English, but even purer. English once was not isolating but possessed flection. Is the situation with English similar to that ...
1
vote
1answer
234 views

Does anyone recognize the characters written on this home shrine? [closed]

So far I can read most of the characters on this picture, except 1 character. The characters on the center is: 忠義 (zhong1yi4 - Tiong-gī), which means: Loyalty and is related to the story of the ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

What is the function of 乃 in 子甫至乃去乎 ?

i understand: 子甫至 - you just arrived a moment ago. 去 - go. 乎 - character that makes the sentence a question. What is the role of 乃 in this sentence?
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2answers
86 views
1
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1answer
93 views

Included or Not Included As In “以後” “以來”, etc

Check out the references below, we see that Japanese has the same problem as Chinese: Does "以X" include the word itself, eg. is 1 included in "1以上"? As what I have seen, in old Chinese books, there ...
0
votes
1answer
105 views

Is there a serial verb construction in classical Chinese?

Serial verb constructions are several verbs in sequence constituting one single predicate to describe a whole event. Example from Wikipedia: 我(I) 坐(sit) 飞机(aircraft) 从(depart) 上海(Shanghai) 到(arrive) ...
0
votes
2answers
39 views

What are common adverbs in classical Chinese?

As far as i know, adverbs in classical chinese are put right in front of the verb, whereas in English their position is quiet freely. for instance: 並食 = to eat sitting next to each other 尽食 = to ...
0
votes
1answer
60 views

What is the meaning and usage of 于之 and its contraction 焉 in classical Chinese?

I've read 于 was a preposition, but there were many unrelated translations for it. 之 is as far as I know an object pronoun, like for instance him, her, them but can also mean somthing different. How ...
0
votes
1answer
92 views

What are some profanity words in classical Chinese?

It is easy to find profanity words for modern Chinese, but I could not find any profanity words for classical Chinese. Even such simple ones as "to fuck". Please help to promote this knowledge.
0
votes
3answers
118 views

if 奥巴马 was a sentence in classical chinese, what would be its meaning? [closed]

if you look up the characters used to transscribe obama in chinese, you get the following: 奥 = mysterious 巴 = to long for 马 = horse a simple sentence pattern in classical chinese is: adv. V ...
0
votes
3answers
51 views

Through which processes became words in classical Chinese that tautological?

There are a lot of different words for many concepts in classical Chinese, for instance for the personal pronouns. Due to which circumstances could this happen?
-2
votes
2answers
226 views

What written language is more commonly used for video games in China? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the relative literacy rates in for simplified and traditional characters? Just wondering what language to use in game menus, buttons, and settings.
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votes
2answers
42 views

Are there online sources containing example sentences in classical Chinese with grammar annotations?

I came across a site that is called zdic and holds explanation of characters, but unfortunately no example sentences like nciku for modern Chinese. Do you know of any source that contains sample ...