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it's the end of the second chapter of Dao De Jing. I try to make sense: 是以不去 therefore it's not lost, doesn't go away. 夫唯弗居? Can anybody help me?

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  • In (comparatively more) modern Chinese, I would put it as "只有不自居其功,才可以永垂不朽". "唯" means "an essential factor" or even "the only way".
    – Henry HO
    Apr 20, 2015 at 4:01

3 Answers 3

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Nannuo gave a nice explanation. But there are some of the details I don't agree with.

It seems 夫 is 发语词 to me. Normally one doesn't relate it to anything.

夫唯弗居 => 唯弗居 => Only contributing without taking credit.

以 means "because of". 是以 = 以是 = because of it/this/the reason/something.

去 = leave (vanish is also good.)

是以不去 => 以是不去 => Because of the reason above, it (the credit of your contribution) never go away.

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  • agree that 夫's not a subject in above - though it can also serve as a transition similar in English to "Now, ...". Example 韩昌黎's 答刘正夫书: “夫君子之于文,岂异于是乎。” Apr 19, 2015 at 12:31
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夫唯弗居,是以不去。

夫:发语词。no actural meaning。 can be translate to "so".

弗:does not,never

唯:only,just

居:possess (merits) (regard contribution as merits。)

是以:therefore

不去:does not lose。

(So)Just because does not possess(merits) ,therefore never lose it。

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Apologies for my late reply.

I have no formal training in classical Chinese, modern-day Chinese or something akin thereunto; however, in a Japanese sense, the answer should be more or less clear.

My answer is thus shown as follows (in a tentatively explanatory note):

Someone in question is/was merely not at home; therefore, he is/was not gone ([or] he has/had not left for anywhere else [for good]).

The [...] thread has not provided the entire excerpt or, better still, the entire article/account; therefore, I have no choice but to deem that, from these given words, the author of the original phrase ([or] the first-person character or any of the likes) seems to have responded to his or her listener(s)/reader(s), or seems to have provided an explanatory note in re the perceived departure, i.e., as to whether or not someone in question be/have gone. The author has apparently made it clear that the person in question merely was not at home, as opposed to having gone somewhere else (for good [or not]).

Note: In my opinion, whether or not one choose (chooses) to treat the first character (meaning in general: man, husband, this, etc.) as insignificant when being translated into English, it does not matter. The meaning in its essence remains clear that someone is/was merely not at home for the time being; thus, having gone nowhere (as possibly expected/assumed thus or so).

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