1

貪人之有者殘 is a phrase from 素書. I am not able to understand the grammatical structure of this sentence.

For instance:

  • 貪: does it mean greedy or make s.o. greedy, or consider s.o. greedy , or greed (noun)

  • 貪人: is it just "greedy person" or is 人 not immediately connected with 貪

  • 之: is it here an object pronoun or genitive-particle or the word "go"
  • 有: does it mean "have" or "exist" or "come into existence"
  • 者: is this the particle that makes the whole part infront of it a noun-phrase ?
  • 殘: is it "to injure" or an adjective "being in state of being injured" ?

Could you explain to me the grammatical structure of this sentence and its meaning in English ?

2 Answers 2

3

The structure is <贪[人之有]者> <残>. "贪 人之有 者" can be translated as "he who is lust for other people's possessions". But I am sorry I don't know the exact meaning of 残 here. Maybe it means "harm", "impair" or "to be bad".

3
  • that is perfect for me , thx Oct 14, 2015 at 17:38
  • "人" in "人之有" means "not oneself (only)"; it can refer to "other people" or even "the whole society".
    – Henry HO
    Oct 15, 2015 at 2:08
  • iciba:貪人之有者殘 The remnant of a corrupt man。殘 1. (形)不完整;残缺:这部书很好;可惜~了。(what is left of one who coveted what others have)
    – user6065
    Mar 12, 2016 at 22:48
1

Normally ancient chinese's grammar is extreme sophisticated by modern standard. They have certain rules to rearrange some characters to make the sentence sounds beautiful when you say them (sadly the ancient tone is very different from modern chinese and also extremely hard to learn). That's why ancient chinese is usually harder to learn than modern one.

I will not go into details of the ancient grammar, as this might end up in a thound words essay :) In this case, the correct way of translate this is to first interpret "人之有", it means "the things that someone has". "者" means "the person", but the action verb for this is actually "贪". To combine these 3 words, "贪人之有者" means "The person who is greedy for others' possession." Now, before I go ahead and interpret "残", you should know that this whole sentence comes from a full article(or say essay). "残" normally means sick / disabled, but in the full essay it has a different meaning. If you wish to translate this sentence alone, you could say it means "disabled", hence this sentence would mean "The one who is greedy for others' possessions will be disabled(mentally or physically.)".

However, since this sentence is from an essay, both "残" and "人" have a different meaning. I'll post this original essay here, and I'll give you a full translation on this essay.

Original: 释近谋远者,劳而无功;释远谋近者,佚而有终。佚政多忠臣,劳政多怨民。故曰,务广地者荒,务广德者强,能有其有者安,贪人之有者残。残灭之政,累世受患;造作过制,虽成必败。

Translation: The one (refers to leaders/emperor) who ignores nearer things but goes for farther things shall spend all effort in vain(here things could mean resources or to conquer a distant country); the one who goes nearer things and let go of farther things shall be profitable and satisfied. If you go easy on your courtiers, they shall be loyal to you; if you go hard on your people, they shall hate you. So I say(I refers to the author), the emperor who spends all his life to expand his region must lose, and the one who pursue kindness must be loved by his people hence his country shall grow stronger. If the emperor is satisfied with what he has, he shall be relaxing and at peace. If the emperor greeds for others' (here others could refer to his own people, or other countries/regions/dynasties) possessions, his dynasty shall fall. If the emperor is wildly aggressive towards wars, he shall ruin even more generations afterwards. If the emperor is greedy and goes too extreme on things, even if he achieved certain things, he shall fall eventually.

I'm not going to discuss the meaning of other sentences in this article, but in all, this comes from a courtier who advises his emperor/leader to rule his people and courtiers peacefully with kindness. So the meaning of this sentence is better interpreted within the whole article, as for if it is translated alone, the meaning could be vague.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.