This is from a little text about 俞伯牙弹琴。 Travelling on a boat, they stop to wait for the wind and waves to calm down.

晚上,风浪渐渐平息,天气晴朗,江水清澈,景色十分迷人。 望着空中的明月,俞伯牙来了兴致,拿出琴弹了起来,一会儿他酒沉醉在了音乐之中。

zdic.net: 晴朗: 阳光充足,没有云雾

晴朗: sunny, fine and cloudless

He gazed at the bright moon on this evening and played his zither. (Reminds me of Alice Through the Looking Glass: "The moon was shining sulkily, because she thought the sun, had got no business to be there, after the day was done.")

Even in ancient China, the sun did not shine at night, did it??

6 Answers 6


well, you're reading a bad example of written vernacular chinese, trying to pretend it has a classical chinese origin, with invented details.


it's an error. the possible choice of word is 清朗 or 澄朗; both means clear, crisp sky.


about the starting time of evening, in ancient; it's 1900 hrs.

one night (一夜) is divided into 5 night-watches (五更); midnight is 三更,

戌時 (1900 - 2100 hrs) is 一更

子時 (2300 - 0100 hrs) is 三更, that's why we've "三更半夜"


  • Also, during summer in the upper northern hemisphere, the sun could still be in the sky as late as 10:30PM. (same to the lower southern hemisphere in its summer)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 2:10
  • @TangHo China is not far north enough for that to happen. The story is set in ancient China which also doesn't have timezones. Commented May 24, 2017 at 3:02
  • yes, ancient "china" means region around 36° north (nowadays shaanxi), it expanded / extracted over time. Commented May 24, 2017 at 4:52
  • For the evening/night part, sunset plays a impotent role than the time itself. Ancient China heavily reply on the sun for the time basis. But time is also important(less)
    – Kevman
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 6:10

The original words from the chapter "俞伯牙摔琴謝知音" in the book "警世通言" by 馮夢龍.

Here is the original words


The author of your quoted text translates words badly.

First, it is 清朗, not 晴朗. They original story told it was in the night with full moon. The rain was over and the moon shone exceptionally bright. You can expect it was a clear night sky.

Second, in classical Chinese, there are some differences between 晚 and 夜. 夜 is night and 晚 is evening (in the sense of "evening school", "in the evening" of English). The original text say it was 中秋之夜, the night of Mid-Autumn Festival. That means it was no sunshine at all.

  • Thanks for the original text. My text book is from 北京语言文学出版社 2016. They should be more careful!
    – Pedroski
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 21:50
  • It is not "badly translated", it is terribly translated. Honestly, the script don't need translation.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 17:20

晴朗 does mean sunny, but more essentially, cloudless, clear sky. Although it's not recommended to use for night in formal situations, I won't have problem using it casually for clear night sky.

As in your situation, the author is obviously talking about night, as you can see from "望着空中的明月"


This might be somewhat enlightening:

规范 says:


日落后至深夜前的时间; 泛指整个夜晚。气象学上指17点至20点。

According to Guifan's definitions there might be two seperate concepts:

1 - after sunset -or- night(fall)


2 - meteorologic definition: 5pm to 8pm

I could see a mixture of these definitions resulting in 5pm to next am = 晚上. If it really were anything after 5pm then it wouldn't be so surprising to see nice skies in the 晚上 either.

  • After sunset is the most reasonable explanation.
    – Kevman
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 19:51

Complicated forms:
凌晨 wee hours, from 0:00 (midnight) to sunrise.
黎明,拂晓,破晓 foredawn, daybreak, period from darkness to daybreak, you may speak 凌晨 also.
清晨 early morning, from daybreak to sunrise, you may speak 早晨 also.
早晨 morning, from daybreak to about 9:00, you may speak 上午 also.
上午 morning, from sunrise to about noon.
中午 noon, tens of minutes or one hour around 12:00.
午后 afternoon, tens of minutes or one hour after lunchtime, you may speak 下午 also.
下午 afternoon, from noon to sunset.
傍晚,黄昏 nightfall, evening, period from sunset to darkness, you may speak 下午 also.
晚上 evening, from darkness to normal sleeping time.
夜晚 night, after supper, before midnight, you may speak 晚上 also.
半夜,午夜 midnight, tens of minutes or one hour around 0:00, you may speak 晚上 also.
深夜 late night, from 22:00 to about 2:00, you may speak 晚上 or 凌晨.
There isn't absolute boundary between some words, the ranges indicated by them may be overlapped with each other, or included in another one, these are proximate time ranges.

Simple forms:
凌晨 from midnight to daybreak or sunrise.
早晨, 早上 early morning, or replace with 上午 simply.
上午 morning, from sunrise to noon.
下午 afternoon, from noon to sunset
晚上 evening, from sunset to midnight.


OH MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!!!!!

Honestly, that is horribles rewrite of the ancient story, where did you get it?

It is correct that 晴朗 only apply for broad daylight. Since the whole writing is so terrible, please, throw it away.

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.