5

What is the meaning and function of "幸" in the following sentence?

吾翁即若翁。必欲烹而翁,则分我一杯羹

5

幸 in this context means to hope for.

吾翁即若翁。必欲烹爾翁,則幸分我一杯羹

My old man is your old man. If you want to boil your old man alive, then I hope that you’ll share a portion of the soup with me.


As far as I can find, the original text says 必欲烹「而」翁 rather than 必欲烹「爾」翁, but the interpretation is the same.

  • What source do you have available that indicates 幸 means "hope" here? – Apollyon Mar 11 at 10:37
  • 1
    @Apollyon 幸 doesn't necessarily mean hope - its common meaning that people are familiar with is fortune. However, hope is an extended meaning - consider the translation instead: may I be fortunate enough to receive a portion of the soup, which is another natural translation. Of course, 幸 means hope as one of the meanings given by standard reference dictionaries like 《漢語大詞典》: "12. 希望, 期望。 亦為表示希望之辭。" – droooze Mar 11 at 10:42
  • What is its part of speech? A verb, adjective, or adverb? – Apollyon Mar 11 at 10:49
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幸 is hope that. The excerpt is from 《史记》 项羽 threatened 刘邦 that he would boil 刘邦's father alive. But 刘邦 was not afraid of him and said: "吾(my)翁(father)即(is)若(your)翁。(if you)必(must)欲(will,want)烹(boil alive)爾(your)翁,則(conjunction)(I)幸(hope)分(share)我(me)一杯(a bowl of)羹(soup)。

Note: 刘邦 and 项羽 once 拜为兄弟

  • Some sources say it is an adverb: <副>敬词,希望对方照自己的意见做,可译为“希望”。《孔雀东南飞》:“幸可广问讯,不得便相许。” – Apollyon Mar 11 at 11:20
  • Moderators: I think this answer is an excellent demonstration of why its good to have Ruby text functionality as in this meta question. It's super-useful, and not just for readings/pinyin. – droooze Mar 11 at 11:23
  • That is true. Classical Chinese is not strict on part of speech. – Toosky Hierot Mar 11 at 11:55
  • Here's an example that requires 幸 to be treated as an adverb: 吾子幸觀焉. The source passage indicate 吾子 is not the person bearing the hope. Rather, the intended meaning is that the speaker hoped 吾子 (the addressee) would do something. – Apollyon Mar 15 at 2:08
3

幸 literally means 'feel lucky for' or 'happy for'

吾翁即若翁。必欲烹爾翁,則幸分我一杯羹

My old man is your old man. If you want to boil your old man alive, then I would be happy to share a portion of the soup.

'hope for' is extended meaning of 'happy for' -- When you are happy for something to happen, you are hoping for it to happen

In the idiom: "幸災樂禍" (happy to see other people suffer) both 幸 and 樂 mean 'happy for'; 災禍 means disaster

  • Why down vote? I said 幸 also means 'hope for', just stated the literal meaning of 幸 is 'feel lucky for" or "feel happy for" . Is that wrong? – Tang Ho Mar 11 at 10:59
  • I didn't downvote, but I question your interpretation of 若. – droooze Mar 11 at 11:02
  • Now I see 若 is a typo from the OP's post. – Tang Ho Mar 11 at 11:04
  • 《漢語大詞典》「若」: 8. 你(的);你們(的)。 ▶ 《莊子•人間世》: “一若志, 無聽之以耳, 而聽之以心。” – droooze Mar 11 at 11:07

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