3

Could someone explain the meaning of every character after "也" in "回也其庶乎"?

I'd appreciate your help.

4

This comes from Confucius's 论语 (Analects).

For the sake of other readers, let's break down the entire sentence:

回 refers to Yanhui 颜回, a character in the Analects

也 is a final particle in classical Chinese, which here separates the topic from the comment

其 in classical Chinese means "his/hers/its" or simply "it" referring to something already mentioned before. Here it's likely to be the former.

庶 (shu4) stands for 庶几 "almost", "maybe", used in a similar way as 差不多 "almost done"

乎 in classical Chinese is (among others) a final particle used in a similar way to 呢 (and I would say also 嘛)

So putting it all together, it becomes close to:

Yanhui, his [something mentioned before] is almost done.

Source: Analects 11-19 commentary (in Chinese)

3

子曰・回也其庶乎・屢空

in 魏 dynasty, mr 何晏 explained as:

言回庶幾聖道・雖數空匱而樂在其中矣

then, in 宋 dynasty, mr 朱熹 explained as:

庶・近也・言近道也・屢空・數至空匱也・不以貧窶動心而求富・故屢至於空匱也・言其近道又能安貧也

afterward, in 明 dynasty, mr 胡廣 explained as:

大意謂・顔子不以貧窶動其心・故聖人見其於道庶幾 . . .

if you do not need extra speculations, mr 朱’s explanation is enough.

so, read it as:

回 - refer to confucius’s favourite disciple “顏回”

也 - a modal particle, adjusting the mood / tone (語氣) of the verse

其 - his / that —> he’s

庶 - nearly [ a saint | attain the tao (道)]

乎 - also a modal particle, like using “one of” in “one of the best” even when this “one” is the best.

if you consider to comprehend the texts in wider context (from 柴也愚 to 億則屢中), mr 胡廣’s book is a good reading (page 109-119):

四書大全 論語集註大全 卷十一

have fun :)

6
  • I find the reference of 其 dubious. If it refers to 回,it seems redundant. But what could it refer to in the context? – Apollyon Jun 20 '20 at 6:24
  • well, it’s an interpretation. another possible answer is, his (其) [manner / behaviour to get along with people 做人處世] is near a saint. well, i think that a shortcut of “being” is suitable in this verse. – 水巷孑蠻 Jun 20 '20 at 6:55
  • If 其 means "his," is the expression for "manner in which one deals with others" found in the context? – Apollyon Jun 20 '20 at 7:00
  • well, like dream-analysis, people would have different interpretations on the same object / scenario. – 水巷孑蠻 Jun 20 '20 at 7:17
  • It seems that Classical Chinese is a load of guesswork, unsuitable as a vehicle for precise expression. – Apollyon Jun 20 '20 at 7:24
0

I agree with @blackgreen on most points but one:

其 is not a pronoun here! 其 means 大概 probably, as in:

子贡问曰:“有一言而可以终身行之者乎?”子曰:“其恕乎!己所不欲,勿施于人。”

Besides, it isn't [something mentioned before], but 孔子 implied that 颜回 is almost perfect.

1
  • But "庶" already means "probably." – Apollyon Jun 20 '20 at 2:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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