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Questions tagged [classical-chinese]

Classical Chinese (古文, Pinyin: gǔ wén, "ancient text") is the language of the classic literature from the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han Dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. The term is also used for Literary Chinese (文言文 wényán wén, "text of written language"), a ...

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How to translate 乎 in classical Chinese texts?

I know that 乎 usually expresses doubt and is sometimes translated using rhetorical questions. But is it always true? I am wondering how should it be translated in such a case: "而有以通乎性命之全". The full ...
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How many supplies did Liu Bei have at Dangyang?

I was attempting to translate this passage from the Records of the Three Kingdoms: 比到當陽,衆十餘萬,輜重數千兩,日行十餘里,別遣關羽乘船數百艘,使會江陵。 The background of this is: Cao Cao had invaded Jingzhou, Liu Bei was ...
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How to translate 冲 in a phrase 道冲。

Is there any meaning of the character 冲 that allows to translate it as Vessel (or empty vessel)? The section four of 道德经 states: "道沖而用之或不盈" - 冲 is usually translated here as an empty vessel or ...
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Need help with Classical Chinese

I'm a postcrosser and deltiologist. A few days ago, I received a postcard from China. There was some Chinese text along with the artwork on the front side of the card: I tried the Google Instant ...
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are there any free bilingual sources of chinese proverb?

In reference to the thread Is this [Ivanka Trump] Chinese proverb real? —“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it” and related news, I've created this question, and ...
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Tang Dynasty Inscription

In researching a Tang inscription (661 CE) I came across this in a journal article. 此外,玄导时代刻经有年号、施主、住僧可考的,有唐显庆六年(661)涿城府左果毅都尉杨社生及其一家施刻的“心经”[附注11]  (11)显庆六年“心经”题记:“雍州栎阳县游骑将军守左卫涿城府左果毅都尉杨社生、母段、妻扈、息怀庆、...
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也 in classical Chinese as copula

I've been doing my research on 者 and in one of the articles I read I came across a sentence from "Analects": 安见方六七十如五六十而非邦也者。 Glosses for this example are as follows: where see size six-or-...
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Usage of 何 in Buddhist Hybrid Chinese

This is from T263, the Lotus Sūtra, eight groups of 4 characters: 如來所詔 常以知時 為其眾生 而行智慧 || 以何方便 而受道法 何因令獲 從佛經教 Does 何, particularly in 以何方便, mean that there is a question being asked here? Or is it ...
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Three Chinese characters (?) on the entrance of the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh city

Since visiting the museum, I've been very curious about these three characters (shown below). I've unsuccessfully tried to search it on the Internet. Their pretty calligraphic style is one of the ...
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Can you help identify the artist for these Taizong horse rubbings?

Can you help identify the artist? The art was framed back in 1952 by the Jean Bohem Gallery in New York City. These are on scroll paper which is attached to something (cloth/ linen?) Beautiful ...
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What is the usage of 物 here?

From Daodejing 25: 有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,獨立不改,周行而不殆,可以為天下母。 I have seen this translated as both: "There is a being, wonderful, perfect; It existed before heaven and earth. How quiet it is! How ...
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Problem in understanding classical Chinese sentences

Recently, a friend asked me about some meaning of several sentences of classical Chinese, which I also can't understand. 对扬王休,用作尊彜。 呜呼!余夙夜维商密,不显,谁和? 汝慎和称五权,维中是以,以长小子于位,实维永宁。 ...
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What role does 事 play in 事不師古?

司馬遷, 史記,秦始皇本紀: 事不師古而能長久者,非所聞也。 I only understand the very broad meaning should be similar to: That someone flourished without learning from the ancients, thereof I never heard. But, to ...
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What is the relationship 驩 required by the 大略 between husband and wife?

In the 大略 荀子 requires: 君臣不得不尊,父子不得不親,兄弟不得不順,夫婦不得不驩,少者以長,老者以養。故天地生之,聖人成之。 My dictionary says this word 驩 is a term for horse breeding A form of 歡 I am thinking, it must be the second meaning ...
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how to translate “何如” in 呂氏春秋?

this question is made, and answer provided; in response to a comment in another question: How to translate the phrase 利而物利章 in context? cause, my explanation is too long to put in the comment area; ...
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What is the Chinese term for a DGEN or Degen Gambler

What is the Chinese term for a DGEN gambler or a Degen Gambler, this phrase is usually used not in a bad way by pro gamblers who considers themselves or others DGEN/Degen gamblers as they thrive and ...
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How to translate the phrase 利而物利章 in context?

I am reading a passage from 呂氏春秋. I think I understand the basic meaning of the three first quarters, but then it becomes difficult. The hard part is the tiny snippet below and especially the last ...
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Number of Characters an Average Imperial Times Scholar Knew

It is said that today a university educated Chinese person knows some 5000-6000 different characters. In imperial times when the official language was literary/classical Chinese how many characters ...
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What's the etymology and significance of yuenyeung (鴛鴦)?

鴛鴦 is a mix of tea and coffee commonly had in Hong Kong (amongst other south-asian countries). I was wondering about how this drink came into being? Where does the title come from (especially the ...
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How can I put the understandability of classical Chinese and modern Chinese into scale?

I am trying to explain to English-speaking people how different classical Chinese (文言文) and modern Chinese (白话文) are. I would like to put this into scale. Basically, if an average modern Chinese ...
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What's the state of Chinese classical texts in the mainland after Simplified Chinese (and the Cultural Revolution)?

In the past I've came across a few websites that distribute Buddhist texts in simplified Chinese, which is somewhat unsurprising since there's active interest in Buddhism to propagate once again in ...
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What are these characters from this chopsticks packaging?

What are the characters shown in the following chopsticks packaging? I've no idea what the first character is and the Chinese speakers at the restaurant at which I was given this package couldn't ...
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how to search words / clauses in classical / literary chinese?

this question is made, and answer provided; in lieu of a long comment. though info might be controversial (from that area's view), i sincerely hope that it's helpful to anyone interested in chinese ...
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Poem “口占” by 區越

I've found this beautiful poem "口占" by 區越 (Ming dynasty) on the internets: 共酌小亭下 詩新酒倍濃 閑花爭兩岸 醉眼不朦朧 I wasn't able to find much information other that that it's from Ming dynasty... A good ...
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What is the meaning of 㫬 in the given sentence?

I recently came across an article where a sinologist complained of not being able to understand the use of the character 㫬 in the following sentence: 彪亦是南人。唯有中大夫楊元愼、給事中大夫王㫬是中原士族。 The article ...
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What is the 行 in 行有餘力?

The passage in the analects, whence it came, reads: 子曰:「弟子,入則孝,出則弟,謹而信, 凡愛眾,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」 Very broadly I understand it: Students and sons at home should be filial, leaving home they should ...
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Has Unicode included these Classical Chinese characters?

I've found these characters in an old dictionary about Classical Chinese / Sino-Vietnamese / Vietnamese. Although they can be analyzed pictorially (I don't know better words), I personally can't find ...
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How do I look up a graph in 說文通訓定聲?

I'd like to look up 䟠 in 說文通訓定聲. My library has at least two versions of this (multi volume) book. A (poorly) scanned version of it lives here: http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&res=1866 (it's ...
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Ancient forms of characters

According to Wiktionary, "This character, 朙, is an ancient form of 明". I'd like to know what exactly ancient forms are and their current role in the language together with some academic reference, as ...
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What does 荠麦之茂,荠麦之有 in 《猗兰操》 mean? 韩愈《猗兰操》“荠麦之茂,荠麦之有”一句作何解释?

This question is about understanding a verse in a poem by Han Yu of the Tang dynasty. 请问韩愈《猗兰操》里“荠麦之茂,荠麦之有”一句作何解释? 此句下一句,即全诗末句,“君子之伤,君子之守”,“言君子居可伤之时,故君子有可见之操守”;那么“荠麦”的比喻,是否是说荠麦茂于雪霜之时,方见其坚强之节操? 《...
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What are the words printed on my dizi? Who is the maker of my dizi? [closed]

Here are pictures of the dizi. I don't know what's written.
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(古文) Is ‘attract’ for 援 in 人所援也 acceptable?

許慎 writes for 媛:美女也。人所援也。 I am inclined to translate 人所援也 as ‘someone who attracts people’, but I might be mislead by English ‘attractive’. It sounds so modern. (Being a beginner with CC, I also ...
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天干、地支、八卦和六十四卦 Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branches, 8 Trigrams and 64 Hexagrams

When looking up individual characters in modern dictionaries, I often come across descriptions such as "one of the ten Heavenly Stems", "nth Earthly Branch", "one of the Eight Trigrams", etc. Is it ...
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How to understand “请勿复敢见矣”?

How to understand "请勿复敢见矣" in 《孟子·公孙丑下》: 孟子去齐,宿于昼。有欲为王留行者,坐而言。不应,隐几而卧。客不悦曰:“弟子齐宿而后敢言,夫子卧而不听,请勿复敢见矣。” 曰:“坐!我明语子。昔者鲁缪公无人乎子思之侧,则不能安子思;泄柳、申详,无人乎缪公之侧,则不能安其身。子为长者虑,而不及子思,子绝长者乎?长者绝子乎?” Someone ...
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Is there any record on this specific variant of the character 選?

The below variant of the Traditional character 選 comes from an old book of 20th-century Vietnam. I personally cannot find any source that acknowledges this variant. I'm also pretty sure that Unicode ...
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What does the following phrase mean “扈江离与辟芷兮,纫秋兰以为佩.”?

I think its a line written by the poet Qu Yuan that maybe symbolizes a persons nobility?
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What does the following phrase mean: 故虽有珉之雕雕,不若玉之章章——《荀子》

The character 珉 from the original phrase is said to mean "an apple of Sodom"...is that true? If so, what does that even mean? I though the character 珉 meant a jade-like stone as it has the particle ...
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How to explain usage of 照得上 站得下

could you explain, please, why we use 上 with some verbs? and with some 下?does it depends on the verb? 广场上停得下10辆车 10 cars can be placed here. 天安门照得上吗?Can you take picture of Tiananmen?
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“May you live in interesting times”

I have often heard (and probably repeated) that there is a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." Is there really such a saying in Chinese? I can't think of one, and can't even think how ...
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Classical Chinese grammar help: 蓋將自其變者而觀之,則天地曾不能以一瞬

The second clause is translated as some version of: "If you look at it from the point of Change, then heaven and earth never stay the same for even a moment". Here's what I think I know: 不 negates a ...
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What's the meaning of 登假 in old daoist scriptures like Zhuang Zi?

In the old daoist text Zhuang Zi, we see 登假 at least twice in the Inner Chapters (5.1 and 6.2). In the first part, it gives the meaning of departure and "going up" (to isolation in the mountains? To ...
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What are the etymologies of 局 and 局面?

As far as I know 局 applies to everything which demands crooking ones body. A job behind a desk almost always means you are sitting with your back bent: A small office is 局, a chess game is 局, a game ...
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Is Regulated Verse Used In Modern-Language Poetry?

According to The Infallible Wikipedia, most modern Chinese poetry (新诗) is metrically free and unrhymed, sometimes hard to distinguish from a short essay. Are rhyme or tonal schemes along the lines of ...
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Looking for a legit place for Classical Chinese grammar rules

Here is an example of my problem. I came across final particle 乎 in a classical text by 孟子. I know from a short description in a unreliable resource that it is similar to 呢, 吗 and 吧。 The thing is, I ...
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Is to embrace or think of spring an expression?

I'm writing a paper for my world literature class on the poem "Dead Roe Deer" from the Classic of Poetry. In my research/reading of a direct translation, I read that to embrace/think of spring is a ...
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Write date and time using 文言?

I have been wondering how did they wrote date and time with 文言 ? Like how would you translate "我周日通常醒早,八点半钟起床。" ? Regards.
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Why did people sometimes call Liu Bei “明将军”?

Reading some historical texts on Liu Bei, the famous Three Kingdoms warlord, I was surprised to see that in more than one occasion, he is referred to as 明将军. What does this name mean, and where did it ...
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What does 前後鼓吹 mean?

can anyone tell me what 前後鼓吹 means? In context: 賜以秬鬯一卣。寵以前後鼓吹。知悉。 I grant you one vessel of black millet herb-flavoured liquor, and I proclaim my favour for you. Let it be known. Something like ...
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What does dian gui bu mean?

I've tracked 點鬼簿 as far as 張鷟《朝野僉載》. I thought it was something like 'augmenting the records of the dead', but I don't really understand it?