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 traditional style of written Chinese modelled on the classical language, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese.

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How should "燭之死" be understood in the following context?

In a short story by Pu Songling, the following sentence appears: 燭之死,然心下絲絲有動氣。 In the English translation I have available, the translation goes as follows: They saw he was near death, like a ...
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How to grammatically analyze 三国之一 in 大都不过三国之一?

It's from 《左传 郑伯克段于焉》. The meaning of the sentence is clear: (the measure of) the wall of big cities cannot exceed one third of (the wall of) the capital. My question lies in the grammatical structure ...
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Reading older Chinese magazines

I'm at a stage where I'm able to read novels, including the ones by Zhang Ailing, Bai Xianyong and the like. I have now reached the point where I need to start venturing into (somewhat) early 20th ...
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audio version of Analects

I'm currently learning classical Chinese, and was wondering if somewhere online there were spoken versions of works like the Analects (obviously in Chinese.) A version where it is easy to find the ...
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the meaning of 一作虛

Below is a passage from a Song Confucian, Cheng Yi: 胎息之說,謂之愈疾則可,謂之道則與聖人之學不干事,聖人未嘗說著。若言神住則氣住,則是浮屠入定之法。雖謂養氣猶是第二節事,亦須以心為主,其心欲慈惠安(一作虛)。靜故於道為有助,亦不然。孟子說浩然之氣,又不如此。今若言存心養氣,只是專為此氣,又所為者小。舍大務小,舍本趨末,又濟甚事。今言有助於道者,...
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得數條別錄 - what does it mean exactly?

There is this passage from a Korean Confucian Yun Hyu, where he discusses relation between 理 and 動: 理動之說,非某之說,朱夫子嘗屢言之矣。今得數條別錄以上,乞以此更入思量,如何。 I am at loss with "今得數條別錄以上" this part. Any help ...
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What does 流通 mean as a metaphor for Nirvāṇa?

In the 890th sūtra of the Saṃyuktāgama, at the end of the sūtra, the text transmits a number of metaphors, such as "the deathless" (不死) and "the island" (洲渚). One of these terms is ...
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Can the view of non-linear grammar of Classical Chinese be corroborated?

I'm not sure how non-linear grammar is defined. The search results seem to all come back with programming languages. That being said, I learned it from from a video of a college course by 万献初 Link. ...
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以故 at the beginning of the sentence

I am wondering if the following translation is correct? 以故使炳夏搜送刊行文集,則歸報以不得,極可歎也。 This (以故) caused 炳夏搜 to pursue publication of the collected essays, thus there will be no payback, which is extremely ...
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who is the author of 行狀 in the phrase " 其祖考所撰行狀"

Here is a sentence I have a problem with: 再昨招宋炳夏商量,又更審其祖考所撰行狀... I just want to make sure whether the obituary (行狀) was composed about the deceased grandfather (祖考) or by the grandfather of 宋炳夏? (EDIT)...
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relation between "疏" and "上命" (clarifying meaning in a sentence)

I have a couple of problems concerning this sentence: 庚辰,具疏投進,上命校書館印布正文,其後玉堂權尚游、尹趾仁請下兩南,竝注疏印進,學士大夫皆印藏而賞。 How does 上命 relate to the previous clause (具疏投進)? I am not sure how to understand "尚游&...
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meaning of "正相發"

There is this passage from the Doctrine of the Mean: ""Hence the sovereign may not neglect the cultivation of his own character. Wishing to cultivate his character, he may not neglect to ...
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Meaning of "辭" in a passage from 晦庵先生朱文公集

I have a question concerning a passage from a text by Zhu Xi. The full passage goes as follows (passages I have problem with are marked): "唐子西嘗曰,弘景知本草而未知經。注本草誤,其禍疾而小,注六經誤,其禍遲而大。前世儒臣引經誤國,其禍至於伏屍百萬,...
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說苑 Chapter 16, 小人以耳目導心

Chapter 16 of 說苑 contains the following: 聖人以心導耳目,小人以耳目導心。 The literal meaning is quite obvious. But I'm not sure what the author is trying to convey. In particular, what's wrong with letting your ...
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論語 4-5 裡的「之」指甚麼? What does 之 refer to?

I speak modern Mandarin. I'm trying to learn classical Chinese. Reading Van Norden's Guide for absolute beginners, I'm stuck in Lesson 7, Analects 4.5: 「子曰。富與貴。是人之所欲也。不以其道得之。不處也。貧與賤。是人之所惡也。不以其道得之。不去也。」...
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Is there a translation of the daodejing into modern mandarin grammar?

Apologies for a classic "lmgtfy" question, but you probably appreciate that the nature of what I'm asking is hard to properly convey to a search engine, regardless of whether the query is ...
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2 votes
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非 at the beginning of a sentence - Classical Chinese

I have a problem with the following sentence in Zhu Xi's commentary to Mencius: 非孟子造道之深,不能形容至此也 How one should translate 非 at the beginning of this passage? From what I understand it is something like ...
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How does Classical Chinese deal with vertical numbered lists and punctuation marks?

So I want to create a document in Chinese but there's just one problem: How do ancient and modern day chinese deal with numbered lists while in vertical format and how do they use punctuation marks in ...
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Difference of 青 and 黑

My dictionary tells 青 can mean black. My questions are: Is 青 generally used to mean black? In other words, is it always ambiguous to some extent whether it means blue or black? When it means black, ...
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Are languages such as Wu, Yue, Jin, Min, Hakka, Xiang, Gan, Huizhou, and Pinghua written in Classical Chinese or Written vernacular?

Is language such as Wu, Yue, Jin, Min, Hakka, Xiang, Gan, Huizhou, and Pinghua written in Classical Chinese or Written vernacular?
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How do I precisely understand 坐井而观天,曰天小者,非天小也 (the origin of the chengyu 坐井观天)?

CC-CEDICT: 坐井观天 (zuò​jǐng​guān​tiān) lit. to view the sky from the bottom of a well (idiom); ignorant and narrow-minded The origin of the above 成语 (idiom) is reported to be the line 坐井而观天,曰天小者,非天小也。 ...
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Timeframe for Learning Ancient Chinese

As a complete newbie to the Chinese language, I would like to ask the following questions. What is an approximate time for learning enough of the Chinese language to be able to read something like ...
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I want to get a tattoo that says "Ambitious" in Chinese. However I don't fully trust google translate

野心的 is what I "Ambitious" means in google translate. Is this right? If not can someone let me know how it is actually written?
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What does 大出天下 mean?

It is found in an exhibition of Qin Dynasty held in Xi'an city. The exact words are 秦国35代国君发奋图强,做好了“大出天下”的准备。I have checked the words online for the meaning, but finding no answer.But roughly I think ...
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Parsing this text from Mencius

https://ctext.org/dictionary.pl?if=en&id=12913&remap=gb#s10096477 朝秦楚,莅中国而抚四夷也 As per the translation, it seems like 秦楚 are doing the 朝'ing and the 中国 are doing the 莅'ing, so why do these ...
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How to parse 轉所依識?

From the Lankavatara Sutra: sūkṣmamabhivijñānaparāvṛttikuśalānāṃ Bodhiruci: 能轉一切微細識 Śikṣānanda: 能以妙慧轉所依識 Suzuki: to cause a revulsion in the depth of the mind fittingly by means of an exquisite ...
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4 votes
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Retention of 其 as a modal particle in modern Chinese

There is a recent Chinese Stack Exchange question on the significance of 其 in 尤其, given the meaning of the word is largely contributed by 尤. I am quite confident that some of the answers in the thread ...
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Can someone explain 衣锦尚炯 character by character?

Can someone explain 衣锦尚炯 character by character? I tried wiktionary but to no avail 😰 This is supposed to mean "She covered her brocade gown with a plain robe." Source: http://www.acmuller....
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4 votes
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What does 苦 mean here?

初,安肅州苦徐水之害,訴於大司農司,大司農司欲奪水故道,導水使東。東則清苑境也,地勢不利,果導之,則清苑被其害,而水亦必反故道為災。 from: https://ctext.org/wiki.pl?if=gb&chapter=415731&remap=gb My translation thus far: At first, Ansu City (???) some sort ...
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What is the evidence that "Ospreys" are the birds in the first poem in the Shijing?

Legge used "Ospreys" to name the first poem in the Shijing. Karlgren often cites it that way, but his own translation leaves it as "ts'u - kiu  bird." (Book of Odes, Museum of Far ...
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2 votes
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How can 盼 refer to black and white?

Analect 3.8 quotes from the Book of Songs, 碩人 - Shuo Ren which is Airs of Wei 57 in Waley's version.   『巧笑倩兮,美目盼兮,素以為絢兮。』 But the last 5 characters do not occur in the Book of Songs as we have it. ...
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Ancient meaning of the the character 思

The Analect 2.2 quotes from the Book of Odes, and Arthur Waley claims there is a difference between how Confucius there reads the character 思 (sī, think) and how it was used in the Ode.  Waley claims ...
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3 votes
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How do I analyze "惟意所欲適" and "惟所欲為"?

"惟意所欲適" is a phrase from the Chinese poem 《有馬示徐無黨》: 惟意所欲適,九州可周尋。 I assume that "所欲適" is "所-phrase" and "意" is the subject, then where is the predicate? ...
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What is the meaning of the passage ”天下失道,而後仁義生焉……“?

I came across this passage: 天下失道,而後仁義生焉。國家不治,而後孝子生焉。民爭不分,而後慈惠生焉。道逆時反,而 後權謀生焉。 To translate, I think it would be "When all have lost their way, benevolence shall follow thereof. When the kingdom ...
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How do you write, "one who does good" in Classical Chinese?

This is a practice from Rouzer Paul's book. It says, PRACTICE: Put the following into literary Chinese: One who does good leads the heart (away) from disaster. I think the predicate is ... 導心於禍, ...
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What does "相兼岂" mean in this sentence from a Taiji Quan manual?

The following sentence is from a short passage about "体用“ (utilizing/controlling the body) in the context of the 13 Forms of Taiji Quan: "体用相兼岂有他浩然气能行乎手。掤捋按採挒肘靠進退顾盼定." My current ...
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Textual Examples of Honorifics used (contemporary/historical) [closed]

Could anyone recommend some texts or videos where Chinese honorifics are used? I have a list of types of Chinese honorifics but not any textual examples.
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Are there published adaptations of the Analects in Modern Mandarin?

Bilingual (English/Chinese) editions of the Analects seem to be set using standard, Modern Mandarin fonts. And some of the analects are pretty easy to read with a Modern Mandarin background -- with a ...
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3 votes
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According to the official rules of pinyin, should 道德经 be transcribed with or without spaces between the individual syllables?

While reading the Wikipedia article about the 道德经 / 道德經, I noticed how inconsistent it is in its pinyin transcription of that book title. Here are the transliterations found in the article (the link ...
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What means Nanfu? (Characters identified: 阿難)

A friend of mine bought that stone a while ago With the help of a friend, we were about to determine that the words in small seal script means (from left to right) 難 (difficult) and 阜 (plentiful). ...
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"以 V 之" as a post-nominal modifier in Classical Chinese

In English, we can say "He bought something to eat," where "to eat" functions like an adjective to "something." I'm wondering whether in Classical Chinese, "以 V 之&...
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meaning of 從 in 必操几杖以從之

In the following sentence, what does 從 mean? What is the implicit subject of 從之? 謀於長者,必操几杖以從之。 I'd appreciate your help.
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"食人" in Classical Chinese of the 先秦 period

I'd like to know whether "食人" is used in Classical Chinese of the 先秦 period. I am not looking for "食人肉."
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In classical Chinese, does 從 always imply the follower is lower in rank?

When 從 in Classical Chinese means "to follow", literally as in "John followed Peter to the park," does the subject (the follower) necessarily refer to someone who is lower in rank ...
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What does this phrase outside Yue Fei Temple mean? (Characters identified: 乾坤正氣)

Another phrase as 岳王廟 that I can't make out, this one outside the main courtyard. I can only make out the last two characters: 正氣. I found this image at kknews.
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What is the meaning of 元亨利贞 in the I-Ching?

Probably the most cryptic lines of the 周易 Book of Changes, it reads: 元亨利贞 yuan2 heng1 li4 zhen1 This is the Judgement to the very first hexagram, 乾卦 The Creative. The same characters also appear ...
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In 则无迟重之虞所谓顶头悬也, does 顶头悬 translate to "Incoming Danger"?

I stumbled across this word in an old Tai Ji Quan text, in the following context: 则无迟重之虞所谓顶头悬也。 I translated the main part of this sentence as "Don't be paralyzed by fear, which is referred to as....
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3 votes
3 answers
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word meaning of 回也其庶乎 in Classical Chinese

Could someone explain the meaning of every character after "也" in "回也其庶乎"? I'd appreciate your help.
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What is the original quote of “To be calm is the highest achievement of the self"?

This is allegedly a "Zen proverb": “To be calm is the highest achievement of the self” I tried to look for it by searching on Google, but I could not find the original. What is the original text ...
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How to rhyme (押韻) when translating poetry?

I found the following traslation of Psalm 1:3-4 of the Bible amazingly elegant: 譬彼林木、植於溪旁、隨時結果、其葉青蒼、百事允臧、維彼惡者、猶之粃糠、爲風飄揚。 English (KJV): And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of ...
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