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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Textual Examples of Honorifics used (contemporary/historical)

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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What does the following phrase mean “士不可不弘毅, 任重而道遠”?

I know it's a Confucian saying but I'd like to know the meaning behind it. Anyone have a clue?:)
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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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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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A better translation of 假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无。

In the Chinese classic 红楼梦 ("Dream of Red Mansions"), there is a famous couplet: 假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无。 Pinyin: jiǎ zuò zhēn shí zhēn yì jiǎ, wú wéi yǒu chù yǒu huán wú. This has been translated into ...
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Resources for learning classical Chinese

I have a very strong interest in classical Chinese (文言文), but I am unable to find any ressources for learning it that don't assume Chinese is your mother language. Can anybody give me some pointers?
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What does 㫬 mean in 唯有中大夫楊元愼、給事中大夫王㫬是中原士族?

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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“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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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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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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Are there online resourses that automatically translates English to classical Chinese? [closed]

Google translate supports traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese but not classical Chinese. On the other hand, classical Chinese is one of the supported languages of Wikipedia. Are there online ...
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Unknown Traditional Chinese characters on lacquered boards

I'm a East Asian preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year and have been given these pictures of lacquered boards from my father. The first picture I suspect contains stylized Seal scripts. I cannot ...
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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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Three Chinese characters (?) on the entrance of the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh city (Characters identified: 寶藏院)

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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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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What does “格” mean in “爾國臨格”?

Matthew 6:10 of the Bible is translated as the following in the Delegates Version: 爾國臨格、爾旨得成、在地若天、 The context was Jesus was teaching how to pray and gave an example of a prayer. I fail to ...
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What is the equivalent in Chinese for निताइ (Sanskrit)?

The निताइ Sanskrit Shape (English: Nitaai) is used to practice visualization based meditation with origins in ancient India. Can someone kindly share the Chinese equivalent to be able to write Nitaai ...
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What did Eastern Han Chinese sound like?

As I was improving an answer to this question in the History SE, I discovered that the prestige Luoyang dialect of the Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms period didn't actually fall under Old Chinese but ...
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Using 莫 in Song dynasty Chinese

There is this passage in 语类, where the question of 天地之心 is discussed: 所以明道云:‘天地之常,以其心普万物而无心;圣人之常,以其情顺万事而无情。’说得最好。”问:“普万物,莫是以心周遍而无私否?”曰:“天地以此心普及万物,人得之遂为人之心,物得之遂为物之心,草木禽兽接著遂为草木禽兽之心,只是一个天地之心尔。 I ...
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Scribal convention versus scribal error

Brian van Norden's book Classical Chinese for Everyone says  We have learned from ancient manuscripts discovered in excavated tombs that it was once extremely common for scribes to substitute ...
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Why there is "不” in “太极不是未有天地之先有个浑成之物,是天地万物之理总名否?”

There is this sentence from the opening of the fist chapterof 语类 by Zhu Xi: 太极不是未有天地之先有个浑成之物,是天地万物之理总名否? Baihua version seems to treat the "不是" part as if it ment "是不是" So the sentence would mean ...
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How to identify 使動用法 in Classical Chinese?

How do you identify phrases using 使動用法 in Classical Chinese? Take this excerpt for example (Baidu article here): 然以其鄉之未嘗有也,舟載以歸而誇諸人。(明·方孝孺《遜志齋集》) My initial interpretation of 誇諸人 was 誇贊衆人 (...
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Can you help identify the artist for these Taizong horse rubbings? (Characters identified: 長安市隱李月溪手搨金石章)

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 exactly is an ancient Tang dynasty 壺?

Note: I have now asked this question on the History Stack Exchange also. There are at least 33 types of ancient sacrificial, wine, food and water ritual bronze vessels of ancient China, none of which ...
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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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將以求吾所大欲也 meaning of 將

What meaning of 將 applies? Origin In 孟子there is a sentence where he describes various failings to the king (such as war preparations) and goes on to ask, whether his majesty delights in such. And then ...
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A Scroll which appears to be from 2004 signed 包德和

包德和 Bāo dé hé Longevity Scroll Which I think reads something like '50 Things to buy for an Emperor' Unfortunately I am still learning Chinese characters. Who is the Caligraphy Writer?
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How would I translate “与君知”

Google translate his been giving me straight pinyin as a translation, and pleco doesn't have what I'm looking for. I got the definitions of each individual character, but I'm not sure how to put them ...
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Is there any comprehensive English-language source on Classical Chinese poetic metre?

I’ve been wondering if there are any comprehensive books or locations that deal in Western languages with the peculiarities and norms of the Classical Chinese poetry. The difference between the jueju, ...
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What is the character for romantic love in classical Chinese?

In Mandarin, 愛 means romantic love. However, New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese by Paul Rouzer has this to say about its use in literary Chinese: This character [愛] usually does not imply "...
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Help with Zen Painting translation?

Can anyone help with translating this? I think I see characters for Buddha, Chan Zen and Insight or Seeing Clearly?
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Word count in Classical Chinese vs English

Apologies if the title isn't clear, I'm not sure how to express this. I'm trying to establish roughly how many words a Classical Chinese text results in, once translated into English. Classical ...
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What were the tools that Chinese teachers could use in China, before Zhuyin and Pinyn

I am interested in any answer to that question. I already found a few elements in an old question here: How were Chinese characters taught to Chinese children before the introduction of pinyin? I ...
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Is there a proverb that means “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”?

Is there a Chinese (Mandarin or Classical Chinese) proverb equivalent to the American proverb "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"? I looked it up in the Cambridge English-Traditional Chinese ...
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What is the usage of 子 in 「修我戈矛,与子同仇」?

This particular phrase comes from《诗经·秦风·无衣》 Full: 岂曰无衣?与子同袍。王于兴师,修我戈矛。与子同仇!
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When did the meaning of shi 是 shift from »this« (此) to being a copula (»be«)?

I know this question is somewhat unclear since the word shi 是 never only meant this, but carries (and has done so for a long time) several meanings. The Gu Hanyu da cidian (via Pleco) lists some of ...
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What does “明微推远,憭若蓍蔡” mean?

I got an answer from the internet but cannot make too much out of it. My biggest issue is 蓍蔡. A search reveals this to mean "a person of high moral standing" or some sort of big turtle. So I am not ...
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Is Classical Chinese the shortest language?

Generally speaking, when a lengthy document or a book is translated into different languages, will the classical Chinese be the shortest translation? To put in another way, if the same book is ...
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How would a person start translating classical stories from the Han dynasty?

Stories like both Confucius's Analects and Ying Shao's Fengsu Tonyi seem to use the characters in different ways than I've encountered so far. As an example, I'm currently working on translating a ...
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How do I analyze “是其于主也至忠矣”?

I'd like to know how to analyze "是其于主也至忠矣" word for word. 公行之计,是其于主也至忠矣, I would appreciate your help!
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How do these characters represent the animals in the Chinese Zodiac?

I saw the following characters represent the 12 creatures in the zodiac (in order). 子,丑,寅,卯,辰,巳,午,未,申,酉,戍,亥 This was at a Buddhist temple. Obviously it’s not the standard ones a below: 鼠,牛,虎,兔,龙,蛇,...
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What is this book called? 汉说文

I am beginning Chinese speaker, but I watch this documentary on Chinese characters and they talk about origins of the characters from ideograms. They refer to a book called "Roots of Characters" but ...
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Grammar of 大道無門

On Literature Stack Exchange, someone recently asked a question about the quote 大道無門, which was identified as coming from the collection of Zen koans known as The Gateless Barrier (early thirteenth ...
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What is the difference between 吾 and 我 in 文言文?

For instance, in the phrase 「我善养吾浩然之气」 I notice both 我 and 吾 are used. Is there a reason for this?