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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Classical Chinese Literature - What languages could be written with it? And why?

I understand that classical Chinese (see Wikipedia) was very different from spoken Chinese (at least in the last centuries of its usage). Nevertheless, despite or maybe even because of this, it was ...
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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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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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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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"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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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 were the tools that Chinese teachers could use in China before the introduction of Zhuyin and Pinyn

I am interested in any answer to that question. I already found a few elements in the older question How were Chinese characters taught to Chinese children before the introduction of pinyin? I have ...
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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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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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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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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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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 ...