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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508 views

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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What is the usage of 蔑 as a negation word in classical chinese?

I read someone mentioning 蔑 as a negation word in classical Chinese, but unfortunately without explaining how it works or an example sentence. So I looked it up in my dictionary and it only showed me ...
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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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Reasons for Chinese changing from monosyllabic to disyllabic?

Classical and Middle Chinese are often considered monosyllabic languages - most words are single syllables. Modern Chinese however is considered disyllabic - most words are two syllables. For example,...
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178 views

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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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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“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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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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What's the difference between Classical Chinese and Modern Chinese?

What I mean by difference is its grammatical difference. How is Classical Chinese grammatically different from today's Chinese? Is modern Chinese's golden rule similar or equivalent to some rules in ...
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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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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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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?
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Why is 景 written “wrong” on the Nestorian Stele?

I noticed that 景 is written on the Tang-era Nestorian Stele with the "boxes" switched, ie. the 口 is above and 日 is below. Would this be a standard way to write the character during that time, or is it ...
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“There was no attitude of poverty in his poetry” 絶無窮態

more Joseon dynasty classical Chinese. In the poetry he had written, in the end, there was no attitude of poverty. How was it he never became well-known? 其所爲詩絶無窮態。竟不振。何哉。 Does this make sense? Can ...
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The meaning of 得趣…to get a taste for something?

More from Chouchengzhi. I would appreciate thoughts on my translation of the following...my supervisor doesn't like my translation of 得趣 at all! Does it mean something more like 'to get a taste for ...
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Another couple of doozies: 許臣時一中之… and 敢不勉增淸烈。益播芳芬。

Ok folks, I have another asshole section from the text I am working on, Suseongji (Chouchengzhi), by a 16th century Joseon literatus... This time, this passage is driving me nuts: 攻愁有方。許臣時一中之。不疑於用。...
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For a long time, I caused the <wide world> to be <manlang 漫浪>

I'm working on a literary translation of a 16th century Joseon prose narrative, and I'm here to ask for help with a few of the bits I'm finding gnarly and confusing. I've hit on the passage: 久作江湖之漫浪。 ...
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Dealing with expressions in classical Chinese letters: 月日 and 惶恐百拜

Are there standard translations for phrases like 月日 and 惶恐百拜, used in correspondence in premodern times? 'A day of a month' and 'I cower fearfully and bow a hundred times' don't really...y'know...WORK ...
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What is a one-character translation of the English word “Freedom”?

I've been trying to find a single-character translation of the word "freedom," but I can't seem to find one anywhere. The best translation I can find is, of course, 自由, which seems to be a fairly ...
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Classical Chinese question. 古文。 Meaning of 起予?

I'm translating a classical Chinese text into English and the phrase "起予“ 让我头痛。 Please, help. This is the full classical text (from the Confucian analects) : 子夏問曰:「『巧笑倩兮, 美目盼兮, 素以為絢兮。』何謂也? 子曰: 「...
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What is meaning of the sentence 「夫非盡人之子與」?

夫非盡人之子與 I only understand this sentence from classical Chinese to a very low degree. 夫 could be some kind of sentence particle or simply mean "man". 非 and 與 often belong together, 非 negates a ...
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Is there strong evidence that Classical Chinese was ever spoken?

Classical Chinese (Wenyan) diverges sharply from modern varieties, as any student of classical texts will note whether foreign or native Chinese. Wenyan has a long written history, but is there ...
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How to understand “实” in this context? ”五侯九伯,女实征之“(《齐桓公伐楚盟屈完》)之“实”字何以训?

《齐桓公伐楚盟屈完》,出《左传》僖公四年,原文节此: ”昔召康公命我先君太公曰:‘五侯九伯,女实征之,以夹辅周室。’” 这个“实”字当何以训?“实”常见的释义里,大概只有“真正、真确”还强通文意。但看到《康熙字典》里“实”又有“具數”一义:“又具數也。《史記·始皇本紀》使黔首自實田。《註》謂令民自具頃畝實數也。”用来训此“实”,是否得当?有更好的解释吗?
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meaning of 傳 in 傳不習乎?

In Analects, chapter 4, 「吾日三省吾身 為人謀而不忠乎? 與朋友交而不信乎? 傳不習乎?」 I would translate it: Master Ceng said: everyday I check three things in myself: do I plan my behavior without loyalty? do I make friends ...
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Can someone translate this for me? It's a family heirloom [closed]

My grandfather found this during WWI, would love to know what it says
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How to explain the structure of “将在外,军令有所不受。”

In my own opinion, this sentence should be "将在外,军令不受". I can hardly imagine any use of "有" and "所" here. Could someone explain the structure of this sentence?
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Can “未” modify descriptive adjectives?

Can “未” modify descriptive adjectives (in either classical or modern Chinese)? I've previously asked about the correctness of the phrase "未長未短", but I think 長 and 短 are used as verbs (instead of ...
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Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)?

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)? The article http://www.hainan-today.com/2012/201201/web/201201_28.htm uses “未長未短”: 但与大门前的“翻天覆地”相比,作为景区主体之一的“雨林谷”变化却“含蓄”许多,景观还是两年前的样子,没多没少,...
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Chinese Chengyu (Idiom): Refute somebody with his own argument

Is there a Chinese Idiom for "Refute somebody with his own argument"? I thought this is not quite the same as "self-contradictory" 自相矛盾. Thank you.
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What does the phrase “足矣” mean?

I saw this phrase recently in a post online. The whole sentence is 人生得一知己足矣. I think 人生得一知己 means "getting a BFF(?) in one's life". (The only meaning of the word 知己 that I know of is BFF, but please ...
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What is the relationship between vernacular and literary Chinese?

I don't quite get the difference between and relationship of vernacular Chinese to literary Chinese. I know that "literary Chinese" does not represents sounds, the way an alphabet does, so it is ...
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Confucius quote: what's the original?

The man who moves a mountain starts by carrying away small stones. This is (reportedly) a quote from the Analects of Confucius. I have tried looking for 山 in the whole Wikisource text and found the ...
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Meaning of 莫逮 in Classical texts?

Some examples of 莫逮 found in Classical texts: 三國志.卷二十一.魏書.王粲傳:「昔伯牙絕絃於鍾期,仲尼覆醢于子路,痛知音之難遇,傷門人之莫逮也。」 《南齐书·周盘龙传》 形甚羸訥, 而臨軍勇果, 諸將莫逮。 《宋史•朱弁传》:“叹马角之未生,魂销雪窖;攀龙髯而莫逮,泪洒冰天。” 《荀子·尧问》 楚莊王 謀事而當羣臣莫逮, 退朝而有憂色。 I'...
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Medieval Chinese Pronunciation

It's here! The A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese dictionary is finally out! Language Log says: A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese All of the people ...
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How is 青 and 苍 used in classical Chinese to denote colors?

Here is what the dictionary says about 青:  1. 深绿色或浅蓝色:~草。~苔。 Dark Blue or light green.  2. 靛蓝色:靛~。~紫。 Indigo blue.  3. 黑色:~布。~衣。 Black. Similar case is 苍:  1. 深青色,深绿色:~翠。~天。 Dark blue or green.  2. ...
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Through which processes became words in classical Chinese that tautological?

There are a lot of different words for many concepts in classical Chinese, for instance for the personal pronouns. Due to which circumstances could this happen?
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How can the expression “高就” be understood grammatically?

I've heard the phrase 您高就 without an interrogative rise at the end. The way it was spoken sounded like a statement, but in context it was more like a question. Can this phrase be a question? Or was ...
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What is the ancient Chinese one-character name for woman like '子’ means man?

青青子衿,悠悠我心。但为君故,沉吟至今 Here: 子,对对方的尊称 子 implicitly implies the poem is addressing a man. The poem talks about how a lady misses a man. I just wonder if there is a corresponding word for Chinese. (i.e. ...
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What kind of typology does ancient Chinese belong to?

Modern Chinese belongs to the group of languages are isolating, just like English, but even purer. English once was not isolating but possessed flection. Is the situation with English similar to that ...
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What is the meaning and usage of 于之 and its contraction 焉 in classical Chinese?

I've read 于 was a preposition, but there were many unrelated translations for it. 之 is as far as I know an object pronoun, like for instance him, her, them but can also mean somthing different. How ...
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441 views

What is the average number of words necessary to read classical Chinese?

I heard classical Chinese had a limited amount of vocabularies compared to modern Chinese. How many words one has to learn in order to acquire average reading abilities, disregarding the grammar?
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221 views

What are some profanity words in classical Chinese?

It is easy to find profanity words for modern Chinese, but I could not find any profanity words for classical Chinese. Even such simple ones as "to fuck". Please help to promote this knowledge.
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Is the character 攜 still used in modern Chinese?

This character has in classical Chinese a very common meaning, namely "to take", like in the sentence: 攜妻子至海岸。 (To take wife and children and arrive at the sea shore). I recognize many characters ...