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 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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Is “之” usually used as a possessive pronoun (attributive) in Classical Chinese?

True or False Question: In classical Chinese, “之” is usually used as a possessive pronoun (attributive), “其” is usually used as a subject, and “彼” is usually used as an object. a. True b. ...
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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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(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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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 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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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 ...
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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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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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What character is this? (yu2)

The book "A First Course in Literature" from Shaddick uses this character: In the vocabulary section it is explained as "TV to cross; to exceed". But I can't seem to find this character anywhere else ...
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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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 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 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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Using 變音 when reading Classical Chinese poetry in Cantonese

The poem 《登鸛雀樓》 (Climbing Stork Tower) has the final line 更上一層樓. If I were to read this in Cantonese, would I pronounce the final character as lau4 (without 變音), or lau2 (with 變音)? My guess would be ...
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Poetic two-character words of the form: Verb + Natural Noun?

I was looking for examples in Mandarin of poetic two-character words. What words have the following form... Verb + Noun ...where the noun is something that occurs in nature? The first examples ...
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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...