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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143 views

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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146 views

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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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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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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What is the purpose of 焉 in 「不近人情焉」?

The full sentence is: 「肩吾问於连叔曰:“吾闻言於接舆,大而无当,往而不返,吾惊怖其言,犹河汉而无极也!大有迳庭,不近人情焉。”」 焉 means "where" or "at" (correct me if I'm wrong), so what does 焉 serve here?
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What is the Chinese term for a DGEN or Degen Gambler

What is the Chinese term for a DGEN gambler or a Degen Gambler, this phrase is usually used not in a bad way by pro gamblers who considers themselves or others DGEN/Degen gamblers as they thrive and ...
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126 views

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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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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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 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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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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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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Problem in understanding classical Chinese sentences

Recently, a friend asked me about some meaning of several sentences of classical Chinese, which I also can't understand. 对扬王休,用作尊彜。 呜呼!余夙夜维商密,不显,谁和? 汝慎和称五权,维中是以,以长小子于位,实维永宁。 今商孽竞时逋播以辅,余何循? 朕闻维时兆厥工非不显....
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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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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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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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What is the function of 乃 in 子甫至乃去乎 ?

i understand: 子甫至 - you just arrived a moment ago. 去 - go. 乎 - character that makes the sentence a question. What is the role of 乃 in this sentence?
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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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189 views

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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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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What is the 行 in 行有餘力?

The passage in the analects, whence it came, reads: 子曰:「弟子,入則孝,出則弟,謹而信, 凡愛眾,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」 Very broadly I understand it: Students and sons at home should be filial, leaving home they should ...
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693 views

What's the etymology and significance of yuenyeung (鴛鴦)?

鴛鴦 is a mix of tea and coffee commonly had in Hong Kong (amongst other south-asian countries). I was wondering about how this drink came into being? Where does the title come from (especially the ...
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553 views

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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318 views

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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也 in classical Chinese as copula

I've been doing my research on 者 and in one of the articles I read I came across a sentence from "Analects": 安见方六七十如五六十而非邦也者。 Glosses for this example are as follows: where see size six-or-...
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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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47 views

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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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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176 views

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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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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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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51 views

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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250 views

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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287 views

Is there a serial verb construction in classical Chinese?

Serial verb constructions are several verbs in sequence constituting one single predicate to describe a whole event. Example from Wikipedia: 我(I) 坐(sit) 飞机(aircraft) 从(depart) 上海(Shanghai) 到(arrive) ...
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What are common adverbs in classical Chinese?

As far as i know, adverbs in classical chinese are put right in front of the verb, whereas in English their position is quiet freely. for instance: 並食 = to eat sitting next to each other 尽食 = to ...
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Does anyone recognize the characters written on this home shrine? [closed]

So far I can read most of the characters on this picture, except 1 character. The characters on the center is: 忠義 (zhong1yi4 - Tiong-gī), which means: Loyalty and is related to the story of the three ...
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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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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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63 views

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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118 views

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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134 views

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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157 views

How to translate 冲 in a phrase 道冲。

Is there any meaning of the character 冲 that allows to translate it as Vessel (or empty vessel)? The section four of 道德经 states: "道沖而用之或不盈" - 冲 is usually translated here as an empty vessel or ...
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883 views

“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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157 views

Could you give annotated examples regarding the grammar of a sentence in classical Chinese where 爾 is used as an adverbial suffix?

爾 here used as an adverbial suffix of classical Chinese.
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159 views

Included or Not Included As In “以後” “以來”, etc

Check out the references below, we see that Japanese has the same problem as Chinese: Does "以X" include the word itself, eg. is 1 included in "1以上"? As what I have seen, in old Chinese books, there ...
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334 views

How can I put the understandability of classical Chinese and modern Chinese into scale?

I am trying to explain to English-speaking people how different classical Chinese (文言文) and modern Chinese (白话文) are. I would like to put this into scale. Basically, if an average modern Chinese ...
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79 views

What does this phrase mean in Chinese “珉,石之美玉者”?

Seems to be a line of poetry from ancient times?
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393 views

Has Unicode included these Classical Chinese characters?

I've found these characters in an old dictionary about Classical Chinese / Sino-Vietnamese / Vietnamese. Although they can be analyzed pictorially (I don't know better words), I personally can't find ...