Questions tagged [literary-chinese]

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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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 ...
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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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Meaning of 道生一,一生二,二生三,三生万物

During one class we talk about how Chinese families give name to their children, however the conclusion is a little bit confusing for me. Context: they give to a child the following name -> 冯一 Can ...
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How are “vernacular” and “literary” readings of characters chosen and used outside of Mandarin?

There are other posts that mention the relationship between classical Chinese vis-a-vis Mandarin (e.g., this one and this one), but what defines the use of "literary" and "vernacular" readings in ...
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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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Chinese aphorism about smile

There are many aphorisms in ancient chinese literature. One of them goes somewhat like: "An angry fist does not hit a smiling face" Please help me to translate it into Chinese correctly. Google ...
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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。 ...
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how to translate “何如” in 呂氏春秋?

this question is made, and answer provided; in response to a comment in another question: How to translate the phrase 利而物利章 in context? cause, my explanation is too long to put in the comment area; ...
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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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老氏讀易得間 Help me understand this, not homework

My question is about the phrase 老氏讀易得間 which I have seen translated as "Laozi's school read between the lines of the I Jing." I am having trouble getting my reading of it to the point where that ...
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Can anyone tell me what this means please? I think it is a proverb

A friend left me this at work, I think it is a proverb but Google gave me different translations each time which confused me as none of it made sense.
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How to Interpret 認不真 in this sentence?

The context is the reader has just been told that in [blank] he 須認真. [blank]須認真.若認不真. 便都成了假的. What puzzles me is the 不 in the middle of 認真. I understand that each character by itself is a word, but ...
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How to define this usage of '以'"?

“时间给勤奋者以荣誉,给懒汉以耻辱.” This is a quote from Gao Shiqi. I understand the basic meaning of it, but what is a good way to define the usage of 以? It can mean many different things in Chinese and is ...
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Origin of Chinese Parable: Devils and Righteous Man

Can anyone point to the origin of this Chinese parable? “A man travelling through the country came to a large city, very rich and splendid; he looked at it and said to his guide, ‘This must be a very ...
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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 is the verbatim (grammatical) meaning of 不了​了之?

不了​了之 is a ChengYu, read as bu4 liao3 liao3 zhi1 its figurative meaning is "to let sth. in its original state". I guess the ChengYu had some concrete verbatim meaning in literary Chinese, but I do not ...
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What is the meaning of 庸 in 利之而不庸?

A random passage from Mencius is: 殺之而不怨,利之而不庸,民日遷善而不知為之者 The first two lines have the same structure V1 之而不 V2, wherein V1 is expressing someone doing something to another and V2 how this one ...
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What is the meaning of 庸 in the phrase 毋庸置疑?

毋庸置疑 is a chengyu. Its meaning is "beyound any doubt", but what is its verbatim meaning in literary Chinese? 毋 is like "don't" 置 is "to place, to put" 疑 is "doubt" 庸 I am not sure of the correct ...
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What is the translation for 淫之以色,啗之以利,養之以味,娛之以樂?

淫之以色,啗之以利,養之以味,娛之以樂 is a sentence from 六韜 (six secret teachings), a book about strategies. There are 4 lines each containing 4 characters and the same pattern: A 之以 B, wherein A and B are semantically ...
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What is the grammatical function of 當 and 自 in 爾男子,當自警 ?

Two lines from 三字經 are 爾男子,當自警. I understand 爾男子 as "you boys" as if asking for attention by adressing them. 警 is to warn or to guard or being in a state of attentive observation. Now as for 當 and 自 ...
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What is the meaning of 豫兮 in 豫兮若冬涉川 ?

A random phrase from the 道德經 is 豫兮若冬涉川 . I understand the part 若冬涉川 as "like crossing a stream in the winter" where "in the winter is used" is used adverbially, so a more verbatim translation might ...
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What is the meaning of 貪人之有者殘?

貪人之有者殘 is a phrase from 素書. I am not able to understand the grammatical structure of this sentence. For instance: 貪: does it mean greedy or make s.o. greedy, or consider s.o. greedy , or greed (noun)...
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What is translation for 或作譈懟,亦書作憞 ?

In the sentence from the Kang-Xi Dictionary 或作譈懟,亦書作憞, I looked up the characters 譈,懟,憞 all are pronounced dui4 and all are translated as to hate. I am confused and do not know how to deal with ...
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what is the translation for 或啁之曰 ?

A random phrase from Lun-Heng begins with 或啁之曰, as far as I understand its parts mean: 或 someone 啁 to chirp, to twitter 之 objectpronoun "it,him,her" as in "I like him, I talk about it" 曰 to say (...
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Is the phrase 南狩之志,乃大得也 ironically ?

A random phrase from 周易 is 南狩之志,乃大得也. I tried to translate it using the following thoughts. 乃 is probably a conjunction and renders to "in fact, actually" to stress something not as expected. 大得 ...
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What is the cultural meaning of the practice 歃 when taking an oath ?

I came across the character 歃 , namely in the sentence: 葵丘之會諸侯,束牲、載書而不歃血 it is glossed as "to smear one's mouth with the blood of a victim to take an oath". I have searched for further details ...
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Chinese literature vocabulary

I'm looking for synonyms of everyday words, and I realized many of these "complicated words" are used in Chinese literature. Is there a name for this group of words? For example, we sometimes read 蓦然 ...
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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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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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张九龄《感遇》“奈何阻重深”句解/Translation of a sentence in one of Zhang Jiuling's poems

张九龄《感遇》之一首: 江南有丹橘,经冬犹绿林。 岂伊地气暖?自有岁寒心。 可以荐嘉客,奈何阻重深。 运命惟所遇,循环不可寻。 徒言树桃李,此木岂无阴? 请问其中“奈何阻重深”一句怎么讲?“重”应读阳平还是去声? 此诗作者借歌颂丹橘以表自己遭排挤的愤懑心情,表达自己的坚贞不屈。“可以荐嘉客”句“荐”作“赠送”解。
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How Archaic is James Legge's Written Chinese in this Side by Side English/Chinese Book?

I'm not sure if this is even an appropriate question for this venue, but here's hoping. I want to read the translated works of Zhuangzi on this site, but I'd like to know how archaic the original ...
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Specifics of the idiom “四海一家”

There are several sayings and idioms similar to 四海一家 which reference "四海". Does the 四海 actually refer to 4 specific oceans such as the Indian, Pacific etc. or is it more of a metaphor for all of the ...
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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 ...