Classical Chinese/Printable version


Classical Chinese

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Lesson 1

TextEdit

:「     

論語 (Analects) by Confucius and his disciples.

ExplanationEdit

  • : "The master says" or "The master said".
    • : (zǐ) pronoun used to address to a teacher or master. 子 is a respectful form of address to a man, here used to address (Confucius). Other similar uses include (mèng zǐ) for Mencius and (sūn zǐ) for Sun Tzu. In this case, it is assumed by the author that the learned reader will know who spoke the following quote, so it is not necessary to give the exact identity of the speaker.
    • : (yuē) verb to say. 曰 is one of the frequently used words for the verb "to say" in Classical Chinese. However, 曰 is not the only frequently used word for "say". It is not to be confused with , meaning "sun".
  • : Learn and practice often [what you have learnt]
    • : (xué) verb to learn.
    • : (ér) connective and
    • : (shí) often; sometimes
    • : (xí) verb to practise.
    • : (zhī) pronoun third person, meaning it or them.
  • : Isn't it pleasant?
    • : (bū) not
    • : (yì) also (but in this sentence it is meaningless)
    • : (yuè) adj. pleasant. This is a tongjia (interchangeable character) or an original form for .
    • : (hū) (question marker)
  • : Friends have come from distant places. (Or: A friend has come from a distant place.)
    • : (yǒu) to have, there be
    • : (péng) noun friend
    • : (zì) preposition from
    • : (yuǎn) adj. far, distant
    • : (fāng) noun place (literally,"direction")
    • : (lái) verb come
  • : Isn't it enjoyable?
    • : (bú) not
    • : (yì) also (meaningless)
    • : (lè) adj. enjoyable
    • : (hū) (question marker)
  • : [When] other people don't understand [him], but [he] is not angry
    • : (rén) noun people, person.That here means exactly "other person" or "someone".
    • : (bù) not
    • : (zhī) verb know, understand
    • : (ér) but
    • : (bú) not
    • : (yùn) verb to be/get angry
  • : Isn't that (also) how a gentleman should act?
    • : (bú) not
    • : (yì) also (meaningless)
    • : (jūn zǐ) adj. gentlemanly, like a gentleman should act
    • : (hū) (question marker)

GrammarEdit

The grammar of Classical Chinese, in many aspects, is close to English:

  • The subject precedes the verb: (péng lái) 'friend(s) come'
  • The object comes after the verb: (xí zhī) 'practice it'
  • Adjectives used attributively precede nouns: : (yuǎn fāng) distant place


However, there are notable differences:

  • Chinese does not inflect for tense or number. In this example,
    • has no explicit tense: it could be 'Confucius says' or 'Confucius said'
    • has no explicit number: it could be 'Friends have come from distant places' or 'A friend has come from a distant place'
  • Questions are formed by adding a marker at the end (usually it's (), but other markers also exist)
  • No linking verb is used with adjectives: (yuè hū) 'is it pleasant?'; (yuǎn fāng) 'distant place'
    • In fact, Chinese adjectives are close to verbs ( (yuè) 'pleasant, (yuǎn) 'distant'). As you'll see, adjectives and verbs share many similar features, including the fact that they both can be negated with (), unlike nouns.


If you looked up words in the dictionary, you may have noticed that sometimes part of speech marked there doesn't match that in the dictionary:

  • (jūn zǐ) is given as the noun ('gentleman'), not as an adjective ('gentlemanly', 'like a gentleman should act')

It is because of a process called conversion: one part of speech can become another one. This process can also occur in English: "I love her" (a verb) versus "my love" (a noun).



Lesson 2

TextEdit

Vocab & TranslationEdit

Grammar NotesEdit

English sentence of the type: A is B (A was B, etc.), where A and B are nouns, is rendered in Classical Chinese this way: AB也

Note that (yě) is a particle, not a verb like and English is. (Were it verb, it would have been placed between A and B).

Construction «AB也» is used if A is always B in any case. So, for example, you can say «I am a man» — «吾人也», but not «I'm a minister», because it´s something that can be taken from you.

In this case the verb 為 (wéi) is used, and it is a verb, not a particle (therefore it´s put between two nouns, line in English): A為B

For example, «吾為臣» — «I´m a minister».

Note that 為 (wéi) doesn´t change its forms like English verb does (am, is, are, be).



Lesson 3

TextEdit

Vocab & TranslationEdit

Grammar NotesEdit



Lesson 4

TextEdit

Vocabulary & TranslationEdit

  • : The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way. The name that can be named is not the constant name.
    • 道 (dao4) - The first & third: noun the dao, the way, the path; the second: verb to say
    • 可 (ke3) - can, that can be
    • 非 (fei1) - is not
    • 常 (chang2) - eternal(ly), common, constant(ly)
    • 名 (ming2) - The first & third: noun the name; the second: verb to name
  • : Without a name [it is] the beginning of heaven [and] earth. Having a name [it is] the mother of thousands of things.
    • 無 (wu2) - without
    • 天 (tian1) - heaven, the heavens
    • 地 (di4) - land, earth
    • 之 (zhi1) - possessive marker like English 's
    • 始 (shi3) - start, beginning
    • 有 (you3) - to have
    • 萬 (wan4) - 10,000
    • 物 (wu4) - things,
    • 萬物 (wan4 wu4) - the myriad things
    • 母 (mu3) - mother
  • : Therefore constantly [be] without desire in order to see its mystery.
    • 故 (gu4) - reason, cause, therefore
    • 欲 (yu4) - desire
    • 以 (yi3) - in order to
    • 觀 (guan1)- to see
    • 其 (qi2)- his, her, its, their
    • 妙 (miao4) - mystery
  • , : [But] constantly have desire in order to see its frontier.
    • 徼 (jiao4) - frontier, border

Grammar NotesEdit



Lesson 5

TextEdit

Vocab & TranslationEdit



Lesson 6

喜雨亭記

Text Middle Chinese (Baxter transliteration) Ming-T'sing literary Mandarin vocalization (IPA) Glosses Translation
亭以雨名。 deng yiX hjuX mjieng. tʱiŋ˩ ji˥˧ jy˥˧ miŋ˩. kiosk - by - rain - to name The kiosk is named after rain
誌喜也。 tsyiH xiX yaeX. tʃiɨ˨˦ hi˥˧ jiɛ˥˧. record - joy - (comment marker) to record the joy.
古者有喜。 kuX tsyaeX hjuwX xiX. ku˥˧ tʃiɛ˥˧ jiw˥˧ hi˥˧. ancient - one(s) - to have - joy When the ancient ones had something to celebrate,
則以名物。 tsok yiX mjieng mjut. tsəʔ(k) ji˥˧ miŋ˩ vuʔ(t)˩. then - by (it) - to name - object they named an object after it
示不忘也。 zyijH pjuw mjang yaeX. ʃʱiɨ˨˦ puʔ(t) vɑŋ˩ jiɛ˥˧. show - do not - forget - (comment marker) to show that they would not forget it.
周公得禾。 tsyuw kuwng tok hwa. tʃiw kuŋ təʔ(k) ɦwɔ˩. Tsyuw - duke - to gain - wheat When Duke Tsyuw received the Wheat,
以名其書。 yiX mjieng gi syo. ji˥˧ miŋ˩ kʱi˩ ʃy. by (it) - to name - her/his/its - writing(s) he named his written piece after it.
漢武得鼎。 xanH mjuX tok tengX. hɑn˨˦ vu˥˧ təʔ(k) tiŋ˥˧. XanH - MjuX - to gain - tengX(three legged ceremonial cauldron) When emperor XanH MjuX gained his vessel,
以名其年。 yiX mjieng gi nen. ji˥˧ miŋ˩ kʱi˩ niɛn˩. by (it) - to name - her/his/its - year He named his era after it.
叔孫勝敵。 syuwk swon syingH dek. ʃyuʔ(k) sun ʃiŋ˨˦ diʔ(k)˩. Syuwk - Swon - to win - enemy When Syuwk Swon prevailed against his enemy,
以名其子。 yiX mjieng gi tsiX. ji˥˧ miŋ˩ kʱi˩ tsɨ˥˧. by (it) - to name - her/his/its - son he named his son after the enemy.
其喜之大小不齊。 gi xiX tsyi dajH sjewX pjuw dzej. kʱi˩ hi˥˧ tʃiɨ dai˨˦ siɛw˥˧ puʔ(t) tsʱi˩. her/his/its - joy - (genitive marker) - to be big - to be small - do not - to be even The scale of the celebrated matter was not all the same,
其示不忘一也。 gi zyijH pjuw mjang 'jit yaeX. kʱi˩ ʃʱiɨ˨˦ puʔ(t) vɑŋ˩ 'jit jiɛ˥˧. her/his/its - to show - do not - to forget - to be one - (comment marker) yet their gesture of unforgettability were of the same intention.
予至扶風之明年。 yo tsyijH bju pjuwng tsyi mjaeng nen. jy˩ tʃiɨ˨˦ fʱu˩ fuŋ tʃiɨ miŋ˩ niɛn˩. I - to arrive - Bju - Pjuwng - (genitive marker) - morrow - year In the second year since my arrival at Bju-pjuwng,
始治官舍。 syiX dri kwan syaeH. ʃiɨ˥˧ tʃʱi˩ kwɔn ʃiɛ˨˦. to start - to manage - officer - house I started improving my official residence,
爲亭於堂之北。 hjwe deng 'jo dang tsyi pok. ui˩ tʱiŋ˩ ʔy tʱɑŋ˩ tʃiɨ pəʔ(k). to do - kiosk - at - hall - (genitive) - North building a kiosk to the north of the hall
而鑿池其南。 nyi dzuw/dzak drje gi nom. ɻ˩ dzuʔ(k)˩/dzɒʔ(k)˩ tʃʱi˩ kʱi˩ nam˩. and/but - to chisel - pond - her/his/its - South and carving out a pool to the south of it
引流種樹。 yinX ljuw tsyowngX dzyuH. jin˥˧ liw˩ tʃyuŋ˥˧ ʃʱy˨˦. to introduce - flow - to plant - tree to bring water in for planting trees
以爲休息之所。 yiX hjwe xjuw sik tsyi srjoX. ji˥˧ ui˩ hiw siʔ(k) tʃiɨ ʂu˥˧. (purpose marker) - to do - to rest - to pause - (genitive marker) - location in order to build a place of relief.
是歲之春。 dzyeX sjwejH tsyi tsyhwin. ʃʱiɨ'˨˦ sui˨˦ tʃiɨ tʃʰyun. this - year - (genitive marker) - the season centered around Spring equinox In the early spring of the same year,
雨麥於歧山之陽。 hjuH meak 'jo gjie srean tsyi yang. jy˨˦ məʔ(k)˩ ʔy kʱi˩ ʂan tʃiɨ jiɑŋ˩. to precipitate - wheat - at - Gjie - mountain - (genitive marker) - bright side Wheat fell from heaven to the south slope of Mount Gjie -
其占爲有年。 gi tsyem hjwe hjuwX nen. kʱi˩ tʃiɛm ui˩ jiw˥˧ niɛn˩. it - to foretell - to hold possesion - year an omen of a plentiful year.
既而彌月不雨。 kj+jH nyi mjie ngjwot pjuw hjuX. ki˨˦ ɻ˩ mi˩ (ŋ)yuɛʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) jy˥˧. to finish - and - long - month - do not - to rain Yet since then, rain did not fall for as long as one month
民方以爲憂。 mjin pjang yiX hjwe 'juw. min˩ fɑŋ ji˥˧ ui˩ ʔiw. commoner - right then - to consider (it) - to be as - worry and the people started to considered it worrieable.
越三月。 hjwot sam ngjwot. jyuɛʔ(t)˩ sam (ŋ)yuɛʔ(t)˩. to skip - three - month Three months passed,
乙卯乃雨。 ’it maewX nojX hjuX. ʔiʔ(t) maw˥˧ nai˥˧ jy˥˧. ’It - MaewX - only then - to rain it was the day of ’It MaewX (52nd day in a 60-day cycle), and only then did rain fall.
甲子又雨。 kaep tsiX hjuwH hjuX. kiaʔ(p) tsɨ˥˧ jiw˨˦ jy˥˧. Kaep - TsiX - further more - to rain On the day of Kaep TsiX (first day in a 60-day cycle), it rained again.
民以爲未足。 mjin yiX hjwe mj+jH tsjowk. min˩ ji˥˧ ui˩ vi˨˦ tsyuʔ(k). commoner - to consider (it) - to be as - not yet - to be enough People did not feel that it was enough.
丁卯大雨。 teng maewX dajH hjuX. tiŋ maw˥˧ dai˨˦ jy˥˧. Teng - MaewX - to be big - to rain On the day of Teng MaewX (4th day in a 60-day cycle), rain fell heavily
三日乃止。 sam nyit nojX tsyiX. sam ʒiʔ(t)˩ nai˥˧ tʃiɨ˥˧. three - day - only then - to stop and did not stop until three days had passed.
官吏相與慶於庭。 kwan liH sjang yoX khjaengH 'jo deng. kwɔn li˨˦ siɑŋ jy˥˧ kʰiŋ˨˦ ʔy tʱiŋ˩. officer - government worker - mutually - to join - to celebrate - at - court The officers joined each other celebrating in the court,
商賈相與歌於市。 syang kuX sjang yoX ka 'jo dzyiX. ʃiɑŋ ku˥˧ siɑŋ jy˥˧ kɔ ʔy ʃʱiɨ'˨˦. merchants - - mutually - to join - to sing - at - market the merchants with each other singing in the market
農夫相與忭於野。 nowng pju sjang yoX bjenH 'jo yaeX. nuŋ˩ fu siɑŋ jy˥˧ biɛn˨˦ ʔy jiɛ˥˧. farming - man - mutually - to join - to rejoice - at - field and the farmers with each other rejoicing in the fields
憂者以喜。 ’juw tsyaeX yiX xiX. ʔiw tʃiɛ˥˧ ji˥˧ hi˥˧. worrying - one(s) - by (it) - to be joyful The worriers were rejoiced for it.
病者以愈。 bjaengH tsyaeX yiX yuX. biŋ˨˦ tʃiɛ˥˧ ji˥˧ jy˥˧. illness - one(s) - by (it) - to heal and the sick healed by it.
而吾亭適成。 nyi ngu deng syek dzyeng. ɻ˩ ŋu˩ tʱiŋ˩ ʃiʔ(k) tʃʱiŋ˩. and - my - kiosk - right then - to accomplish My kiosk happened to finish building at the same time,
於是舉酒於亭上。 ’jo dzyeX kjoX tsjuwX 'jo deng dzyangH. ʔy ʃʱiɨ'˨˦ ky˥˧ tsiw˥˧ ʔy tʱiŋ˩ ʃʱiɑŋ˨˦. at - such - to raise - alcohol - at - kiosk - upside thus I raised my cup standing at the kiosk
以屬客而告之。 yiX tsyowk khaek nyi kawH tsyi. ji˥˧ tʃyuʔ(k) kʰəʔ(k) ɻ˩ kaw˨˦ tʃiɨ. so as to - to address - guest(s) - and - to tell - then addressing the guests
hjwot jyuɛʔ(t)˩ to say saying
「五日不雨。 “nguX nyit pjuw hjuX. “ŋu˥˧ ʒiʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) jy˥˧. five - day - do not - to rain "Were there five days without rain,
可乎」 khaX hu” kʰɔ˥˧ ɦu˩” acceptable - (interrogative marker) would it be fine?".
hjwot jyuɛʔ(t)˩ to say They answered
「五日不雨。 “nguX nyit pjuw hjuX. “ŋu˥˧ ʒiʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) jy˥˧. five - day - do not - to rain "Were there five days without rain,
則無麥」 tsok mju meak” tsəʔ(k) vu˩ məʔ(k)˩” in that case then - none - wheat there would be no wheat."
「十日不雨。 “dzyip nyit pjuw hjuX. “ʃʱiʔ(p)˩ ʒiʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) jy˥˧. ten - day - do not - to rain "Were there ten days without rain,
可乎」 khaX hu” kʰɔ˥˧ ɦu˩” acceptable - (interrogative marker) would it be fine?".
hjwot jyuɛʔ(t)˩ to say They answered
「十日不雨。 “dzyip nyit pjuw hjuX. “ʃʱiʔ(p)˩ ʒiʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) jy˥˧. ten - day - do not - to rain "Were there ten days without rain,
則無禾」 tsok mju hwa” tsəʔ(k) vu˩ ɦwɔ˩” in that case then - none - rice plant there would be no rice."
無麥無禾。 mju meak mju hwa. vu˩ məʔ(k)˩ vu˩ ɦwɔ˩. none - wheat - none - rice plant Without wheat or rice
歲且薦饑。 sjwejH tshjaeX tsenH kj+j. sui˨˦ tsʰiɛ˥˧ tsiɛn˨˦ ki. year - will - to send forth - unripe grain but only unripe grains yield by the year,
獄訟繁興。 ngjowk zjowngH bjon xing. (ŋ)yuʔ(k)˩ sʱyuŋ˨˦ fʱan˩ hiŋ. crime - prosecution - to flourish - to be active there will be frequent conflicts brought to the court
而盜賊滋熾。 nyi dawH dzok tsi tsyhiH. ɻ˩ daw˨˦ dzəʔ(k)˩ tsɨ tʃʰiɨ˨˦. and - thieves - - to start to grow - to burn hot and crimes will thrive.
則吾與二三子雖欲優游以樂於此亭。 tsok ngu yoX nyijH sam tsiX swij yowk 'juw yuw yiX lak 'jo tshjeX deng. tsəʔ(k) ŋu˩ jy˥˧ ɻ˨˦ sam tsɨ˥˧ sui jyuʔ(k)˩ ʔiw jiw˩ ji˥˧ lɒʔ(k)˩ ʔy tsʰɨ˥˧ tʱiŋ˩. in that case then - I - with - two - three - sir - even though / even if - to want - to relax - - so as to - to enjoy oneself - at - this - kiosk In that case, even if you, my sirs, and I would like to enjoy leisure in this kiosk,
其可得邪。 gi khaX tok yae. kʱi˩ kʰɔ˥˧ təʔ(k) jiɛ˩. (subjunctive marker) - to be possible - to get - (interrogative marker) could we possibly attain it?
今天不遺斯民。 kim then pjuw ywij sje mjin. kim tʰiɛn puʔ(t) j(u)i˩ sɨ min˩. now - heaven - do not - to leave behind - this - commoner(s) Yet now Heaven has not abandoned this people
始旱而賜之以雨。 syiX hanX nyi sjeH tsyi yiX hjuX. ʃiɨ˥˧ ɦɑn'˨˦ ɻ˩ sɨ˨˦ tʃiɨ ji˥˧ jy˥˧. in the beginning - draught - and/but - to grant - them - with - rain and granted them rain despite the draught in the beginning,
使吾與二三子。 sriX ngu yoX nyijH sam tsiX. ʂɨ˥˧ ŋu˩ jy˥˧ ɻ˨˦ sam tsɨ˥˧. to let - me - with - two - three - sir making it for us
得相與優游而樂於此亭者。 tok sjang yoX 'juw yuw nyi lak 'jo tshjeX deng tsyaeX. təʔ(k) siɑŋ jy˥˧ ʔiw jiw˩ ɻ˩ lɒʔ(k)˩ ʔy tsʰɨ˥˧ tʱiŋ˩ tʃiɛ˥˧. to get to - mutually - to join - to relax - - and - to enjoy oneself - at - this - kiosk - (topic marker) possible to rejoice with leisure in this kiosk.
皆雨之賜也。 keaj hjuX tsyi sjeH yaeX. kiai jy˥˧ tʃiɨ sɨ˨˦ jiɛ˥˧. in all - rain - (genitive marker) - granting - (comment marker) All of such is the benefaction of the rain;
其又可忘邪。 gi hjuwH khaX mjang yae. kʱi˩ jiw˨˦ kʰɔ˥˧ vɑŋ˩ jiɛ˩. it - further more - to be allowed - to forget - (interrogative marker) Could we, after all these, forget it?
既以名亭。 kj+jH yiX mjieng deng. ki˨˦ ji˥˧ miŋ˩ tʱiŋ˩. To have done - by (it) - to name - kiosk After naming the kiosk after the rain,
又從而歌之。 hjuwH dzjowng nyi ka tsyi. jiw˨˦ tsʱyuŋ˩ ɻ˩ kɔ tʃiɨ. further more - to follow - and - to sing - it we proceeded to sing about it,
hjwot jyuɛʔ(t)˩ to say saying
「使天而雨珠。 “sriX then nyi hjuH tsyu. “ʂɨ˥˧ tʰiɛn ɻ˩ jy˨˦ tʃy. to let - heaven - and/but - to precipitate - pearl "Shall pearls fall from heaven,
寒者不得以爲襦。 han tsyaeX pjuw tok yiX hjwe nyu. ɦɑn˩ tʃiɛ˥˧ puʔ(t) təʔ(k) ji˥˧ ui˩ ʒy˩. coldness - one(s) - do not - to get to - by (it) - to make - short coat they will not provide those in cold to weave.
使天而雨玉。 sriX then nyi hjuH ngjowk. ʂɨ˥˧ tʰiɛn ɻ˩ jy˨˦ (ŋ)yuʔ(k)˩. to let - heaven - and/but - to precipitate - jade Shall jade fall from heaven,
飢者不得以爲粟。 kij tsyaeX pjuw tok yiX hjwe sjowk. ki tʃiɛ˥˧ puʔ(t) təʔ(k) ji˥˧ ui˩ syuʔ(k). hunger - one(s) - do not - to get to - by (it) - to make - millet they will not provide those of hunger to cook.
一雨三日。 ’jit hjuX sam nyit. ʔiʔ(t) jy˥˧ sam ʒiʔ(t). one - rain - three - day For a rainfall to last for three days,
伊誰之力。 ’jij dzywij tsyi lik. ʔi ʂʱui˩ tʃiɨ liʔ(k)˩. to thank to - who - (genitive marker) - force to whose work is it to thank?
民曰太守。 mjin hjwot thajH syuwH. min˩ jyuɛʔ(t)˩ tʰai˨˦ ʃiw˨˦. commoner - to say - ThajH - SyuwH The people say it is ThajH SyuwH (a type of officer)
太守不有。 thajH syuwH pjuw hjuwX. tʰai˨˦ ʃiw˨˦ puʔ(t) jiw˥˧. ThajH - SyuwH - do not - to hold possession ThajH SyuwH does not claim to own it.
歸之天子。 kjw+j tsyi then tsiX. kui tʃiɨ tʰiɛn tsɨ˥˧. To attribute - it - heaven - son Attributing it to the emperor (lit. Son of Heaven),
天子曰不然。 then tsiX hjwot pjuw nyen. tʰiɛn tsɨ˥˧ jyuɛʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) ʒiɛn˩. heaven - son - to say - not - so the emperor says no.
歸之造物。 kjw+j tsyi dzawX mjut. kui tʃiɨ dzaw'˨˦ vuʔ(t)˩. To attribute - it - making - things Attributing it to the Creator,
造物不自以爲功。 dzawX mjut pjuw dzijH yiX hjwe kuwng. dzaw'˨˦ vuʔ(t)˩ puʔ(t) dzɨ˨˦ ji˥˧ ui˩ kuŋ. making - things - do not - self - to consider (it) - to be as - achievement the Creator refuses to be the sole hero.
歸之太空。 kjw+j tsyi thajH khuwng. kui tʃiɨ tʰai˨˦ kʰuŋ. To attribute - it - supreme - emptiness Attributing it to the universe,
太空冥冥。 thajH khuwng meng meng. tʰai˨˦ kʰuŋ miŋ˩ miŋ˩. supreme - emptiness - dark and vast - the universe is dark and vast
不可得而名。 pjuw khaX tok nyi mjieng. puʔ(t) kʰɔ˥˧ təʔ(k) ɻ˩ miŋ˩. do not - can - to get to - and - to name with nothing confined by names.
吾以名吾亭」 ngu yiX mjieng ngu deng” ŋu˩ ji˥˧ miŋ˩ ŋu˩ tʱiŋ˩” I - by (it) - to name - my - kiosk I shall have it for the name of my kiosk."