Thursday, December 06, 2012

How do you translate 刻舟求劍 (각주구검)?



 

There is an old Chinese saying that literally translates as follows: "Notch (刻) the boat (舟) to find (求) the sword (劍). It is used to suggest foolishness.

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There was a man from the state of Cho who was crossing a river . His sword fell out of the boat into the water. He quickly made a mark on the boat and said, "This is where my sword fell." When the boat stopped moving, he went into the water to look for his sword at the place where he notched the boat. The boat had moved, but the sword had not. Is this not a foolish way to look for a sword?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Are you afraid of your shadow? (Lesson 2)

The following passage comes from LESSON TWO in the text "Introduction to Literary Chinese," by J. Brandt. If you click on the link, the lesson will explain the vocabulary and grammar of the passage.
 
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Man's Shadow  
The new moon had just risen. A boy was passing down a hallway when it seemed there was someone following behind him. The boy did not dare to look back. Hurriedly he entered (his house) (and) told (his) elder sister. His sister said, "It is the shadow of your body. When you stand before a lamp or go under the sun, there is always a shadow. How is it that you forgot it? The boy then understood.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Can birds foresee good and bad luck? (Lesson 1)

The following passage comes from LESSON ONE in the text "Introduction to Literary Chinese," by J. Brandt. If you click on the link, the lesson will explain the vocabulary and grammar of the passage. Why would anyone turn down a free lesson?
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There are crows gathered in a garden tree. They stretch out their necks and caw. When a child hoots at them, his father asks, "How are they harmful?"  
The child says, "I have always heard people say that if a magpie cries, it is a good omen, but if a crow cries, it is a bad omen. Now those that are crying are crows. Therefore, I hoot at them."  
The father says, "Man's knowledge and experience are much higher than that of birds. Still, he cannot foresee good and bad luck, much less can birds."