Much (多) Talk (言) Has No (無) Value (益)
Someone (或) asked (問) Mo-tzu (墨子), saying (曰), “[Do] words (言), by means of (以) quantity (多), become (爲) precious (貴乎)?”
Mo-tzu (墨子) said (曰), “Frogs (蝦蟆) day (日) [and] night (夜) croak (鳴), yet (而) men (人) loathe (厭) them (之). [But when] the cock (雄鷄) crows once (一鳴), the whole world (天下) vibrates (振動). Speak (言) at (在) the proper (當) time (時), and nothing more (而已). What is the benefit of talking a lot (多言何益)?
1. 益 means “value” or “benefit,” as in the Korean word 이익(利益).
2. 曰 means “to say” or “to speak” and signals that quoted speech follows.
3. 乎 is a question marker, similar to “?.”
4. 雄鷄 means “male (雄) chicken (鷄). The character鷄 is the same character found in the Korean chicken dish 삼계탕 (蔘鷄湯).
5. 天下 literally means “under Heaven.”
6. 而已 literally means “and stops.” It is often used at the end of sentences to signal “and that’s all.”
7. 多言何益 literally means “much (多) talking (言) what (何) value (益).” The adverb precedes the verb in Chinese, so 多言 means “talk much.”