Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mencius said what?


I recently came across a James Legge translation of a Mencius quote that I did not agree with. Here is the quote and translation:
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Legge’s Translation:
Mencius said, “That whereby the superior man is distinguished from other men is what he preserves in his heart – namely, benevolence and propriety.”
James Legge was a famous 19th century sinologist, who translated a number of classical Chinese works into English. One of the works he translated was “The Works of Mencius,” from which came the above quote. My problem with the translation is that it seems more of an interpretation than a translation.

I have learned that can mean “with,” “by,” “to take,” “to use,” “in order to,” and “because.” I also know that 所以...者 can be translated as "that by which." Also 以其 seems to be an abbreviation of 爲以其, which translates as "[is] by his." And the Naver dictionary translates 存心 as 마음속의 생각, which can be translated as "beliefs," so here is how I would translate the Mencius quote.
Mencius (孟子) said (): “That by which the superior man (君子所以) is different () from () others (人者) [is] by () his () [heart-felt] beliefs (心也). The superior man (君子) takes () benevolence () [and] stores () [it in] his heart (), [he] takes () propriety () [and] stores () [it in] his heart ().”
I have corrected mistakes in my original post.