Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What does 爾其無忘乃父之志 mean?

In "Du's Handbook of Classical Chinese Grammar," the following Chinese sentence and English translation appear, minus the Korean pronunciation:
()()()()()()()()
“Do not forget your father’s ideals!”
The above sentence is an example sentence in an section of the Handbook that says 其 (기) can indicate the imperative when it "is placed directly before the verb and normally follows a noun or pronoun indicating the person or people being commanded." In other words, "Du's Handbook" is saying that 其 can be used simply as a marker or indicator of command sentences and, therefore, has no real translation except to tell you to think of the sentence as a command.

When I see something described as "a marker" or "indicator," I get suspicious. Do we really need a marker to tell us the above sentence is an imperative? I do not think so, so I want to suggest the following translation:
()()()()()()()()
"You () promise () not () to forget () your father’s wishes (乃父之志)."
My Korean dictionary says that one of the meanings of 其 (기) is "기약(期約)하다," which means "to pledge" or "to promise." Looking at the characters of 기약 (期約), I would guess that 其 (기) was sometimes used as an abbreviation of 期 (기), which also means "to promise." By translating the 其 (기) as "promise," the sentence still remains an imperative; the only real difference is that instead of calling 其 and "indicator" or "marker," it now has a real meaning.

By the way, 乃父 (내부) means "your father" and was how a father referred to himself when speaking to his children. The Korean equivalent would be "네 아비" or "이 아비." The 之 (지), of course, was the possessive marker changing "your father" into "your father's."

Monday, August 22, 2016

What does 通於此設者 mean?

In "Du's Handbook of Classical Chinese Grammar," the following sentence and translation appear, minus the Korean pronunciations:
()()()()(), ()()()()()()()()
“One who understands this theory would, I think, know how to rule the Empire.”
This sentence was an example sentence in a section of "Du's Handbook" that said "其 (기)" was sometimes used to indicate supposition, especially about the future. "Du's Handbook" seems to have translated it as "would, I think," a translation I can understand. However, how did the Handbook translate "於 (어)"? They seem to have omitted it. Therefore, I would like to suggest the following translation:
()()()()(), ()()()()()()()()
One who knows and follows this theory (通於此說者) probably () knows () that by which (所以) to rule () the empire (天下), yes or no ()?
According to my Korean dictionary, 於 (어) can be used not only as a preposition, but also with the meaning of the verb "따르다," which means "to follow." Since a preposition seems out of place in this context, I assumed 於 was being used with its meaning "to follow." Therefore, "通於此說者 (통어차설자)" literally translates as "know (通) [and] follow (於) this (此) theory (說) person (者)."

My Korean dictionary also says that one of the meanings of 爲 (위) is "다스리다," which means "to rule over."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What does 子以秦爲將救韓乎 mean?

In "Du's Handbook of Classical Chinese Grammar," the following Chinese sentence and English translation appear, but without the Korean pronunciations:
()()()()()()()()? ()()()?
“Do you think that Qín will save Hán or not?”
The above sentence appeared in a section describing the use of 其 (기) as a disjunctive "or," which means the "or not?" phrase would be a separate sentence from the first option. I wonder, however, how the possessive pronoun "其 (기)" came to mean or imply "or."

In the "Du's Handbook" translation, 以 (이) and 爲 (위) seem to have been translated together as "to think," but by paraphrasing it like that, I think a fairly important detail of the sentence is lost. Here is my more literal translation:
()()()()()()()()? ()()()?
[Do] you () see () Qín () as () going to () to save () Han (韓乎)? [Or as] their () not () [going to] (不乎)?
In my translation, the "see" really means "to think," but I used "see" so that I could translate 爲 (위) as "as." I could have translated 爲 as "is," but I used "as" so that I could later translate 其 (기) as the possessive pronoun it is. A possessive noun or pronoun is followed by a noun or noun phrase. The 其 here does not necessarily mean "or," but by its being a possessive pronoun, it implies that an "or as" should precede it when translating it in English.

I have written this post only to try to explain how the possessive pronoun 其 (기) came to mean "or" when it is used in the way it was used here. In reality, I will also be translating 其不乎 (기불호) as "or not?"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What does 知其必以賄死 mean?

In "Du's Handbook of Classical Chinese Grammar," the following Chinese sentence and English translation appear, minus the Korean pronunciation:
()()()()() ()()()() ()()()()()()
“When Shuyu was born, his mother looked at him and knew that he would certainly die as a result of venality.”
This is how I would translate it:
()()()()() ()()()() ()()()()()()
 “As for Shuyu’s birth (叔魚之生也), [when] his () mother () saw () him (), [she] knew () his () need () to use () bribery () [and] murder ().”
The sentence appeared in a section of "Du's Handbook" that said 其 (기) could be translated as "that he" when it was at the beginning of the object phrase after such verbs as 知 (지 - "to know"), 患 (환 - "to be upset"), 見 (견 - "to see"), 聽 (청 - "to allow"), and 恐 (공 - "to fear").

Though I have no problem with translating 其 as "that he," I chose to remain consistent and translate it as "his" since it seems to be just a stylistic preference. The problem I had with the translation was with how they translated 以賄死 (이회사), which was to translate 以 as "as a result of." I feel that if the writer had meant it to mean "as a result of," he would have written the sentence as follows:
[She] knew (知) that he (其) must (必) die (死) as a result of (以) bribery (賄).
If the writer had meant it as "Du's Handbook" translated it, why cause confusion by moving 以賄 (이회) to the front of the verb "die"? By doing so, it would not only separate the auxiliary verb "must" from the main verb "die," but it would also allow for the possibility that someone might read it as I have translated it. Also, unless we know that Shuyu (叔漁 - 숙어) was executed as a result of giving or accepting bribes, there would be nothing to support the translation in "Du's Handbook."

I have read the sentence in context and did not see anything to suggest that my translation would be wrong, so I think this might be a case of people simply accepting a translation from the past, a past when a word such as "venality" was more popular than "bribery."

Friday, August 19, 2016

What does 然而無有乎爾, 則亦無有乎爾 mean?

In "Du's Handbook of Classical Chinese Grammar," the following Chinese sentence and translation appear, minus the Korean pronunciation:
()()()()()(), ()()()()()()
“In these circumstances, if there is no one [to transmit the sage’s doctrines], than that is how it is.”
"Du's Handbook" explains that when the combination "乎爾 (호이)" appears at the end of clauses, it "emphasizes the affirmation," which I assume was translated with the phrase "that is how it is." However, though there may be cases when that explanation makes sense, it does not make sense in this sentence. Why, for example, was 乎爾 used twice? Why was the first instance not translated? And why is the translation so nebulous? Why not simply translate 乎爾 as "than (乎) you (爾)"? Here is my translation:
()()()()()(), ()()()()()()
“Therefore (), if () none () have more [advantage] () than () you (), then (), also (), none () have more [knowledge] () than () you ().
Considering how much the ancient Chinese seemed to enjoy wordplay, I think it would be naïve to assume that 無有乎爾 (무유호이) has the same meaning in both clauses.

First, 無 (무) is being used here as the subject pronoun "none." Second, both 於 (어) and 乎 (호) can mean "than" and are used to form comparative adjectives, which is how, I think, 乎 (호) was being used here. Third, 爾 (이), of course, means "you." So the only character left to translate is 有 (유).
.
If we are going to use "乎 (호) to help form a comparative adjective, then we will need an adjective. What I did was assume the first 有 (유) implied "有益 (유익)," which I translated as "to have (有) advantage (益)," and the second 有 (유) implied "有識 (유식), which I translated as "to have (有) knowledge (識). Of course, that means they could also be translated as the adjectives "advantageous" and "knowledgeable." 

Now, people may be wondering why I thought the first 有 (유) implied "advantageous" and the second 有 (유) implied "knowledgeable." The way I did that was to consider the context of the above sentence. The sentence comes from "Mencius," and here are the paragraphs that immediately preceded it:
()()(), ()(), ()()()(), ()()()()(). ()(), ()(), ()()()()(). ()(), ()()()()().
Mencius (孟子) said (), “From [the time of] () Yao () until (至於) Tang () [was] 500 (五百) and some (有餘) years (). In the case of () Yu () [and] Gao Yao (皐陶), [they] directly () saw () and () learned () it (). In the case of () Tang (), [he] directly () heard () and () learned () it ().”  
()()()()()(), ()()()()(). ()()(), ()(), ()()()()(). ()()(), ()()()()().
“From [the time of] () Tang () until (至於) King Wen (文王) [was] 500 (五百) and some (有餘) years (). In the case of () Yi Yin (伊尹) [and] Lai Zhu (萊朱), [they] directly () saw () and () learned () it ().” In the case of () King Wen (文王), [he] directly () heard () and () learned () it ().” 
()()()()()()(), ()()()()(). ()()()(), ()()(), ()()()()(), ()()(), ()()()()().
“From [the time of] () King Wen (文王) until (至於) Confucius (孔子) [was] 500 (五百) and some (有餘) years (). In the case of () Taigong Wang (太公望) [and] San Yisheng (散宜生), [they] directly () saw () and () learned () it (). In the case of () Confucius (孔子), [he] directly () heard () and () learned () it (). 
()()()()()()()(), ()()()(). ()()()(), ()()()()()(). ()()()()(), ()()()()(). ()()()()()(), ()()()()()().
From [the time of] () Confucius (孔子) and () afterward () until (至於) now () [has been] 100 () and some (有餘) years (). The time since () the life of the sage (聖人之世) is like () this (), so () [it] has not been () [that] long ago (). The nearness to () the sage’s (聖人之) home () is like () this (), so ()  [it] is very () [near]. “Therefore (), if () none () have more [advantage] () than () you (), then (), also (), none () have more [knowledge] () than () you ().
I think Mencius was telling his students that they had the advantage of being closer in time and space to the teachings of the sage they hoped to emulate.