Tuesday, December 04, 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.


  1. Hello. I read the book and I have understood it for most of the part. However, I find the first sentence ironic in a certain way. In modern English terminology, "New Moon" in the strict sense is the invisible moon, the start of the lunar month. Thus, that would make the sentence "The new moon had just risen" a bit awkward since how can one know that the invisible moon is rising (because you can't see it) ? I suggest the key to this dilemma rises from the translation of the author of 初(초) into the word "just". It might be better I think to translate it as an indication of the 初(초) --> FIRST visible young moon or young crescent moon. There is a reference in naver about 초승달, the crescent moon (5th example sentence) : http://endic.naver.com/krenEntry.nhn?entryId=d9959a805f6d42cf8a158fa320f0d63a&query=%EC%B4%88%EC%8A%B9#

    The moon was a brightly shining crescent.
    초승달이 밝게 빛나고 있었다.

    Thus, probably, a more accurate and realistic translation of the 1st sentence would be : "The (young) crescent moon was rising."

  2. Arlan,

    I think the point the writer wanted to make was that it was very dark outside, causing any lanterns along the hallway to cast more distinct shadows. Even if you cannot see a new moon, it still rises.

    If the writer had meant crescent moon, I think he would have written 初月 instead of 新月. Also, if the writer had meant to say the moon cast the shadow, I think he would have written 滿月, since a "full moon" would cast a much more distinct shadow than a crescent moon. However, even a full moon does not cast much of a shadow.


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