Monday, December 03, 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?

()()()()(). ()()()(). ()()(). ()曰.() ()()(). ()() ()()()(). ()()(). ()()(). ()()()()(). ()()(). ()曰.() ()()()()()()()(). ()()()()()()(). ()()()().
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."


  1. This language is not clear , you can use another language like mandarin.

    learn Mandarin online

  2. If I remember correctly, this is from "A First Course in Literary Chinese, Vol. 1" by Harold Shadick, and is not an authentic classical text, but something he wrote himself. (I think the first five or so texts were written by the authors?) Is that right?

  3. After looking at the openlibrary PDF, it seems to be the exact same text as the Shadick!

  4. Hi, Kieran.

    The text comes from "Introduction to Literary Chinese," by J. Brandt, which was first printed in the 1920s. Harold Shadick's book was written in 1968, so Shadick didn't write it. Shadick may have gotten it from Brandt's book.

    I do not know the origin of the text, but since it is was probably written before the 1920s, it was written in the literary style of Classical Chinese.


    I am interested in the Classical style of literary Chinese, not the modern. The Classical style was used in China and Korea into the early 20th century.