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鄭人買履 - trying to figure out classical chinese


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I'd appreciate it if you can help me understand this han feizi text.

I read it in the 白話 verstion but I can't see the meaning in the classic form...





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Perhaps this will help -



(1) 且:將要

(2) 先自「度」其足:量。音ㄉㄨㄛˋ(duo4)。

(3) 坐:同「座」,指座位。

(4) 操:拿。

(5) 已得履:已經找到鞋子。

(6) 吾忘持「度」:鞋樣。音ㄉㄨˋ(du4)。

(A) 置:買(如置業=購買物業);履:鞋子。

(B) 吾忘持度:我忘記帶鞋樣了。

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Hello again,

I'm taking classical Chinese as a part of my degree in East Asian studies in the university.

I think that maybe at first it's a bit tricky to understand, but it seems to me that at one moment everything will just click...

I'm still waiting for the click, but it will come! so I say don't give up, it's such a mysterious language... and so beautiful... we would be lucky to understand it...

have a wonderful weekend


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how interesting! do you guys think that chinese is difficult?i have heard of this story when i was at middle school.

it is told :once upon a time,there was a man from a kingdom called zheng,he wanted to buy a pair of shoes for himself,so he measured his feet,wrote the size on a paper,and finally put the paper on his seat.when he arrived at the shop,he remembered that he had not brought the paper.he looked at the new shoes,said he left the measure at home.so he went back home to fetch the paper.but when he came back,the shop had been closed.as a result,he did not get his new shoes that day.

later,someone asked him why not try the shoes by his own feet.he just answered that he would rather believe the measure ,instead of himself.

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thank you!

luckily i managed to figure the story out yesterday. the fact that it's a challenge actually brings more energy to my studying.

Is it difficult? well... lots of signs! it's hard to remember... I guess that if I lived there and saw/heard the signs and words everywhere then the language would melt in me much better and much sooner.

plus, I used to study the traditional signs (繁体字) and now i realize i need to move to the 简体字 if i want to read anything that was written in recent times... :)

it's hard to leave the traditional signs though... I love them much more...

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now i realize i need to move to the 简体字 if i want to read anything that was written in recent times...

I doubt it very much.

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I read a lot of things in traditional characters everyday (novels, magazines, newspapers, websites, film/tv subtitles, papers in the office etc). I don't see the need of "moving" to simplified characters. That said, I have no problems with simplified characters.

I don't mean to encourage anyone to "stay". I just doubt one needs to move to simplified script in order to read things that were written in recent times.

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You just to learn one form well first (whether traditional or simplified). Learning the other form after that should be easy. For now, since you are used to reading traditional, you might want to concentrate on Hong Kong and Taiwan websites and published materials. Or you can use a simplified-to-traditional converter to read mainland materials.

See http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/8195-best-of-chinese-study-tools-studying-chinese-online-and-off#Converters

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"简体字" or "繁体字" is not a problem to most Chinese people, especially in reading.

But to foreign beginners, I guess they are probably quite different. It is a pity the Chinese culture encounters such barrier, but it is the truth we all have to face.

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I am the opposite of SkyLee. I learnt simplified chinese in school but I often read a lot of Hongkong and Taiwan novels in traditional form without difficulties. Of course I needed a transition period to get accustomed to it but it's not that hard. Reading is not hard but writing is. :P

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Good afternoon everyone,

I'm trying to understand the functions of 之 and 而.

Here are some phrases I didn't manage to translate...




It's hard for me to understand their functions when 之 isn't translated as 的 and when 而 isn't used to oppose something...

If anybody can explain it to me, I'd be very grateful :)

Thank you all!


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  • 6 months later...

My teacher provided some materials which list 之 as also being translatable as 'him, her, it', so 知之而不行 could mean, (using only a modern dictionary...), "Administer it, but do not travel there", not sure though. Would need to consult a proper classical dictionary.

去而之楚 might mean "... and go to the state of Chu", or "... but go to the state of Chu". Really not sure. I haven't studied a huge amount of classical.

Side note: I don't suppose there's a better dictionary than Matthews out there? Which uses Pinyin instead of Wade-Giles, and has a more logical ordering of characters? For example, by tone... Matthews is good, but I find it a bit of a pain to look up things, especially after using Pleco...

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"之"="的". "王道"=the way to be a king

The beginning of the way to be a king, is to make the people in the have no pity when they're living and die.


"谏"=give advice to king "去"=leave,"而"=and "之"=go to

仲尼give advice to king,king doesn't accept that, so 仲尼 leave him and go to 楚 kingdom.




"之"="了", no meaning,can be ignored. "行"=实践=practise

Only knowing it but no practising, makes you have good knowledge but still being puzzled.

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If I recall correctly:

之 can mean he/she/it; it often means 的; and sometimes it means 行.

而 basically puts two sentences together, and can mean 'but', 'and' or another word that fits well.

The easy part of Classical Chinese is that unlike Latin or ancient Greek, it doesn't have loads of tricky grammar to stumble over. The hard part is that each word in a sentence can have several meanings, and you have to figure out which one is meant in every case. It gets easier after practice.

Traditional characters are still used in all of Taiwan and Hong Kong, so you can get by just fine without simplified. But you do run the risk of missing out on a lot of good stuff, and it's not very hard to make the transition, so it's a good idea to learn both.

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A man of the state of Zheng wanted to buy a pair of shoes.









He measured his foot and put the measurement on a chair.






When he set out for the market he forgot to bring it along.







It was after he had found the pair he wanted that this occurred to him.I forgot the measurement, said he.






He went home to get it but when he returned the market had broken up and he did not get his shoes after all.




Why didn't you try on the shoes with your feet? He was asked.




I 'd rather trust the measurement than trust myself, said he.


The usage of 之:


1、grow. It's the source meaning of this character

如语焉而未之然。《礼记》 Speak, just like something grow up from the mouse.

2、go to




4、ome phrase:

之如、之往、之适:go to;

之官:take a post;

之国:go to the feod;


1、this, that

2、he, her, it, they, them

3、its, his, her, their


Auxiliary Word


2、used in attribute and headword to mean affiliation.


3、used in subject-predicate structure to cancel the independence of the sentence.


4、used in substantive and preposition.



Dictionary is a good friend for the learner to know the rule of the grammar and the Classic Chinese articles can advance them . Classice Chinese is not as difficult as someone think. They just have a little different on presentation but have the same essence.

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