Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

How to use 耳 as a particle


Hofmann

Recommended Posts

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

I mean 耳, in Classical Chinese. Here's an example.

水,無機化合物,天下之所繫命也。人所常言者,蓋其液態耳,然實有三態,曰氣、曰液、曰固(注︰此殆分也,實甚繁耳,固態下分為七;另亦有超臨界流體等)。大海之水,多有鹽耳,莫之能飲。

Link to post
Share on other sites
蓋其液態耳 = Cover the liquid and it flows like the ear

I really liked that :D

Anyway, in Classical Chinese 耳 was used as an auxiliary word meaning only, just (同于:而已,罢了) For example: 相当然耳 is now written as: 相当然而 and is now considered 书面语

Link to post
Share on other sites
HashiriKata
For example: 相当然耳 is now written as: 相当然而

Thank you leeyah, I was too quick to assume (想当然耳) that 耳 was a typo for 其. I will try not to do it again even if I think there's a typo in front of me!

:wink:

Link to post
Share on other sites

蓋其液態耳 'cover the liquid and it flows like the ear' is a wonderful translation but obviously a bit wide of the mark. 蓋 here means 'probably', 'generally', 'for the most part'. It is an occasional alternate character for 概. As has been written, 耳 is the classical particle for 'only' (there are others). The translation of that part of the sentence, should be something like: 'when people normally speak [of water], it is for the most part only in its liquid form, but in fact, it has three forms:...'.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Just to wrap this up: it is a contraction of 而已 (see this post for more contractions)

Pulleyblank calls it a "final phrasal particle", often followed by 矣, underlining its verbal force.

He has the following three examples:

言舉斯心加諸彼而已. It just means to take his mind and apply it to others and that's all. (Mencius)

直好世俗之樂耳. I only like the popular music of the present age. (Mencius)

子誠齊人也. 知管仲晏子而已矣. You truly are a man of Qi. You only know Guan Zhong and Yanzi. (Mencius)

p. 134.

Link to post
Share on other sites

耳 is definitely short for 而已 in this passage, but I think 蓋 is used to show a bit of surprise for a statement that the author disagrees with, like "how could it be!" 蓋 sets the tone of surprise and a coming correction, just like the above mentioned text.

蓋 and 耳 (or 而已) are often combined as sentence initial and final particles to show disagreement with something the author believes to be lacking.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I mean 耳, in Classical Chinese. Here's an example.

水,無機化合物,天下之所繫命也。人所常言者,蓋其液態耳,然實有三態,曰氣、曰液、曰固(注︰此殆分也,實甚繁耳,固態下分為七;另亦有超臨界流體等)。大海之水,多有鹽耳,莫之能飲。

I'm only a classical newbie but I'll have a go at translating this...just for fun:mrgreen:

"Water, an inorganic compound, is what links all life under heaven. What people normally talk about is probably only its liquid state, but in reality there are three states: gaseous, liquid and solid. (....) The water in the ocean is (simply) for the most part salty, and no one can drink it."

As for the 耳... I guess it's mostly explicable as 而已 (which literally means "...and stop")

The usage in the first instance seems fairly straightforward:

人所常言者,蓋其液態

and the meaning of 而已 would fit here (耳 being used to keep the 5-5 structure, maybe?). Although it seems a bit odd without a 也 at the end of the 2nd clause...can anyone comment on that?

The second 耳 seems a bit more tricky:

大海之水,多有鹽,莫之能飲。

Perhaps it just has a more emphatic meaning here, like 就是 in modern? Again, it seems to fill out the 4-4-4 pattern nicely.

In classical texts I think 耳 is pretty much always a fusion of 而已, but then in later periods (late Han and after) the meaning became a bit blurred.

The 蓋 gài i just took as meaning "probably".

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're certainly right in that Pulleyblank limits himself strictly to the Classical Period.

The 辭海 has the following entry (besides 而已):

表语气,用词“矣”。 and gives two Classical examples:

1. 吾無望焉耳 (大戴禮記:曾子立事) "I haven't seen that there!" (my own translation)

2. 女得人焉耳呼 (論語: 雍也) "Have you met good men there?" (James Legge's translation)

What do you think?

Link to post
Share on other sites
and the meaning of 而已 would fit here (耳 being used to keep the 5-5 structure, maybe?). Although it seems a bit odd without a 也 at the end of the 2nd clause...can anyone comment on that?

My gut feeling was that 耳 (as a particle) and 也 never appear together, which seems to be correct, judging from a quick glance over the Chinese Text Project database. Perhaps this is because 也, when used in sentence-final position, can also express a degree of certainty that is however diferent from that expressed by 耳. See for example:

子曰:“賜也,女以予為多學而識之者與?”對曰:“然,非與?”曰:“非也,予一以貫之。”

from the Analects. Using 耳 here instead of 也 would change the meaning of this sentence, and perhaps even render it unnatural, although I am of course in no position to comment on that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...