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An Introduction to Literary Chinese, Michael A. Fuller


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As far as the *-ed characters go, I misread the one character you gave. Indeed that's a character with only one pronunciation and thus my hypothesis is proven false.

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9. Page 51. 時雨降 This is the first sentence in exercise 1. What's the meaning of 時 here?

Again, context is key here (and also a dictionary). 時 has a number of adverbial and adjectival uses´. It looks like this is from a Mencius text, and 時 means "opportune" as in "(when) the opportune rain falls".

That makes sense. In fact, I've found that 時雨 appears as a two-character compound in many dictionaries. As for context, I'm trying to provide as much as the book itself does, but many of these phrases and short sentences appear detached from any context in the examples and exercises.

15. Pages 74-75 There is a long grammar note that attempts to explain the sentence 於物無不陷也. I find Fuller's explanation of the grammar a bit confusing, and I don't completely understand it. Since it is quite long, I won't reproduce it here, but I was wondering if anyone can point me to some other explanation of the grammar of this sentence.

You could start by attempting to translate the sentence and tell us what confuses you about it.

My difficulties are not related to the meaning, which is easy to figure out, but rather to the grammar. As Fuller himself says at the beginning of his long explanation: "It is clear what this phrase means: [...]. The question is how the phrase says this."

What confuses me is the initial 於物 and the 無不陷 bit. Fuller offers two explanations which he presents as two alternative approaches, but to me they are more like two complementary explanations for these two parts. He starts by saying that 於物 can be regarded as a topic, and in the second approach he mentions that 無不陷 can be regarded as if it were 無所不陷 (he mentions that "無不為 means 無所不爲", which would justify this sort of ellision). Armed with this idea of an ellided 所, the sentence makes more sense to me grammatically, but I find that "into something" a weird kind of topic. But maybe that's just because I have mostly seen nominal topics so far and I'm not used to such complex sentences.

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I think the elided 所 idea makes a lot of sense. How about 於物 in the sense of "in all the things" = "from all things". So this would still be some kind of topic, "from all things, there is nothing that is not pierced".

Some other occurrences of 於物:

(知北遊)

臣之年二十而好捶鉤,於物無視也,非鉤無察也。

When I was twenty, I was fond of forging swords. I looked at nothing else. I paid no attention to anything but swords.

(天下)

公而不當,易而無私,決然無主,趣物而不兩,不顧於慮,不謀於知,於物無擇,與之俱往,古之道術有在於是者。

Public-spirited, and with nothing of the partizan; easy and compliant, without any selfish partialities; capable of being led, without any positive tendencies; following in the wake of others, without any double mind; not looking round because of anxious thoughts; not scheming in the exercise of their wisdom; not choosing between parties, but going along with all - all such courses belonged to the Daoists of antiquity

(祭統)

不齊則於物無防也,嗜欲無止也。

While it was not attained, he did not take precautions against the influence of (outward) things, nor did he cease from all (internal) desires.

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Thanks for your reply, chrix. I initially thought that this sentence could be a little odd even in classical Chinese, but your examples reveal that 於物無 Verb (也) is actually quite a normal pattern then.

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This time you beat me to it, chrix :wink:

Near the end of the text there is the sentence "厚者為戮,薄者見疑". What do the expressions 厚者 and 薄者 mean? My guess is that it is something like "the less serious case" and "the more serious case"?

I assume I'm stating the obvious here, but just for future reference (since reading your question threw me off momentarily), 厚者 is the more serious of the two. By the way, I am slightly embarrassed to admit that while I'd read the Han Feizi text before, I had never realised 鄰人之父 was odd in this context...thanks Jose and chrix!

11. Page 64. In sentence 4 there is the phrase 從其所契者入水求之. I suppose the 者 can be added to any 所-phrase to make its nominalised use clear, but the text doesn't explain this. Can this 者 be omitted? Would it be possible to add this 者 to any of the example phrases used in the lesson, like 李子所往 or 我所食?

Adding 者 is generally never grammatically incorrect, though it might cause stylistic problems. It is generally only added when there is a bit of distance between 所 and 者, or where needed to prevent ambiguities. But as chrix says, this issue still needs to be researched more thoroughly.

盜所出(者)窗也

You probably already realised this, but this is one of the cases where using 者 changes the meaning of the sentence by ruling out a possible reading and thus preventing ambiguity, as explained above. I also agree with chrix that 於 would not be used here.

I don't understand why Fuller insisits on translating 莫 as "in no case".

What he means by "in no case" here can also be described as "there is no case in which", so what you would get in my literal translation is something along the lines of As to rabbits that crash into trees, there is no case in which they do not die from breaking their neck. Of course, this is horrible English, and in a translation this would not be accepted, but if you first establish the literal meaning, you can always decide to go with "none", "nothing" or "in no case" or any other negative you feel adequately describes this.

As to 於物無不陷也, I would agree that 於物 seems to be used as a topic, with 無不陷 missing a 所. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, you could also theorise about 無 carrying a meaning similar to 莫, in which the sentence would also be translated as "from all things, there is nothing that is not pierced". But this is merely a little theory I've come up with myself and I still have to do some research to see whether this is actually a valid interpretation in other cases where such structures are seen. Probably very hard to distinguish, because in all cases I can think of you could insert a 所, so it's going to be hard to determine which is true (or perhaps both are). Anyway, don't let my weird little thoughts get you confused :)

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I assume I'm stating the obvious here, but just for future reference (since reading your question threw me off momentarily), 厚者 is the more serious of the two.

Oops, you're right. I didn't realise the order of the translated expressions didn't match the corresponding Chinese phrases. I've edited my post and fixed it now.

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I am posting my questions for lessons 6 and 7 now. Thanks again for all the helpful comments from Daan and chrix.

Lesson 6

16. Page 80. The name 亞父 is transcribed as Yǎfù with 亞 in the third tone. All the Mainland dictionaries list 亞 as yà, while the Taiwanese 國語辭典 does show an alternative third-tone pronunciation, but it does not use it in any compound at all. My question: is this just an arbitrary, maybe unintended, choice of a rare pronunciation or is there some justification for the pronunciation Yǎfù to be preferred over the normal Yàfù?

Lesson 7

17. Page 89. This page contains a grammar section on the use of 也 at the end of verbal sentences. I am actually confused by the various ways in which this construction is presented. To muddle matters even more, Pulleyblank, who is cited by Fuller, sees 也 as a kind of aspect marker that contrasts with 矣. While Pulleyblank suggests that the nuances of 也 are not fully understood, Fuller seems to be more confident that it is just a matter of getting the hang of it. I initially thought that these constructions [verbal phrase]也 were semantically analogous to the way sentences are often started with "es que" in colloquial Spanish, so I thought the pattern was mainly explanatory in nature ("the thing is...", "it turns out that...", "what happens is..."). This would make such sentences relatively easy to understand, but as I progress I find that each appearance of 也 seems to be explained away in a different way. Sometimes it is explanatory, sometimes categorical, it can even mark a topic or, according to Pulleyblank, a proper name. And then there's the problem of parsing the sentence and deciding what part 也 actually modifies, which brings me to my question: on page 89, Fuller explains the sentence 以爲畏狐也 as if the 也 affects just the 畏狐:

What the tiger believed is a categorical statement, a general proposition : the animals fear the fox not just this one time but always, and such is simply the way things are.

Michael A. Fuller, An Introduction to Literary Chinese, p. 89

My question is: why can't this 也 apply to the whole 以爲 phrase? I would have thought that the 也 should apply to the bigger phrase ("the thing is, the tiger assumed that the animal feared the fox" was my first attempt at translation following Fuller's explanation for the Jié Zhòu sentence in lesson 1), but Fuller tells us that it is the fact of 畏狐 ("what the tiger believed") which is affected by 也. Why is that interpretation better than applying 也 to the whole phrase?

18. Page 92. Question 2 ("What type of object is 百獸 in (3)? Why?"). Sentence (3) is 天帝使我長百獸, and I don't see anything special in that 百獸. I would say that it is simply the direct object of the verb 長, which is part of a pivot construction, but since Fuller asks this question as an exercise, I suppose there is some difficult point that I am missing. Anyone knows what it is?

19. Page 92. Question 6 ("What phrase does the first 也 in (6) mark as nominal? What is its function?). Sentence (6) is 虎不知獸畏己而走也,以爲畏狐也, and this is my question 17 revisited. My first attempt at translation was "the thing is, the tiger didn't know that the animals were running away because they feared him", but that was when I was interpreting the second part as "and the matter was that he assumed that the animals feared the fox". After seeing that Fuller parses the second sentence as { 以爲 { { 畏獸 } 也 } } (see point 17 above), I would have to change my answer and parse the first part as { 虎不知 { { 獸畏己而走 } 也 } } ("the tiger didn't know the fact that the animals were running away because they feared him") but I still can't see why that option should be better than { { 虎不知{獸畏己而走 } } 也 }.

20. Page 92. Exercise 1 ("Translate"), first sentence: 從其父還家. I'm not sure about how to interpret 從 here. Is it "[He] returns home following his father" or "he returns home from his father's"?

21. Page 92. Exercise 1 ("Translate"), fourth sentence: 由其向所往路還家. He comes along the path that... I don't understand the word order in 向所往路.

22. Page 93. Exercise 2 ("Change the following from a 所 construction to a V-O sentence and translate the sentence. Example 所從還家者其父也 -> 從其父還家"), second sentence: 所與相樂者同心之人也. The transformation to V-O should be 與同心之人相樂, no problems here, but how is this translated? What is 相樂?

Edited by Jose
Fixed numbers in the list
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I only have time right now to address the issue about 亞父, both from a specific and a general perspective.

1. Did you look this up in a Classical Chinese dictionary? In my dictionaries, they have two readings, in the 3rd tone and the 1st tone, but the 1st tone is just used in an onomatopoetic sense. My Classical Chinese dictionaries are from the mainland, maybe Daan has one from Taiwan, and can check it as well.

Also, as far as the 國語辭典 is concerned, ya3 is marked as a 又音 of ya4, which usually indicates a reading pronunciation, and not a meaning difference.

2. As a matter of fact, I agree wholeheartedly with what Pulleyblank writes in his introduction about pronunciation of Classical Chinese. Tones are only attested for Middle Chinese, and it is quite probable before that Ancient Chinese didn't have any and had a number of suffixes instead. Together with prefixes that are refracted in aspirated-inaspirated alternations in Modern Mandarin (before that it might have been voiced-voiceless alternations) these most likely formed a system of affixes that were for the larger part not indicated in the script. Making these distinctions is important because it still partially reflects those affixes. But this does not mean that there is always total agreement about each character due to the nature of the Chinese writing system. So we have to live with a degree of uncertainty here.

Edited by chrix
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As far as the questions about 也 go, I would side with Pulleyblank and say the details still need to be worked out. I find this is such a complex (and confusing) topic, that at the least we should open a new thread just about the functions of 也 and discuss it there, it would go beyond the scope of the Fuller thread. Whaddaya think?

Lesson 7: Please tell us the source for the text, as in this case, this would be Zhanguoce, this is the second text discussed in the second lesson in Wang Li's textbook :mrgreen:

18. Page 92. Question 2 ("What type of object is 百獸 in (3)? Why?"). Sentence (3) is 天帝使我長百獸, and I don't see anything special in that 百獸. I would say that it is simply the direct object of the verb 長, which is part of a pivot construction, but since Fuller asks this question as an exercise, I suppose there is some difficult point that I am missing. Anyone knows what it is?

I think this is about the 長, which is a transitivised/causativised intransitive verb here. What's the term used by Fuller?

20. Page 92. Exercise 1 ("Translate"), first sentence: 從其父還家. I'm not sure about how to interpret 從 here. Is it "[He] returns home following his father" or "he returns home from his father's"?

I'd say the former. The way I see it, 從 can only mean "from" with nouns referring to places, and 其父 isn't. According to Pulleyblank, p.52, "follow" is only the more common meaning.

21. Page 92. Exercise 1 ("Translate"), fourth sentence: 由其向所往路還家. He comes along the path that... I don't understand the word order in 向所往路.

Could you tell us what the sentence is supposed to mean?

22. Page 93. Exercise 2 ("Change the following from a 所 construction to a V-O sentence and translate the sentence. Example 所從還家者其父也 -> 從其父還家"), second sentence: 所與相樂者同心之人也. The transformation to V-O should be 與同心之人相樂, no problems here, but how is this translated? What is 相樂?

Without any context I find this quite hard 與同心之人 could be "accompanying like-minded people", and 相樂 is quite tricky. Usually it means "like each other" but I think this might be out here. I guess it might mean something like "be joyous with each other"; there's a definition of 相 which might support this, compare also this quote from the Shijing:

乃如之人兮、逝不相好: Here is this man, Who will not be friendly with me.

So this whole thing could mean "(He) accompanied like-minded people making merry.

But this is really just a guess, maybe I'm overlooking something here...

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On #20, I would agree with chrix.

#21 reminds me of a famous line from the Peach Blossom Spring by Táo Qián 陶潛:

便扶向路,處處誌之。及郡下,詣太守,說如此。太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所誌,遂迷,不復得路。

I think Fuller would have been aiming at the same meaning in his sentence (that does not seem to have been used ever in the history of classical Chinese). Does reading this make things any clearer? You have to know that this is about a man who stumbles upon a utopian world in the middle of the woods, and then returns home, but wants to ensure he'll be able to find his way back to the other world should he so desire.

On #22, I would only dare hazard a guess that this would have meant "People with whom one can amuse himself have similar personalities", but honestly, that's a guess 而已. I've not used Fuller's textbook myself, but judging from some of the examples here, he likes transforming sentences to teach you grammar. While this might work for easier sentences, for more difficult sentences it could lead to a lot of confusion, especially where we have no written evidence that such constructions would have been acceptable to a writer trained in classical Chinese.

At the very least Fuller should have a source in which the transformed sentence (or a grammatically similar one) is used. This is merely an exercise in guessing how it might have been said without any evidence to prove that the resulting sentence would have been an acceptable construction in classical Chinese, so don't let it discourage you: Fuller, although obviously well-qualified to read classical Chinese, was of course never trained to write it. Take a look at 所從還家者其父也, for example. To me, that does not sound like very natural classical Chinese, although I should also point out I am by no means an expert and could be very wrong here. But on the whole, I suppose my message is: don't get too hung up on those exercises, and strive to understand the authentic texts fully instead :)

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丁酉祿山陷東京 On the Dīngyǒu day Ān Lùshān captured the Eastern Capital.

Might be the original, because ancient Chinese tend to be short and to the point.

祿山陷東京者丁酉也 It was on the Dīngyǒu day that Ān Lùshān captured the Eastern Capital.

Might be a later reconstruction by other writers.

祿山 = 安祿山 [see below]

陷東京者 = the person who caught the Eastern Capital. So called "東京" in the Tang dynasty = 洛陽, Luoyang.

丁酉也 = 丁酉日是也, where 日 of 丁酉日 in ancient Chinese calendarical calculations, is omitted for the "day". 丁酉日 is the 34th day of a 60 day cycle: Every 60 days = 1 cycle. This day cycle is no longer used in Modern Chinese calendarical calculations.

Appropriately should be: 安陷東京者丁酉也 meaning An Lushan caught the city of Luoyang on the 34th day of the 60 day cycle: February 5, 756.*

Usually when talking about a person's name and there's no other person with the same surname is included, then the last name is used for this one person, and not the personal name: 祿山 shouldn't be used, but rather his stepfather's last name of 安 which he adopted: 安祿山 wasn't Chinese but rather a person of Turkic origins. It was the Tang emperor's concubine "Yang Yuhuan" who adopted An to be her "son" and In this way, he gained command of the army & rivalry with her brother Yang Guozhong caused An to be "rebellious", and later made the emperor sacrifice her for the emperor's army or the army will die of starvation, etc...

An Lushan was later killed by his 2nd son, An Qingxu.**

*An_Lushan: As Emperor of Yan

**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Qingxu

由其向所往路還家

由 = From

其 = he, she, it.

所往路 = 所往之路 = the path or road that's being taken

還家 = 家回 = returning home

由其向所往路還家 = Towards the road he takes to go home. 由 might be omitted, when translating into English.

從其父還家.

= Going home with his father. Quoting Chrix, it's "[He] returns home following his father".

相樂

相 = each other

樂 = to be happy; with pleasure

相樂 therefore = "To be happy with each other"

Edited by trien27
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由其向所往路還家 = Towards the road that he took to go home.

I forgot about 向. When translating into English, 由 can be omitted.

Your English translation is a fragment, not a sentence. Daan's suggestion (not mine), "Following his father, he went home" would be a complete sentence.

About 由: this discussion is not just about translating the sentence into English, I think we all have an idea what Fuller wants to express with the sentence, but about piecing together how the Classical Chinese grammar works in this sentence. So from this perspective, we cannot just "omit" 由, we need to understand its function (and that of every other element) in the sentence.

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時雨降

時 = time, hour; could be short for 時節, a season where rain, hurricane, monsoons, etc.. also occur at the same time.

雨 = rain

時雨 = seasonal rain / monsoon / rainfall.

降 = to descend

時雨降 = falling of seasonal rain

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I finally pieced it together with poor Daan who had to skip his breakfast over this and now is en route to catch a bus :mrgreen:, so here's our tentative analysis of this sentence:

由 = to follow

其 = 3Sg

向: this word kept throwing me off, but the Classical Chinese dictionary has a definition that saved the day: "earlier, before; just" !

所往路 = 所往之路 = the road that was taken

還家 = go home

[由[其向所往]路], [還家] = Following the road that he just took, he went home.

the 向 and the missing 之 made this quite troublesome to understand....

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"因問於群臣,吾欲用兵", is the 群 a pluraliser that turns 臣 'minister' into 'the ministers'? Or does it have a more specific meaning?

群 = group; flock

臣 = The Emperor's subjects: Ministers, officials, etc... In other words, anyone who works for the Emperor and has to report to the Emperor in the palace.

群臣 = Those working under the Emperor [acting in unison for some cause, at times.]

Near the end of the text there is the sentence "厚者為戮,薄者見疑". What do the expressions 厚者 and 薄者 mean? My guess is that it is something like "the more serious case" and "the less serious case"? Is that right? Is this use of 厚 and 薄 common?

厚 = thick

薄 = thin

者 = 人 = person, people; the one who _______. Example: 醫者 = healer = The one who heals.

厚者 = 有厚道之人 = an honest & kind person; a decent individual.

薄者 = opposite of 厚者 = 無厚道之人 = a dishonest & unkind person; an indecent individual.

Edited by trien27
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厚 = thick

薄 = thin

者 = 人 = person, people; one who _______. Example: 醫者 = healer = one who heals.

厚者 = 有厚道之人 = an honest & kind person; a decent individual.

薄者 = opposite of 厚者 = 無厚道之人 = a dishonest & unkind person; an indecent individual.

No, in Classical Chinese 者 does NOT mean 人, but it is a general nominaliser, so it can refer to people, objects, abstract entities etc. In this context 厚者 and 薄者 refer to the "severe case" and the "less severe case", ultimately to people, as one was executed and the other merely suspected, but it does not have anything to do with honesty/dishonesty (as the text says, they both were truthful: 此二人說者皆當矣) . I've provided the actual Hanfeizi text for easy reference below.

昔者鄭武公欲伐胡,故先以其女妻胡君以娛其意。因問於群臣:“吾欲用兵,誰可伐者?”大夫關其思對曰:“胡可伐。”武公怒而戮之,曰:“胡,兄弟之國也,子言伐之何也?”胡君聞之,以鄭為親己,遂不備鄭,鄭人襲胡,取之。宋有富人,天雨牆壞,其子曰:“不築,必將有盜。”其鄰人之父亦云。暮而果大亡其財,其家甚智其子,而疑鄰人之父。此二人說者皆當矣,厚者為戮,薄者見疑,則非知之難也,處知則難也。故繞朝之言當矣,其為聖人於晉,而為戮於秦也。此不可不察。
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I see there's been a lot of activity during the weekend. Thanks for all the replies!

Did you look this up in a Classical Chinese dictionary?

I don't have a classical Chinese dictionary, so I'm using the modern Chinese dictionaries I have access to. Of the online dictionaries, I have found the 國語辭典 and Lin Yutang's Chinese-English dictionary useful.

Regarding the 亞 pronunciation I was simply curious as to whether the third tone could be some sort of conservative reading like say tuō for 他. Anyway, it seems clear that the normal modern pronunciation for 亞父 should be yàfù, with two fourth tones.

[...] we should open a new thread just about the functions of 也 and discuss it there, it would go beyond the scope of the Fuller thread. Whaddaya think?

That's a good idea. I'll try to group together my comments and questions about 也 based on my experience with the Fuller and Pulleyblank books. I can start the thread, or you can start it first and I'll join with my comments later.

Lesson 7: Please tell us the source for the text

It is indeed the story of the fox and the tiger from the 戰國策.

18. Page 92. Question 2 ("What type of object is 百獸 in (3)? Why?"). Sentence (3) is 天帝使我長百獸, and I don't see anything special in that 百獸. I would say that it is simply the direct object of the verb 長, which is part of a pivot construction, but since Fuller asks this question as an exercise, I suppose there is some difficult point that I am missing. Anyone knows what it is?

I think this is about the 長, which is a transitivised/causativised intransitive verb here. What's the term used by Fuller?

Fuller doesn't give a name to such shifts in lexical categories. In lesson 2 (p. 47) he mentions the flexibility of word classes in literary Chinese and the exercises contain several examples. The transitive use of verbs that are ordinarily intransitive is also mentioned in the introduction (p. 21), but he avoids any technical term. Anyway, the sentence is not problematic at all, and I don't think it's worth spending too much time guessing what Fuller had in mind when he wrote the exercises. Maybe he expects the student to point out that 百獸 is the direct object of a commonly intransitive verb converted into transitive, or maybe he just expects the observation that this noun phrase is the final part of a pivot construction.

21. Page 92. Exercise 1 ("Translate"), fourth sentence: 由其向所往路還家. He comes along the path that... I don't understand the word order in 向所往路.

Could you tell us what the sentence is supposed to mean?

The exercise is simply "Exercise 1. Translate. 1. 從其父還家 2. 與其弟還家 3. 自佛寺還家 4. 由其向所往路還家. 5. 為其弟不樂還家". As you see all the sentences consist of a main verbal phrase "[he] goes/went home" preceded by a coverbal expression that provides additional information. Sentence 4 is the only difficult one, and my attempt at translation was something like "[he] goes home from the path that he had gone towards" (my partial translation above was quick and sloppy, sorry), but the position of 向 doesn't make sense (and the meaning would be very weird). This is the lesson where coverbs including 由 are introduced, and I have now checked that Fuller actually glosses 由 as "to follow along" (p. 87), and not "from" as I was translating it, so I think the reader is expected to parse this as 由[difficult expression]還家 and translate it as "[he] goes home following along [difficult expression]". The exercises often use words that are not in the vocabulary lists, like 向 here. I assumed that this must be "towards", but I think you've found the key to the conundrum:

向: this word kept throwing me off, but the Classical Chinese dictionary has a definition that saved the day: "earlier, before; just" !

Is it possible that this is the same word that is usually written as 嚮? With this meaning the sentence now makes sense. You have parsed it as two coordinated sentences but I suppose it can alternatively be parsed as a coverbal construction with the same meaning.

#21 reminds me of a famous line from the Peach Blossom Spring by Táo Qián 陶潛:

便扶向路,處處誌之。及郡下,詣太守,說如此。太守即遣人隨其往,尋向所誌,遂迷,不復得路。

I think Fuller would have been aiming at the same meaning in his sentence (that does not seem to have been used ever in the history of classical Chinese). Does reading this make things any clearer?

Well, I don't understand the line well :oops:, so I will have to spend some time working on it, but thanks for providing me with new and interesting material :)

But on the whole, I suppose my message is: don't get too hung up on those exercises, and strive to understand the authentic texts fully instead

I agree with you that understanding the authentic texts is the important part of learning classical Chinese. The reason why I have decided to work through Fuller's book in a very intensive and thorough way is that by advancing through the pages of one textbook it is easy, at least for me, to find the motivation to keep on going, whereas reading real texts from many sources can be a daunting task. I think Fuller's book has a good selection of real texts and his treatment of grammar is very interesting, but many of his examples may be artificial because he presents transformation rules in the same way as we would learn the passive voice in a European language. This has the advantage that it shows classical Chinese as a language with well-defined grammar rules, but at the cost of introducing examples that may be artificial. This is only the case in the first lessons. As the book progresses, real texts take the centre stage and explanations become fewer. In my next post, I will address my comments and questions for lesson 8, which are all related to a real text from the Mencius. No more artificial phrases!

祿山 shouldn't be used, but rather his stepfather's last name of 安 which he adopted

I also thought it was strange to find 祿山 without the surname, but even though we haven't been able to find the source, 丁酉祿山陷東京 looks like a real sentence. Could it be that naming conventions were different at the time? Or it might also have to do with the fact that Ān Lùshān was of Turkic ethnicity and, as you rightly point out, didn't have a Chinese surname originally.

Edited by Jose
Fixed wrong character
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I don't have a classical Chinese dictionary, so I'm using the modern Chinese dictionaries I have access to. Of the online dictionaries, I have found the 國語辭典 and Lin Yutang's Chinese-English dictionary useful.

Then I can only advise you to get one, order one ASAP from China or wherever. I myself only got mine quite recently, and it's a whole world of a difference. Especially if you want to do a detailed analysis as you seem to be intent to do.

Is it possible that this is the same word that is usually written as 嚮? With this meaning the sentence now makes sense. You have parsed it as two coordinated sentences but I suppose it can alternatively be parsed as a coverbal construction with the same meaning.

According to my dictionaries, no. They both can have this meaning, though.

As far as Coverb vs. full verb, I think both is possible, and Daan wanted to dig up something on this issue. Let's see what he comes up with.

I also thought it was strange to find 祿山 without the surname, but even though we haven't been able to find the source, 丁酉祿山陷東京 looks like a real sentence. Could it be that naming conventions were different at the time? Or it might also have to do with the fact that Ān Lùshān was of Turkic ethnicity and, as you rightly point out, didn't have a Chinese surname originally.

Google knows the source

I agree with you that understanding the authentic texts is the important part of learning classical Chinese. The reason why I have decided to work through Fuller's book in a very intensive and thorough way is that by advancing through the pages of one textbook it is easy, at least for me, to find the motivation to keep on going, whereas reading real texts from many sources can be a daunting task. I think Fuller's book has a good selection of real texts and his treatment of grammar is very interesting, but many of his examples may be artificial because he presents transformation rules in the same way as we would learn the passive voice in a European language. This has the advantage that it shows classical Chinese as a language with well-defined grammar rules, but at the cost of introducing examples that may be artificial. This is only the case in the first lessons. As the book progresses, real texts take the centre stage and explanations become fewer. In my next post, I will address my comments and questions for lesson 8, which are all related to a real text from the Mencius. No more artificial phrases!

So let me reiterate my invitation to join the Wang Li study group. His textbook exclusively relies on authentic texts :mrgreen: And he doesn't neglect the grammar either, though admittedly less detailed than Fuller and other Westerners.

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Then I can only advise you to get one, order one ASAP from China or wherever. I myself only got mine quite recently, and it's a whole world of a difference. Especially if you want to do a detailed analysis as you seem to be intent to do.

Is there a particular one you would recommend? I know there's the 漢語大詞典,which is a big dictionary. I don't know of any others.

Is it possible that this is the same word that is usually written as 嚮? With this meaning the sentence now makes sense. You have parsed it as two coordinated sentences but I suppose it can alternatively be parsed as a coverbal construction with the same meaning.

According to my dictionaries, no. They both can have this meaning, though.

Unless 向 and 嚮 had different pronunciations in the past, I was thinking that this might be one of those cases where a character borrowed for its pronunciation was later clarified with an additional part. Like when old texts use 見 for 現 or 舍 for 捨.

Google knows the source

Oh, you found it. I had actually googled for it, but I think that was when I was writing the name with a wrong character (綠 for 祿) and that must be the reason why I couldn't find any results.

So let me reiterate my invitation to join the Wang Li study group.

I have downloaded the .pdf file. I will definitely start working on it. I like the fact that it is all in traditional characters, even though it is published in the Mainland.

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