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(NPPLC) Chapter #9 - Mizi Xia Loses Favor


navaburo

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navaburo

This thread is for the discussion of chapter nine in A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese by Paul Rouzer.

Please keep in mind the ground rules posted in the first lesson's thread.

For general discussion and a schedule for the study group, please see the proposal thread.

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My Questions and Notes on the Reading:

  1. Putative Usage: This lesson introduces the so-called putative usage of SVs. It took me a while to realize that 賢之 should be translated "he (the lord) thought him (Mizi Xia) worthy", but at least we have the help of the pronoun 之. However, in the case of 彌子瑕食桃而甘, I am amazed how 甘 can stand on its own, with the object (桃) understood. I would have expected 甘之.
  2. 愛憎: How awesome is the phrase 愛憎之生變! It seems 愛憎 is a word that represents both love and hatred, like something transcending both emotions.
  3. Symbolism: Is there some symbolic significance to the half-eaten peach?
  4. :Rouzer claims that in the Modern language, when 果 is used to mean 'fruit' it is more commonly written with a grass radical on top. Seriously? I've never seen this character before, and I don't see it anywhere except in my most verbose dictionary. I was just surprised that he would make such an error... words such as 水果 are common enough that anyone who reads modern Chinese would quickly notice what written form is used. Now, maybe the usage is more of a regional thing, and that's where the author is getting it from.
  5. When the lord says 愛我而亡其口味, I translated this in the imperative. The result was somewhat humorous.
  6. I am tempted to nit-pick the English translation, but then I realize how hard it is to interpret this language! I hope that some of us will go on to discuss, interpret, and translate other texts once we get off the training wheels that the textbook translations provide.

---

Looking forward to hearing from the rest of the gang!

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alanalian

You cannot use ‘甘之’

The character ‘賢’ in ‘賢之’ is a verb, which means 'FIND somebody worthy'. The character ‘之’ defines 'him'.

But the word '甘' is an adjective. So there is no need to put a '之' after it.

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alanalian

从前弥子瑕在卫灵公前很得宠。卫国的法律,私自驾国君车子的要处以断足的酷刑。弥子瑕母亲病了,有人乘空隙连夜去告诉弥子瑕,弥子瑕假传命令驾着国君的车子出去了。国君听说了认为他很贤德,说:“好孝顺呀!为了母亲的原故,忘了他犯了断足的酷刑了。”另一天,(弥子瑕)同国君一起在桃园游玩,他吃到一个很甜的桃子,便把这个没吃完的桃子给了国君。国君说:“这是多么爱我呀!忘记了他已经吃过了(这个桃子),来给我吃。”等到弥子瑕年纪老了,宠爱淡薄了,得罪了国君,国君说:“这个人本来就曾经假传命令驾驶我的车子,后来又曾经给我吃剩下的桃子。”所以弥子瑕的行为,虽然与起初的行为没有改变,然而先前被赞美,后来却获罪,其中的原因是卫王的爱憎变化了呀。因此,受到国君宠爱的,那么他的智谋合乎国君的心意就更加亲密、更受宠爱;受到国君憎恶的,他的智谋不合乎国君的心意,就会获罪并被疏远。所以劝谏游说谈论国事的人,不可以不考察人主的爱憎然后再去游说。那龙作为一种动物,其温柔时可以亲近而且可以骑着它玩;然而它的喉部下有倒着长的鳞片有一尺左右,如果有人触犯了这鳞片,那么龙就会杀人。君主也有这样的逆鳞,游说者如果能不触犯君主那倒长的逆鳞,也算是善于进谏了。

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navaburo

@Alanalian:

Our textbook teaches that 賢 is an adjective (aka "stative verb") and is normally used in the pattern X賢 meaning "X is worthy". However it can be used as a verb in the so-called putative usage where X賢Y means "X finds Y worthy".

So, I figured that 甘 here was being used in the putative use also.

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Thanks for the translation, but it differs from our textbook's interpretation:

Original: 彌子瑕食桃而甘

Your Mandarin Translation: 他吃到一個很甜的桃子 (He ate a sweet peach.)

Rouzer's translation*: Mizi Xia ate a peach and found it sweet.

So, which interpretation of 甘 is correct?

(I think that Rouzer's translation makes more sense, because if the intention was to say that the peach was sweet, without implying that Mizi Xia thought it sweet, I feel like the original should have read 彌子瑕食甘桃.)

(*) Doing this from memory so it might not be word-for-word, but the interpretation is the same.

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alanalian

@navaburo

My translations are found in 百度百科, which is the biggest Chinese Encyclopedia, and I'm not sure if it is correct.

这只是我的推测(不一定准确):

我们可以看一下‘而’这个字,就是这一个字令到我们的解读有些不同

之,所以的属性应该和闻是一样的。

※争议点就来了,食桃而甘,这个‘甘’是修饰‘’还是修饰‘食桃这一个动作’呢?这就是我们对原文的理解的不同之处。

其实不用太在意这些细节,不同的人对细节有不同的解读,始终我们不是那个时代的人

PS. I'm surprised that a foreigner learns 文言文 so deeply. 加油!

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navaburo

@alanalian:

之,所以的属性应该和闻是一样的

我同意。英文的“and, or, but"這些字都有一樣的語法規律。For example, in English "and" must always link two phrases of the same type (屬性): "The boy ran and the girl played." (sentences), "The boy and the girl played." (nouns), "the boy played with the red and green ball." (adjectives), etc.. I would venture to guess that this is one of the laws of the so-called universal grammar.

其实不用太在意这些细节,不同的人对细节有不同的解读,始终我们不是那个时代的人

再一次同意。不同的解讀是古文學最有意思的部分!

Hopefully you will join in with us in later lessons as well. 加油!

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OneEye

I think these "細節" are very much worth paying attention to, at least if you want to really understand what you're reading.

PS. I'm surprised that a foreigner learns 文言文 so deeply. 加油!

For the record, being told this sort of thing gets really old. I couldn't imagine going up to my college English literature professor, whose native language was Gujarati, and telling her that I'm surprised that "a foreigner" has learned English so deeply. It would be very offensive.

I don't really see the difference between a non-native Chinese speaker learning 文言文 and a non-native English speaker reading Beowulf or Chaucer. I don't think the latter would raise many eyebrows, but for some reason Chinese speakers tend to go crazy about the former. And in fact, I'd bet that the percentage of high-level Chinese learners who study 文言文 is much higher than the percentage of high-level English learners who can read Middle English.

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alanalian
I think these "細節" are very much worth paying attention to, at least if you want to really understand what you're reading.

我不同意这一个说法。

本来语言就是多变性的,不同的人对文字会有不同的理解,不同的理解也造就了语言的多变性。如果要将自己对字眼上的理解强加于人,这显然是一种思想上的侵略。

在中国很多文学教授就是有这一种看法,引起社会上的哗然。

最好的例子就是:香港的HKDSE中文考核,试题文章的原作者去做这个考试的题目,结果发现原作者也不会做。这就是出题者强行将对文章的理解放在别人的身上,我不认为这是一个合适的做法。

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OneEye

First, discussion here should be in English, not in Chinese. See under "Etiquette" here.

Second, I don't think your post above makes any sense. Paying attention to the details of grammar and usage is not equivalent to adding your own meaning to the text. I don't see how you could possibly equate the two. The entire point of doing so is to understand what the author originally intended. In fact, not paying attention to these things is what leads to sloppy, incomplete understanding of the text.

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alanalian

I mean that if there are arguments in understanding the ‘细节’ , we don't need to find out for who is truly correct, as different people might have different opinions and , of course, we can never know what the author was thinking. And I am sorry for the misunderstanding that caused by my post.

其实不用太在意我们对细节理解上的差异, 因为不同的人对细节有不同的解读,始终我们不是那个时代的人。

This was what I meant, and now I'm apologizing for my unfriendly attitude.

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OneEye

I didn't find you unfriendly, just unaware. No harm in that. :D

I do still think that these details are very important, even fundamental, to being able to interpret these texts accurately, and understanding how different people interpret things is very helpful. I agree that in a larger sense it may not be important, but for someone who wants or needs to understand 文言文 as accurately as possible, it is. For instance, I'll be starting an MA in 國文 here in Taiwan this fall. Accurate understanding is essential. In fact, it's a fairly common practice among for many Taiwanese scholars to list a lot of differing interpretations of the same bit of text, then present their own analysis of the interpretations, state their own interpretation (whether it aligns with one of theirs or not), and then defend why they interpret it that way. Not that everyone needs to get into that much detail (very, very few have any use for that), but IMO it does help to read differing viewpoints in order to make your own decision about interpretation. And from what I've seen of this study group, I think these guys are aiming to really understand what's going on as much as possible, so this kind of discussion is good.

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  • 2 years later...
somethingfunny

I found this lesson very quick to get through, although the second exercise (Chinese to English) was a little disappointing in its repetitiveness.  The major problem I had was translating the text, particularly the last few lines.

 

弥子瑕之母疾,人闻,夜往告之。

 

I totally messed this up and thought the second 之 was referring to his mother and I couldn't understand why 弥子瑕, on hearing that his mother was ill, would then go and tell her.  I think if I had a stronger background in linguistics I would perhaps be more alert to this kind of thing, but hopefully its just an experience thing.

 

及弥子瑕色衰而爱弛

 

A similar problem again here.  I was shocked to find that 爱 was referring back to the love of the ruler mentioned in the first line!  (I'd toyed with translating it as "loved to go slack" for a while but I think Rouzer's probably right here.)

 

姑子瑕之行,未必变初也。前见贤,后获罪者,爱憎之生变也。

 

Major problems here.  The translation I tried myself was shocking, and I know largely follow Rouzer's interpretation but there are still a few peculiarities.  It seems odd to have a full stop after "Although Mizi Xia's actions, they did not necessarily change".  I feel that in English this would be totally unacceptable.  The second problem is 生 in that last phrase.  If Rouzer's translation is accurate, wouldn't it be sufficient to just have 爱憎之变也?

 

I'm starting to get worried about what going to happen when translations are not provided.  I made it through most of this text fairly easily but got the moral of the story completely wrong. 

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  • 1 year later...

Like you somethingfunny I found this lesson very quick. It was actually a relief after the last one! I think I have a pretty good grasp on the 也 and 者。。。也 structures, the usage of 之, and the general context of things. More often than I not I actually just feel like I'm reading modern 書面. Particularly with the 而's and the 未's etc.

 

Ok, so like last time, here's the translation I came up with after reading the text and the commentary:

 

Mizixia was loved by the prince of Wei. According to Wei's laws the punishment for stealing and riding the prince's chariot is to have your feet cut off. Mizixia's mum was sick. When people heard this they went to tell him. Mizixia, without authorisation, took the prince's chariot and rode off (to see his mum). When the prince heard this he praised Mizixia, saying "So filial! You'd even risk getting your feet cut off for your mother!" One day the prince was chilling in the fruit garden. Mizixia was eating a peach he found very sweet. Having not finished it all he offered it to the prince. The prince said "love me and forget about that peach's flavour!". Whne Mizixia lost his looks and the prince's love for him waned he started to seen as offensive in the prince's eyes. The prince said "You once under false pretenses took off in my chariot and moreover you once ate my leftover peaches! We can say that Mizxia's behaviour was the same as before. The fact that what was formerly virtuous but later a crime is all a part of the vicissitudes of love and hate.

 

The only parts of this story that I have some reservations about are:

賢之 - At first I was a bit confused by this, but as the original poster did, I came to see this a putative verb meaning "praised him"

生變 - While I feel like I may have got the moral of the story, I'm a bit hazy about this bit. Not only about it's meaning but how/whether it even needs to be translated into English. I feel like a literal translation might be "The changes that arise from love and hate"

 

Time to go check Rouzer's translation (looking forward to later chapters when I gotta work this out with you guys alone!)

 

Okay two mistakes I made:

 

愛我而望其口味 should be "He loves me and disregards the taste". Haha okay. I made the same mistake as the first poster reading this as a command. Still I think it's a legit translation to read this as a command given the prince's desire for Mizixia. The only reason I feel this is "wrong" is because Rouzer's interpretation fits the context better. I'll have to try and be more careful about these different interpretations.

 

又嘗食我以於桃 - this was just a mistake on my part. The 以 clearly indicates this sentence means "he fed me a leftover peach". I don't know why I read this as "eat my peaches" when there isn't even a 之 here!

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