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Fuller's ILC Chapters 9 (說苑) and 10 (新序)


somethingfunny

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somethingfunny
Hello and welcome to the first of (hopefully) eight threads covering the "intermediate texts" in section two of Michael Fuller's "An Introduction to Literary Chinese".  This is, in some ways, an extension of the threads covering Rouzer's NPPLC and the level here will start much higher than it did at the start of those.  Of course, don't feel you need to have read NPPLC, or have Fuller's book - all contributions are very welcome.  
 
I am going to post two chapters per thread, which might make things a little confusing.  I will not be worrying about translation but will invite people to comment on particular difficulties they had, and answers to questions provided by Fuller.  With respect to the latter, please make it clear which question you are referring to: 9Q1 would be Chapter 9 Question 1 and 10R3 would be Chapter 10 Review Question 3.  I'll try and take as much content out of the old Fuller thread and add it in here.
 
9 晉平公問於師曠(說苑)
 
晋平公问于师旷曰:“吾年七十,欲学,恐已暮矣。”
师旷曰:“何不秉烛乎?"
平公曰:“安有为人臣而戏其君乎?”
师旷曰:“盲臣安敢戏其君乎!臣闻之,少而好学,如日出之阳;壮而好学,如日中之光;老而好学,如炳烛之明。炳烛之明,孰与昧行乎?”
平公曰:“善哉!”。

 

Questions

  1. Why did Duke Ping think Shi Kuang was making fun of him?  What does Duke Ping mean by 暮?  How does Shi Kuang interpret it?
  2. Explain the comparisons that Shi Kuang makes in the poem.

Review

  1. Does 吾 modify 年, or is it a topic?  Discuss.
  2. Discuss the coordination of verbs in 欲學恐已暮.  Does the wording imply “and” or “but?”  What about 為人臣而戲其君?
  3. Is 與 used as a coverb here?

 

10 兩頭蛇(新序)

 

孫叔敖為嬰兒之時,出遊,見兩頭蛇,殺而埋之。歸而泣,其母問其故,叔敖對曰:「吾聞見兩頭之蛇者死,嚮者吾見之,恐去母而死也。」其母曰:「蛇今安在?」曰:「恐他人又見,殺而埋之矣。」其母曰:「吾聞有陰德者,天報之以福,汝不死也。」及長,為楚令尹,未治,而國人信其仁也。

 

Questions

  1. Why does Sun add the 又 in 恐他人又見?
  2. What is the function of the 也 in 汝不死也?
  3. What is the function of the 也 in 未治而國人信其仁也?

Review

  1. What is the relationship between the verbs in 出遊?  Explain.
  2. What is the relationship of 恐 to 他人又見之 in 恐他人又見之?
  3. Why does the coverb come after the main verb in the expression 報以福?
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somethingfunny

I realise now that the first text is in simplified characters, I'll try in future to provide them all in traditional so that it's consistent with the book.  Here are answers to the questions:

 

9Q1:  Duke Ping thinks Shi Kuang is making fun of him by making light of his quandary.  Duke Ping is lamenting the sun setting on his life and that it's now too late for him to pursue his desire to learn.  Shi Kuang makes a seemingly cheap remark to simply "light a candle" to solve the problem of the darkness setting in.  Duke Ping is speaking metaphorically and Shi Kuang interprets it - at first glance - literally.

 

9Q2:  Shi Kuang makes three comparisons:  (1) Studying when you are young is like the sunrise, (2) studying in the prime of your life is like the sun at noon, and (3) studying when you are old is like the brightness of a candle.

 

9R1:  No idea.  If 吾 is a topic, then it's like saying "Me - my age is 70".  Otherwise it could be "My age - 70".

 

9R2:  Again, don't really get this coordination business.  In 欲學恐已暮 it seems like a pretty solid "but", as in 想学但是已经太老了.  As for 為人臣而戲其君 I feel it could go either way - "to serve as a minister and/but make fun of your lord."

 

9R3: Don't know.

 

I'm not doing anything special for new year so I might be back in a bit to look at chapter 10.

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somethingfunny

The second of the texts:

 

10Q1:  Here 又 is acting much like we would in modern Chinese.  Sun has already seen the two-headed snake and he is worried that someone else will see it again.

 

10Q2:  Indicator of topic - comment structure.  Topic (汝 You) - Comment (不死 will not die).  I'm still unclear on the technicalities of this though.  Can I say this is noun predication?  You - belong to the class of people who will not die?

 

10Q3:  Here it is a sentence final particle.  Pulleyblank is helpful here (XXII 2b) which states that 也 is used in conjunction with 未 to indicate something that is not yet complete or changed in state.  Therefore, he's saying that although he has not yet assumed governance of the state, the people still believe in his 仁-ness.

 

10R1:  Not sure what this question is getting at.  I guess it could have been 出而游 making the relationship along the lines of "and".

 

10R2:  Dunno.  Coverb?  That's a lazy guess on my part.

 

10R3:  ...???

 

I'll leave this in the hands of anyone interested in replying.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for posting these. I remember reading part of Fuller's book many years ago. They're a lot more accessible than what's been posted in the Classical Chinese subforum in the past. Don't count on any real participation from me though.

 

A lot of your questions may be answered if you (re)read the beginning chapters including the intro. For example, the relationship of 恐 to 他人又見之 is that 他人又見之 is a noun phrase. You can say 恐他人之又見之 to make it clearer.

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somethingfunny

Thanks Hofmann.  I know I can go back through the introductory chapters (and I really should), but I'm wondering how useful this kind of information is going to be for me.  I mean, in future, when reading through a text, will I think to myself "ah, noun phrase, therefore it means this!" or is this kind of discussion reserved for linguists and people interested in the academic study of classical Chinese.  For me this is just a hobby, but if it's crucial to know about noun phrases to get through more advanced texts then I'm willing to learn it.

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