Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Fuller's ILC Chapters 11 (戰國策) and 12 (說苑)


Recommended Posts


Here are two more chapters from Fuller's "An Introduction to Literary Chinese" with related questions:


11 曾參殺人 (戰國策)





  1. Why might a persuader in the 戰國策 use this story?  What is its relevance to the art of governing?
  2. Is 逾牆逃走也 a good gloss?  Is it accurate?  Why would an annotator write such a comment?


  1. Is 與 a coverb or marker of coordination of nouns in the first line?
  2. Why does the author add the 也 to 尚織自若?
  3. What is the function of 以 in 夫以曾參之賢?
  4. If the 而 in the final line is a marker of coordination of verbs, what are the two verbs?


12 趙簡子問子貢 (說苑)


趙簡子問子貢曰,孔子爲人何如 。子貢對曰,賜不能識也。簡子不說曰,夫子事孔子數十年終業而去之。寡人問子子曰不能識,何也。子貢曰賜譬渴者之飲江海,知足而已。孔子猶江海也,賜則奚足以識之。簡子曰善哉子貢之言也。



  1. Do you think Zi Gong intended his initial reply to surprise Zhao Jian Zi?  Explain.
  2. Paraphrase Zi Gong’s explanation why he cannot know Confucius?



  1. What is the difference in meaning between 賜不能識 and 賜不能識也?
  2. Why is the 之 in 去之 a locative object?
  3. Why is 渴者之飲江海 an embedded sentence?
  4. What is the difference in meaning between 孔子猶江海 and 孔子猶江海也?
  5. What is the effect of the rhetorical inversion in 善哉子貢之言也?


I'll post a reply tomorrow with my answers to the questions, or - more likely - indicate which of the question I am unable to do!

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

  • New Members

This story says that we must neither listen to the rumor nor trust it. Most part of it is unreal. But with rumor flying in air, even his beloved mother will believe in it. 曾子 is a famous sage in ancient China. He can't be a murderer at all. I think the persuader is trying to show us even a sage could be affected by rumors. What about us? 

I think '逾牆逃走’ just shows that his mother believed in that rumor(曾子杀人) at that moment.

‘舆’ is a preposition. It means '跟' in simple Chinese.'有與曾子同名' means his name is same as 曾子's(跟曾子一样的名字). ’有‘ means ' there's'. 

‘也’ is a marker of declarative sentence here. 

'以' is a prepositon too. It means '凭借’ in simple Chinese. It means 'depends on 曾參之賢'.

In my opinion, ’而‘ is a conjunction here. I think it equals to 'but' or 'while'. 曾子 is a faithful honesty person. His mother loves him very much. She trusts her son. While more than three people spread the rumor that he was a murderer, even his mother was skeptical.

All above is my opinion. Hope it could be helpful.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Question 1: You need to read the passage that follows immediately to understand why:


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boctulus, hope you can get involved, the more the merrier.  Responses can be slow sometimes but as you can see there are always people keeping an eye on whats happening here.


Irisqu, welcome and thanks for your contribution, hope you can stick around and add more - don't forget there are two texts in this thread!


Thanks lips, it's always good to be reminded we are reading these excerpts in isolation and there is probably a critical piece of information just round the corner that we haven't yet seen.


Here are my answers for the first text:


11Q1:  Firstly, what is a persuader?  Secondly, I'm not sure what the final line "則慈母不能信也。信,猶保也。" means.  Is he saying that given Zengzi's status, his mothers trust and the fact that three different people mistook his identity then we should be able to forgive his mother for the way she acted?  


From the following line there lips it looks like the person telling the story is trying to use it to convince his ruler not to treat him like Zengzi's mother treated her loom?  That is, he's pleading for his ruler to trust him in the face of rumours...?


11Q2:  It seems that the point of this gloss is to add the character 逃 which I guess is to emphasise the fleeing aspect to his mother's actions.  I don't really feel this necessary as we've already seen her throw away her loom (投杼) and leap over the wall (逾牆) which are both surely the acts of someone in a hurry to flee.


11R1:  I see what you're saying Irisqu, but is it a coverb or a coordination of nouns?


11R2:  I'm not sure if I agree with you here Irisqu.  Like in the last chapters, could this not be an indication of continuing state, as in she is still continuing to do her weaving and has not yet completed it?


11R3:  I agree with you here, in my mind I always read it in this situation as "by means of"


11R4:  This is beyond me.


I also have a question about the gloss "名,字。族,姓"  This comes after he says this other person has the same name as Zengzi, but what do these four characters actually mean?


I'll be back later for chapter 12.

Link to post
Share on other sites

而三人疑之,則慈母不能信也。Three people suspect him, then his loving mother could not trust/save him.

11Q1: A persuader is someone sent to another country to lobby the ruler. In this case the persuader was sent by the king of Qin to lobby the king of Wei for an alliance. The persuader told the story to the king of Wei as a psychological ploy. (After the story he said)... "I don't have the virtue of Zeng, your majesty's trust of me is not as much as his mother's, and there are more than three people who doubt me, I'm afraid that you would lose your trust in me as well".

为臣之投杼 means lose faith in 臣 because of rumours.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so lets take the last line:




It seems like that this should mean "in spite of his 贤 and his mothers 信, because three people 疑'd him, it meant his mother lost her 信" but I can't really see how this could work.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not necessary to cut it so exact, the context gives a clear meaning: in spite of his 贤 and his mothers 信, because three people 疑'd him, his mother lost her 信" in him.

The persuader said this to the king of Wei to prompt the latter, as most would, to say that even with more than three people doubting the persuader, he (the king) would still trust the persuader. In fact this was what happened and the alliance was struck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, for question 11R3: 


What is the function of 以 in 夫以曾參之賢?


夫 here is just an introductory particle ("concerning...") so how would we translate 以?  I feel like taking it to mean "by means of" isn't helping me much here.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • New Members

Hi~ Sorry for late reply.

11Q1.  I think we do need to focus on what his mother acted. The important thing is the effect cuased by rumors.

11R1.  Behind '舆’, it should be a noun. May it's a marker of coordination of nouns.

11R2. Yes, I agree with you that it means she is still continuing to do her weaving. But I think the word '尚' indicates her continuation of the status of doing weaving, not '也’.

11R4.  ‘姓、名、字’ is relative to a person. '族‘ is relative to a family including many people that has the same blood relation.

For example, 曾参, 姓(given name)’曾‘, 名(first name)’参‘, 子 ’子舆‘ . Only his father,mother,teacher maybe the empire could call him '曾参’. Other people would call him '曾子舆‘. And we call him ‘曾子’ to show our respectful. Here '子(曾子)‘ in acient times is like 'Mr' used today.

Link to post
Share on other sites



It is difficult to interpret how the verb is used here. I'd suggest that 以 takes the objects for the verb 疑. The objects are 1) the virtue of Zeng and 2) the trust of his mother (with 與 functions as the connector). 而 then functions as 却. 


Mine translation would be:

Now it was due to just 3 people that Zeng's virtue was called into question and his mother's trust became uncertain. (literal translation would be "... that Zeng's virtue and his mother's trust are perplexed/confused"). 


Would be happy to hear your thoughts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So what about the 而?

而 is used here as a linking word to an opposing or different meaning/direction, like "however", "but", "yet", but less strong. 而 is used this way also in modern writing and conversation, much less strong and more subtle and polite than 不过, 但是, or 可.

Link to post
Share on other sites



I think I'm getting confused by the mixed punctuation with the gloss.  If I take it out, should it be:








If it's the first then we have no problem, it comes out as with (以) his virtue and his mothers belief but (而) three people doubted him, so then (则) his mother couldn't trust him.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, don't want to get too bogged down in the details (a little bogged down is fine) so I'm going to go ahead with my answers to Lesson 12:


12Q1:  Yes.  This is Ancient China.  Heck, this is China.  However, there is probably some additional information about Zi Gong which will tell us why he was being a little cheeky in his responses.


12Q2:  "I provide the metaphor of a thirsty man drinking from the rivers and seas, all he can know is when he has quenched his thirst.  Confucius is the rivers and seas.  How could I be sufficient to know him?"  He's saying that Confucius is the (pun intended) fountain of all knowledge.


12R1:  I'd really like an answer to this question.  I don't know.


12R2:  Not quite sure what this "locative object" means, but the 之 would be referring to the place where he 事'd Confucius.


12R3:  If we go back to lesson 8 (an introductory chapter, not discussed here) we'll see that an embedded sentence takes the form "topic  之 comment" and occurs when a sentence replaces a noun.  We should therefore expect there to be two verbs - the example provided by Fuller is 见之 (I saw it.) becoming 见剑之如水 (I saw the sword enter the water.)  However, the sentence 渴者之飲江海 only has one verb (饮).  Sure, 渴 is the verb, but it's turned into a noun phrase (?) by 者 - "the one who is thirsty".


12R4:  See 12R2.


12R5:  I'm guessing without the inversion it would be 子貢之言善哉也?  The inversion places emphasis on the 善哉?  It sounds better?  Don't know.  Also, I'm not sure what "rhetorical inversion" exactly means.

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.

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...