Classical Chinese/Lesson 2

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Text[edit | edit source]

荀子 (Xunzi).

Vocab & Translation[edit | edit source]

  • 。- Human nature is evil, all that is good about human nature is man-made (i.e. not really human nature).
    • (ren2) - person, people
    • (zhī) - possessive particle similar to modern Chinese 的 (it roughly corresponds to English ending ´s), go to, it
    • (xìng) - nature
    • (è) - evil
    • (qí) - his/her/theirs
    • (shàn) - good
    • (zhě) - that which/those who/he who
    • (wěi) - man-made
    • (yě) - see grammar
  • ; - [The common person's nature,] following life and compassion, follows old disputes and ceases life, yet ignores the following of death. (Now it is human nature for one to be born with fondness of profit, following this leads to contention and strife arising while sense of modesty and yielding disappears.)
    • - now
    • - to have
    • - goodwill, fond
    • - profit
    • - thereupon
    • - to go along
    • - indeed, this
    • - ancient, hence
    • - dispute
    • - to covet by force
    • - life
    • - yet
    • - dismiss, modesty
    • - the permittance of, yielding
    • - death
    • - thereupon
  • ;- One is born with feelings of envy and hate, following these leads to banditry and theft arising while loyalty and trustworthiness disappears.
    • 疾 - sickness
    • 惡 - wickedness
    • 殘 - spoiled
    • 賊 - thieved of
    • 忠 - devotion, loyalty
    • 信 - belief, trust

Grammar Notes[edit | edit source]

English sentence of the type: A is B (A was B, etc.), where A and B are nouns, is rendered in Classical Chinese this way: AB也

Note that (yě) is a particle, not a verb like and English is. (Were it verb, it would have been placed between A and B).

Construction «AB也» is used if A is always B in any case. So, for example, you can say «I am a man» — «吾人也», but not «I'm a minister», because it´s something that can be taken from you.

In this case the verb 為 (wéi) is used, and it is a verb, not a particle (therefore it´s put between two nouns, line in English): A為B

For example, «吾為臣» — «I´m a minister».

Note that 為 (wéi) doesn´t change its forms like English verb does (am, is, are, be).