Harmonious Emptiness

How to learn to read Classical Chinese

100 posts in this topic

I understand it is no easy task, especially not even knowing contemporary Chinese.

 

However, I would like to get started somehow. At least, find out how to interpret some radicals/characters so that when I read a translation with the Chinese next to it I can understand how they arrived at the words.

 

I speak English and enough French to have some familiarity with detaching my grammatical preconceptions. I know this is hardly worth a dime, but hopefully more useful than not.

 

Any suggestions? Maybe free online resources?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You need to learn at least three to four thousand characters in order to read a Chinese newspaper. You might want to start learning the characters. My advice to you is that you must have an open mind and looking at things objectively. I know westerners do have a tendency to put their own cultural thinking into the eastern thinking with lots of erroneous notion.

 

If you learn the characters by radicals, you are only learning how the characters were derived and their individual meaning. However, the meaning of the actual character might have been changed in context in a sentence or phrase. I have communicated with some westerner online which they do know the meanings of the characters; but they just cannot change their mind that the character means something in context and made an incorrect interpretation.

 

If you are really interested in learning the characters, I am glad to give you some help with each individual character.... ;)

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the offer CD!

 

Right now I'm just trying to get some grasp on 1 to 6 stroke characters.

 

Is there a common way to write characters with a ballpoint pen that shows the slight twists at the end, like in one and two?

 

I'm seeing how chill one needs to be to write them properly. I guess the up and down and left and right strokes are always supposed to be a certain way too right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

H.E.

 

You welcome. Basically, in general, the lines are straight lines to form the characters(一, 二). One can write it any way as long as the form of the character is recognizable. Writing with a ball point pen with a certain style depends on the penmanship of each individual. As a beginner, first is to learn the basic form of the characters. The penmanship is from practicing writing the characters. Eventually, you will have your own style for each character... ;)

1 person thanks this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

If you are really interested in learning the characters, I am glad to give you some help with each individual character.... wink.gif

 

Hi Chi Dragon, I would like to learn. Is it possible to paste chinese characters in this post?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Chi Dragon, I would like to learn. Is it possible to paste chinese characters in this post?

Hi, yi ming...

 

Yes, I can type or paste any character on this post.

 

Please let me know what subject or interest that you would like to related the characters to. I think it is more interesting to start with the characters that are connected to something that you are fond of.

 

Let's start with your nickname here.

Yi Ming can be written as:

意明: Understand the actual meaning or

易明: Easy to understand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, yi ming...

 

Yes, I can type or paste any character on this post.

 

Please let me know what subject or interest that you would like to related the characters to. I think it is more interesting to start with the characters that are connected to something that you are fond of.

 

Let's start with your nickname here.

Yi Ming can be written as:

意明: Understand the actual meaning or

易明: Easy to understand.

 

I don't see any characters. I couldn't paste any character in my post.

Why don't you paste Chapter 1 Chinese characters and I will ask you to give meanings to the characters

I don't understand. Ok?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest learning chinese characters in context, you'll understand why once you learned the first 500 characters.

There are many textbooks for chinese language students, it's a great place to start.

Learning by yourself will make the progress very difficult, you should consider making a chinese paypal friend, most of them are interested in exercising their English, so you can help each other.

Also, you should consider investing up to 10 years for a good level. Can work out in lesser time, for that you'd have to look for a way to go to China someday, it's an invaluable experience for learning, especially spoken chinese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest learning chinese characters in context, you'll understand why once you learned the first 500 characters.

There are many textbooks for chinese language students, it's a great place to start.

Learning by yourself will make the progress very difficult, you should consider making a chinese paypal friend, most of them are interested in exercising their English, so you can help each other.

Also, you should consider investing up to 10 years for a good level. Can work out in lesser time, for that you'd have to look for a way to go to China someday, it's an invaluable experience for learning, especially spoken chinese.

 

I am not totally illiterate. I am a Cantonese. I grew up watching cantonese movies. I just need some help with certain characters. I know the meaning of tao which is "do" in Bruce Lee's Juet Kun Do. It's the way. Being a Chinese, I am already half way to understanding the language. All I need is another Chinese guy to explain what a certain character means. No other guy can do this. You know what I mean? A white guy - even a learned Jesuit - won't cut it. Sorry. I hope Chi Dragon is a Chinaman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see any characters. I couldn't paste any character in my post.

Why don't you paste Chapter 1 Chinese characters and I will ask you to give meanings to the characters

I don't understand. Ok?

Hi, yi ming...

 

Yes, I can type or paste any character on this post.

 

Please let me know what subject or interest that you would like to related the characters to. I think it is more interesting to start with the characters that are connected to something that you are fond of.

 

Let's start with your nickname here.

Yi Ming can be written as:

意明: Understand the actual meaning or

易明: Easy to understand.

 

I can see your Chinese characters now. I wasn't able to see them before.

 

So, please paste Chapter 1 in Chinese characters and I will pick the ones I don't know and need your clarification.

By the way, I get your explanation on 易 which means easy or "no sweat" to getting it. I don't get 意明. So, what do you mean by 意? Can you use it for easy to eat or easy to kill?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see any characters. I couldn't paste any character in my post.

Why don't you paste Chapter 1 Chinese characters and I will ask you to give meanings to the characters

I don't understand. Ok?

 

Yiming...

I am a Cantonese also, a real Chinaman.... :D

 

 

Anyway, the reason you cannot post any Chinese character is becuse you have not set up the language feature in your windows. I am assuming that you are using Microsoft Windows 7. BTW I am using the Windows Vista Home Premium.

 

You need to go into the Control Panel under the "Region amd Language"

To select "keyboards and Languages" to "Change keyboard" then add

Chinese(Traditional, Taiwan) then add

The input method for the characters.

 

After you have done the Chinese language setup, then we can go from there, OK....???

1 person thanks this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see your Chinese characters now. I wasn't able to see them before.

 

I don't get 意明. So, what do you mean by 意? Can you use it for easy to eat or easy to kill?

 

1. 意(yi) when combined with 明(ming); then 意 is "meaning".

So, to understand a character, then you must understand its 意(meaning).

 

2. Can you use it for easy to eat or easy to kill?

Were you referring to 易...???

Yes, in that case, you may use it for easy to eat or easy to kill.

Edited by ChiDragon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, please paste Chapter 1 in Chinese characters and I will pick the ones I don't know and need your clarification.

 

Chapter 1

1. 道可道,非常道。

2. 名可名,非常名。

3. 無,名天地之始。

4. 有,名萬物之母。

5. 故常無,欲以觀其妙。

6. 常有,欲以觀其徼。

7. 此兩者同出而異名,

8. 同謂之玄。玄之又玄,

9. 眾妙之門。

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. 意(yi) when combined with 明(ming); then 意 is "meaning".

So, to understand a character, then you must understand its 意(meaning).

 

2. Can you use it for easy to eat or easy to kill?

Were you referring to 易...???

Yes, in that case, you may use it for easy to eat or easy to kill.

 

I am using Windows XP and can't get chinese script in the control panel as you directed. I could see your characters when using another computer. Anyway, let's try romanized chinese words in mandarin. Here goes:

 

In Chapter 1 the last three lines are "Tung wei che su-en, su-en che yew su-en, choong meow che men" something like that.

 

Can you give meanings of the underlined "characters"? What do you mean by "tung"? what do you mean by "wei" and "su-en" and "choong" and "meow"? Explain to me as though you are doing it in cantonese. It's unfortunate that my language teacher could only read out the Tao passages in mandarin. In cantonese, I would get it because I watched so many Wong Fei Hoong kungfu movies.

 

 

 

Let's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Windows XP will not let you display the characters.

 

同謂之玄。

玄之又玄,

眾妙之門。

 

同(tung): the same; alike; similar

謂(wei): to call; to say;

同謂: said to be the same; also said to be alike

 

眾(choong): all; more than one;

 

妙(meow): this character was used to express a kind of feeling that is when you see something wonderful, strange, mysterious, unfathomable. However, in the classic text, it means changes.

 

同謂之玄。

They are said to be mysterious.

 

玄之又玄,

Mysterious and even more mysterious,

 

眾妙之門。

The gate of all changes.

Edited by ChiDragon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sifu Chi, thanks for explanations.

 

You did not explain "su-en".

Does this refer to it? " 同謂: said to be the same; also said to be alike "

 

Is the following your own interpretation of the last 3 lines?

同謂之玄。

They are said to be mysterious.

 

玄之又玄,

Mysterious and even more mysterious,

 

眾妙之門。

The gate of all changes.

 

 

What is your understanding of Chapter 1? Do you have your own interpretation?

Please post it here for me to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yiming....

You welcome.

Thank you for your highest respect by calling me sifu. We are all equal here, please just address me as CD.... :)

 

玄 normally has the similar meaning as 妙(meow).

 

玄妙; they were normally used as compound characters.

 

玄妙(meow): the compound characters were often used to express something that is strange, mysterious, unfathomable, profound, or abstruse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your understanding of Chapter 1? Do you have your own interpretation?

Please post it here for me to see.

 

Here is my translation of chapter 1 based on the interpretation of the native knowledgeable scholars.

 

Chapter 1

1. 道可道,非常道。

2. 名可名,非常名。

3. 無,名天地之始。

4. 有,名萬物之母。

5. 故常無,欲以觀其妙。

6. 常有,欲以觀其徼。

7. 此兩者同出而異名,

8. 同謂之玄。玄之又玄,

9. 眾妙之門。

 

Chapter 1

1. Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.

2. A name that can be named is not an eternal name.

 

3. Invisible was the name given to Tao at the origin of heaven and earth.

4. Visible was the name given to Tao as the mother of all things.

 

5. Hence, when Tao is always invisible, one would grok its quale.

6. When Tao is always visible, one would observe its boundary.

 

7. These two come from one origin but differ in name,

8. Both are regarded as unfathomable; the most occult and profound;

9. The gate of all changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sifu Chi, thanks for a quick response. I have switched to my notebook with Windows Vista for this conversation. It is much better to be able to see the charcters.

 

So, you don't have your own interpretation? By native knowledgeable scholars, do you mean Taiwanese guys? Are you from Taiwan? But you said you are cantonese. Cantonese are from Hong Kong.

 

I have to do some errands but will be back to continue with this. Before I go, I am posting Chapter 1 below as read by my mandarin teacher. I was stunned to see the difference in her meaning from your Chapter 1 based on the punctuation (line 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) alone!

 

Chapter 1

1. 道可道,非常道。

2. 名可名,非常名。

3. 無名, 天地之始。

4. 有名, 萬物之母。

5. 故常無 欲, 以觀其妙。

6. 常有欲, 以觀其徼。

7. 此兩者, 同出而異名,

8. 同謂之玄。玄之又玄,

9. 眾妙之門。

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In cantonese, I would get it because I watched so many Wong Fei Hoong kungfu movies.

 

LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, you don't have your own interpretation? By native knowledgeable scholars, do you mean Taiwanese guys? Are you from Taiwan? But you said you are cantonese. Cantonese are from Hong Kong.

 

Well, this is my translation and interpretation by reading the books written in Chinese by knowledgeable native scholars. I am Cantonese from Hong Kong but living in the USA right now.

 

BTW The best books for the interpretation of the TTC was written by 陳鼓應. He was a professor in Taiwan University. He was traveling around the world to do he research by collecting materials from scholars in the past and present to make the best out of his interpretation.

 

I do my translation based on his book and used the others as references for comparing notes.

 

 

PS....

I will wait for you to give your comments on your version of Chapter 1.

Edited by ChiDragon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, this is my translation and interpretation by reading the books written in Chinese by knowledgeable native scholars. I am Cantonese from Hong Kong but living in the USA right now.

 

BTW The best books for the interpretation of the TTC was written by 陳鼓應. He was a professor in Taiwan University. He was traveling around the world to do he research by collecting materials from scholars in the past and present to make the best out of his interpretation.

 

I do my translation based on his book and used the others as references for comparing notes.

 

 

PS....

I will wait for you to give your comments on your version of Chapter 1.

 

Wah! You wait for my comments? Sounds like a gunfight about to begin; better still, a swordfight like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTsKEgUJyUQ

 

Ok, here is my interpretation of Chapter 1 followed by my comments:

1

 

It seems like the way

It’s so much like the way

It seems like the form

It’s so much like the form.

 

Out of nothingness arises the awareness of things.

And out of awareness arises the forms of all things.

 

Awakened, nothing stirs.

Entranced, all things arise.

 

Yet, all things come from nothing.

And nothing is everything.

 

Wonderment. It’s truly wonderment!

 

To be awed is to be open to learning.

This chapter appeals to our love of mystery and mysticism. It piques our curiosity and draws us into the realm of the unknown and the unknowable.

Life as we understand it is a story we made up about what we are, and where we are, in time and space. It seems that we are human beings living on planet Earth that is spinning around the Sun. We call this objective reality. In this realm of existence, we live out our lives as people with other people we know, the possessions we have, the fears we harbor and the things we crave. Yet, we struggle to escape from it all through religion, through science, through philosophy and through art.

What are we? How come there is a “me”? It is strange that no one has really figured this out.

The dissembling of our existential prison, the facts of life, the structure of our being, is a process of inquiry. It is the examination of the known, which is everything in life that we accept as irrefutably authentic.

We know the things we perceive with our senses just as we comprehend the word on the written page. This is because we have learned to recognize the meaning of the code. Otherwise, there would be no objective reality as we understand it; and, similarly, no language but meaningless squiggles or utterances.

Thus, there are no manifestations without learned comprehension. Therefore, to know the facts about life is not to know the truth about anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites