18 June 2018

An Exercise in Literary Chinese - Part 4

Alright, I was initially planning to end this series with the 4th part, but it looks like it'll be a 5-parter. For this part, I'll quickly wrap up translating the remainder of the story. By now, I've covered most of the main grammatical rules we need to know so I'll be covering the sentences much more quickly.

The concluding part 5 coming later this week should be much more interesting as I turn away from the grammar-lessons and comment on the intersection of diplomacy and war in history in order to appreciate this story.

*For any nerds interested in learning more about literary Chinese, or are planning to major in that area, there are a lot of readily available resources to be found on the internet. You can very easily find pdfs or ppts put up by university professors as part of their classes on google. I will upload a zip file containing 5 helpful textbooks that I'm slowly working through myself.

Download:
Literary Chinese text/workbooks:   Mega

Immediately, you should see that the first two sentences in the above image are almost the exact same sentences we covered in Part 2 and the beginning of Part 3. The only difference is that Yan Lu, rather than going East to borrow aid, is this time going to 解之, meaning "solve it." Please do remember in both sentences, the particl之 is being simply used as a pronoun for "it/this." The third sentence in the above image starts out identically to what we've seen before, until we get to his quote 周賴大國之義,得君臣父子相保也. Here, the comma that has been placed by modern editors makes it clear how the AB也 structure works on this sentence. That is to say, A is everything before the comma, and B is everything afterwards. Translating A is self explanatory, but just remember that this time, 之 is not used as a pronoun, but a posessive marker. A slightly tricky part to translating B is that if you recall, syntax in literary Chinese is almost the same as in English: [subject][transitive verb][direct object]. However, we see in B that the direct objects (君臣父子) are preceding the transitive verb 保 (to protect). The regular syntax is inverted typically to call upon attention. For instance in English, compare "I ate the apple" vs "It is the apple I ate." We see that by placing the apple first in the latter sentence, we emphasize it over the subject or the action. Same thing here. Yan Lu is emphasizing what has been protected over all else. Thus, this whole page can be translated as: Qi then requested for the Nine-ding, and the Zhou king was again worried [about it]. Yan Lu said, "Please do not worry, great king. Allow me to head East and I will solve the predicament." Yan Lu reached Qi and said to the Qi King, "By depending on the justice of a great state, Zhou has been able to protect its sovereign & retainers, fathers & sons."
Moving on... The last part of this first sentence (何塗之從) may be a bit tricky. Here, 之 is being used as a regular verb, "to go" and thus 何塗之 is akin to asking "through what road to go?" Thus, the entire sentence can be translated to, "[We] wish to give the nine-ding, but know not which road your great state will send the nine-ding through to Qi." The only thing tricky about the next sentence is 寡人. From the definitions I've given, you might think it means "the orphaned person" or the rare person" but it's actually a compound word meaning "I." However, unlike an ordinary first-person pronoun, this one is only used by sovereigns as an expression of humility. It's not certain how this term came to be used as a humble pronoun for kings. Some say it really did mean "orphaned one" and kings used it because presumably he only became king through the death of his father. Others say it's actually an abbreviated form of 寡徳之人, meaning "person of few virtues," which is also a way a person can humbly refer to himself in the 3rd-person. In any case, if you follow the rest of the definitions in the image above, you should be able to see that the whole sentence means, "The Qi king said, 'I am going to borrow a path from Liang.'"
Partitive marker function of the particle 之. Students of Japanese will note that の (whose kanji is 之)
has all the major functions of 之 as in literary Chinese, with the exception of its verbal meaning, "to go."
The next part starts off easy. "Yan Lu said, "[that is] not possible. Liang's rulers and ministers wish to obtain the nine ding." And then we have the 4th major use of the particle 之 that we have yet to cover (just how many uses does this particle have, you might be wondering). This use is what's known as a partitive marker and it should be easy to understand from the image above. Thus in 謀之暉臺之下,少海之上, the 暉臺之下,少海之上 are simply two specific examples of plots (謀) that Liang is planning. Huitai (暉臺) and  Shaohai (少海) are simply referring to a palace and a river in Liang. Keep in mind only the first 之 is a partitive marker here, while the second and third 之s are simply possessive markers. Additionally, implicit in both 暉臺之下 and 少海之上 are the verbs "to keep/place." This is pretty typical of 下 and 上, which can mean "below" and "above" but verbal actions associated with "below" and "above" like "going below/above." Also, if you're wondering who the Liang are, you might recognize them by their more common name, Wei, a major power in central China that had been the primary rival of their immediate Western neighbour, the Qin. 

Two things to explain about 其日久矣. First, 其 can mean something like "this/these" so 其日 simply means "these days." Implicit in this construction is that these days that Yan Lu is referring to are the days in which Wei was plotting where to put the nine-ding. Thus, 其日久 can loosely mean "They have been plotting for a long time." Second, 矣 can simply be thought of as 也, more or less. The major difference is that 也 ends nominal phrases, while 矣 ends verbal phrases. Thus, 矣 tends to emphasize the completion of some verb, which in this sentence is the plotting done by Wei, which is a good oratorical choice by Yan Lu. Thus, the whole sentence 謀之暉臺之下,少海之上,其日久矣 means "For a long time, they have plotted to place it [nine-ding] below Huitai or above Shaohai." The final sentence 鼎入梁,必不出 is very easy to understand simply from looking at the definitions. "If the ding enter Liang, they will most certainly not come back out."
This page is very easy, it's virtually identical to the previous page, except that Chu's palace is called Yeting (葉庭). One other important difference is the addition of 於 in 謀之於葉庭之中. To be honest, I'm not entirely clear myself why 於 was even added as it doesn't really add much. I suppose you could interpret the first 之 here as simply "it" so that it means "plotted it from inside Yeting," but I still think the likelier interpretation is that like before, 葉庭之中 is referring to the place the plotters wish to place the nine-ding, rather than where they're planning. In any case, this whole page can be translated as thus: The Qi king said, "I will borrow a path from Chu." [Yan Lu] said, "[That is] not possible. Chu's ruler and ministers wish to obtain the nine ding, and have plotted to place it inside Yeting. If the ding enter Chu, they will certainly not come back out."
The first sentence on this next page is very similar to what was covered just 4 paragraphs above. The only difference is that by now, the Qi king is getting slightly impatient/exasperated, so he uses 終, which means something like "In the end" or "finally." The whole sentence can be loosely translated as, "The king said, 'Then in the end, by what road should I send through the nine-ding to Qi?" Yan Lu's subsequent reply is the climax/highlight of this whole story. Keep in mind he doesn't want to annoy the Qi king, so he is using extremely flattering terms. For instance, although Zhou is a country, which is normally described with 國 or 邦, here he uses the less important-sounding 邑, which is more typically reserved for villages or districts than states. Also, 竊 used here is also a very humble verb (to dare to~) used while talking to one's superiors. Now I briefly mentioned 為 in part 2, but here, it's being used as a coverb meaning "for the sake of~" Thus, the first sentence of Yan Lu's reply can be translated as "Our poor city has stubbornly dared to worry about this [problem] for the sake of your majesty." 

To translate the final sentence on this page, let me first explain 者. One common use is to nominalize things such as "One who eats" (食者). However, it is also used as a part of the AB也 sentences I've talked about, in the form of A者B也. Thus like 也, 者 further emphasizes the "is" part of A is B. In short, 者 further emphasizes the subject its attached to. For instance, both "Greg男" and Greg者男" technically mean "Greg is a man." However, the latter sentence emphasizes Greg as a subject, so that it's more faithfully translated as "The one known as Greg is a man." Same process here. By using 者 after ding, Yan Lu is emphasizing the exceptional nature of a ding. Thus 鼎者 means something along the lines of "That which is known as a ding is..." Also, the coverb 以 here means "to" so that 以至齊 means "to reach Qi." Thus the entire sentence 夫鼎者,非效醯壺醬垂耳,可懷挾提挈以至齊者 means, "That which is known as a ding is not like a mere vinegar jar nor a sauce pot, which can be carried against one's chest or pulled along to reach Qi.
Here, the first line 非效鳥集、烏飛、兔興、馬逝,灕然止於齊者 is simply an extension of the previous sentence. So just as Yan Lu compared how the ding are unlike simple pots and jars, he is carrying the comparison even further by bringing in birds gathering, crows flying, rabbits thriving, and horse running (鳥集、烏飛、兔興、馬逝). This might seem like a strange comparison, but what he's doing is listing of examples of animals doing very natural things that require no effort. A bird doesn't need to spend days and days carefully calculating how to fly. It just flies. As for 灕然, which might seem confusing, this is simply being used as an adverb. Think about how you would describe the flow of water. Natural, simple, or effortless, right? Thus, 灕然止於齊者 can be understood as "effortlessly arrived at Qi."

Also, if you haven't noticed yet, you'll notice that this whole line is a repetition of the pattern we saw in the previous sentence as seen below.

非效醯壺醬垂耳,可懷挾提挈以至齊者 
非效鳥集烏飛兔興馬逝,灕然止於齊者

So in both the first parts of line 1 (非效醯壺醬垂耳) and line 2 (非效鳥集烏飛兔興馬逝), Yan Lu is making a comparison to things that are unlike the nine-ding. Meanwhile in the second parts of line 1 (可懷挾提挈以至齊) and line 2 (灕然止於齊者), he is the ease by which objects can be taken to Qi. This repetition of sentence structure or phrases is a pretty common rhetorical style in most languages, I would assume. For instance, take a quick look at Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream speech" and you'll see several such instances. 
The original Fengshen Yanyi was pretty heavy on the fantasy/religious elements, but the manga Houshin Engi cranked that shit up to 11. In contrast, Yokoyama did a more historicized adaptation, which I eventually will translate.
Moving on, we have 昔周之伐殷,得九鼎,凡一鼎而九萬人輓之 which is pretty easy to piece the meaning of by referring to the definitions above. Keep in mind that the particle 而 is highly contextual and here, the best fit would be something like "even" or "but." Additional note: 殷 is referring to the Yin dynasty. For some reason, the Zhou people preferred to call the Shang dynasty () as Yin, even though the Shang never used that name for themselves, and later historians like Sima Qian also used Yin. This is why, in both Japan and Korea, the Shang is still more popularly known as Yin, hence its usage in the famous shonen manga, Houshin Engi, which by the way is a rather creative take on the Ming-dynasty classic novel, Fengshen Yanyi. I haven't watched the 2018 remake but I heard it was bad...  Returning back to topic, we can translate the above line as "In the past [when] Zhou attacked Yin and obtained the nine-ding, even one ding was towed by 90,000 people."
The next sentence is 九九八十一萬人,士卒師徒,器械被具,所以備者稱此. Here, 九九 doesn't mean "nine nine" but rather "nine times nine." Typically, when kids in East Asia learn the multiplication tables, they won't say "nine times nine" but as "nine nine" since it's a lot shorter. This video for modern Japanese kids shows it in action. Thus by "nine nine" what Yan Lu really means is "nine times ninety thousand." In any case, this whole sentence is describing all the things that are needed to suitably prepare to haul the nine ding. Three things are mentioned. 810,000 people (八十一萬人), 士卒師徒, and 器械被具. Now, shi (士) is a social class in ancient China below the titled nobles but above the commoners. Hence, they're often translated in English as knights, like the many landed and unlanded knights in feudal Europe that served titled nobles. Originally, in the Western and early Eastern Zhou periods, their primary value was as military attendants to the chariot-riding nobles. Chinese chariots were typically operated by 2 or 3 people, so the shi would be the ones driving the chariot, or perhaps handing arrows to the nobleman armed with a bow. By the mid/late Eastern Zhou, however, the rise of conscript armies led to an infantry revolution, and this, paired with the adoption of cavalry, made the shi's original military function sort of useless. Hence, many of them had to keep up with the changing job-market by branding themselves as useful intellectuals or administrators in the emerging schools and bureaucracies. Confucius was one such example. In later times, the meaning of shi would change entirely to mean simply the gentry since China stopped having proper aristocracies. In pre-modern Japan, shi came to mean the samurai, as they were above the commoners (farmers, craftsmen, merchants) and functioned as scholar-officials in addition to their military  duties.

In contrast to 士, 卒 is more typically used for an unimportant foot solider. Thus 士卒師徒 refers to the "knights and foot-soldiers that follow an army." Meanwhile, 器械被具 refers to all the utensils, weapons, and clothes that an army must also prepare in addition to the soldiers. Lastly, 所以備者稱此 literally means "the means by which the preparations are [made] suitable for this [task]." The "means by which" is of course referring to the stuff preceding it. Thus the entire sentence 九九八十一萬人,士卒師徒,器械被具,所以備者稱此 can be loosely translated as "9 times 90,000 is 810,000 people. Preparing all these knights and soldiers accompanying the army, and their utensils, weapons, and clothes were necessary for this."
Houmuwu ding
Now it's probably obvious to the reader that Yan Lu is simply exaggerating, but don't go around thinking that these ceremonial ding are like the size of your ordinary cooking pots. The largest bronzeware to have ever been discovered in the ancient world is the Houmuwu ding, made during the Shang dynasty and weighing in at a whopping 832.4 kilograms! The nine-ding need not have been that big, but they were likely pretty damn heavy too considering that they were the most important ding vessels in all of ancient China. 
One slightly related funny story about the nine-ding is the incident of King Wu of Qin (r. 310-307 BC), who was proud of his own strength and favoured many retainers who were physically strong. His reign, however, was so short because when he visited Zhou, he thought it'd be cool to try lifting the nine-ding, urged on by his strongmen-retainers (it's stupid shit like this that makes us men have shorter lifespans than women). Unfortunately, the ding proved too heavy for him and broke his kneecaps. He died shortly afterwards without a heir, thereby plunging Qin to a civil war. So remember kids, when one of your retainers eggs you on by asking "Do you even lift, your highness?" the wise choice is not to go around lifting extremely sacred vessels like a muscle-headed buffoon.
Moving on, we see the first sentence here is very similar to the sentences we've covered in the post so there should be no need to break it down. Translated it means, "Now even if your majesty were to have [prepared] all these people, through what road will you [send the ding]  go [to Qi]? I am personally worried about this for the sake of your majesty." The Qi king, showing signs of slight exasperation, replies 子之數來者,猶無與耳. Literally, 子之數來 means, "your frequent comings [at me]." Of course, that'd make for a poor translation, and we should instead understand the "comings" as Yan Lu's speech which are directed to the Qi king. Thus the whole sentence 子之數來者,猶無與耳 loosely means "So what you mean in the end by all your words is that Zhou will still not give the nine-ding."
Alright, LAST PAGE. Finally! It's a pretty easy page. Like I explained at the end of part 2以 here is simply being used as a conjunction of two verbs. The only other thing I should explain is the nominalizing particle 所. For instance, "所love" would mean "that which is loved" and "所eat" would mean "that which I eat." In the case of 所從出, we should realize that the 從出 is an abbreviated form of the 塗之從而出 we've seen several times by now. With that in mind, it's easier to realize that 所從出 refers to the road by which the Qi King will take the nine-ding through and come out to Qi. Thus, we can translate this whole page as thus: Yan Lu said, "I would not dare deceive your great state. Please quickly decide the road by which you will take the nine-ding through. Our poor city will remove the nine-ding and await your orders." The Qi King consequently desisted.
>mfw after translating all this shit
Whew! I know parts 3 and 4 were pretty damn heavy on the grammar, so I'll be impressed if you bothered to make it this far even without having any interest or knowledge in Chinese. Even if you only skimmed through, I hope you were able to understand the peculiarities of literary Chinese like the frequent dropping of pronouns or verbs, the absence of punctuation, the dearth of prepositions, or the ambiguity of it all as each character has several meanings and can be either an adjective, noun, adverb, verb, or some other thing. In part 5, however, I'll do something a little easier to understand by commenting on the general use of diplomacy in war as a way to reflect upon the significance of this story. Before I end this post, here's a convenient summary for the whole story. 
It wasn't too hard, right...?
Qin raised an army that approached Zhou and demanded the nine-ding. The Zhou ruler was worried and informed Yan Lu. Yan Lu said, "Your majesty, please do not worry. Allow me to go East and borrow aid from Qi." Yan Lu arrived at Qi and said to the king, "Qin's actions are immoral as it raises troops to descend upon Zhou and demand the nine-ding. After exhaustively discussing all ideas, Zhou's ruler and ministers conclude that giving the nine-ding to Qin is not as good as entrusting it to a great state as yorus. To preserve a state from danger is a beautiful deed, and obtaining the nine-ding is a generous treasure. Please consider this, your majesty." The Qi king was ecstatic and dispatched an army of 50,000. Chen Chensi was made to take command to rescue Zhou, and thus the Qin troops withdrew. 
Qi then requested for the nine-ding, and the Zhou king was again worried. Yan Lu said, "please do not worry, great king. Allow me to head East and I will solve the predicament." Yan Lu reached Qi and said to the Qi king, "Zhou has depended on the justice of a great state and has been able to protect its sovereign and retainers, fathers and sons. We wish to give the nine-ding, but know not which road your great state will send the nine-ding through to Qi. The Qi king said, "I am going to borrow a path from Liang." Yan Lu said, "That is not possible. Liang's rulers and ministers wish to obtain the nine-ding. For a long time, they have plotted to place the ding below Huitai or above Shaohai. If the ding enter Liang, they will most certainly not come back out."The Qi king said, "I will borrow a path from Chu." Yan Lu replied, "That is not possible. Chu's ruler and ministers wish to obtain the nine-ding, and have plotted to place it inside Yeting. If the ding enter Chu, they will certainly not come back out. The king said, "Then in the end, by what road should I send through the ding to Qi?"  
Yan Lu said, "Our poor city has stubbornly dared to worry about precisely this issue for the sake of your majesty. The thing known as a ding is not like a mere vinegar jar nor a sauce pot, which can be carried against one's chest or pulled along to reach Qi. It is not like birds gathering, crows flying, rabbits thriving, horse running, and can effortlessly be taken to Qi. In the past when Zhou conquered Yin and obtained the nine-ding, even one ding was towed by 90,000 people. 9 times 90,000 is 810,000. Preparing all these knights and soldiers accompanying the army, and their utensils, weapons, and clothes were necessary for this. Now even if your majesty were to have prepared all these people, through what road will you send the ding to Qi? I am personally worried about this problem for the sake of your majesty." 
The Qi king said, "So what you mean to say by all your words is that Zhou will still not give the nine-ding." Yan Lu said, "I would not dare deceive your great state. Please quickly decide the road by which you will take the nine-ding through. Our poor city will remove the nine-ding and await your orders." The Qi king then finally desisted.

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