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This one story is going to take all year!

I'm going to try to keep everything I do in the following format:
sui2 fen2 yin1 hou2 sheng1, tian1 xia4 qi2 shi4 ye3
After the Marquis FenYin of the Sui dynasty was born, strange people (existed) all across the land.
The Marquis of FenYin in the Sui dynasty was the most unusual man in the world.
HouSheng from FenYin of the Sui dynasty was the most unusual man in the world.

The dictionary says 奇士 is eccentric or odd, but 奇 is really "remarkable".

Prof. C corrects me, saying this is a common idiom. (I think he means the idiom structure, not that the sentence itself is a common idiom.)

a noun naming a reference set followed by a
noun naming a member of the reference set modified by a
stative verb

"the idiom expresses the idea that the quality named by the stative verb is possessed to the highest degree in the reference set by that member. Thus 天下奇士 means “the most unusual man in the world”."

The 生 is "an extended use that no longer specifically refers to birth. It more commonly occurs as 生而." So it means "is intrinsically". I need to go look up 生而 in his book on ancient Chinese, he's even given me the page numbers I need. What Prof. C doesn't know is that I totally ignored the proper name markings in the text. Sigh. 隋 is a proper name, 汾陰 is a proper name, 侯生 is a proper name. Thanks to [ profile] paleaswater for pointing that out to me.

And he added "The place Fenyin (literally “south of the Fen river”) is interesting for being the first place where an altar to 后土 “empress earth”, counterpart to 皇天 “emperor sky”, was built.", which is the kind of thing I want to know.

If I were in Berkeley, I'd so be trying to audit his classes ...

wang2 du4 chang2 yi3 shi1 li3 shi4 zhi1
Wang Du frequently worked as a teacher.
Wang accorded him the honors of a teacher.

What is the correct meaning of 以师礼事? I think it parses as: 以师 almost certainly means "in the role of a teacher", but what is 礼事? "performed formal rituals"? And 之 is a marker indicating what? Frequently at the end of a phrase, I think 之 means "it". In this case, I think it means "for him".

See [ profile] paleaswater's comments below. I believe that makes it 王度 Wang Du 常以 frequently as 师礼 a respected teacher 事之 treated him. And the 之 is in fact indicating the pronoun he/she/it in this case.

lin2 zhong1 zhen4 du4 yi3 gu3 jing4 yue1 chi2 ci3 ze2 bai3 xie2 yuan3 ren2
Before dying, (he) gifted Du an ancient mirror, saying "carrying this causes 100 demons to stay away from a person".

Who was dying? A random weird person or the Marquis of FenYin? I think this it's the Marquis of FenYin, as the subject of this passage/paragraph. In this case 百邪 doesn't really mean 100 demons as much as it means many or most demons.

du4 shou4 er2 bao3 zi1
Du accepted it and treasured it.

jing4 heng2 jing4 ba1 cun4, bi2 zuo4 qi2 lin2 dun1 fu2 zi1 xiang4, rao4 bi2 lie4 si4 fang1, gui1 long2 feng4 hu3, yi1 fang1 chen2 bu4

The mirror was about 8 inches across, the nose was in the form of a crouching qilin
around the nose following the 4 directions, turtle, dragon, phoenix, tiger, arranged according to (compass) directions.

I believe the "nose" is the back and this is describing the design on the back of the mirror. There are some decent pictures here:

si4 fang1 wai4 you4 she4 ba gua4, gua4 wai4 zhi4 shi2, er2 chen2 wei4, er1 ju4 chu4 yan1

Outside the four directions was a bagua (8 trigrams) design, outside the bagua design was the (12 (positions of) branches and/as their representative animals?).

Need help with this one, too. What's the English for the 十二辰位? It's not really the Chinese zodiac, because it was used to name the hours of the day, count years, etc., but I think the closest known English analogy is probably zodiac? How do I parse 而具畜焉? Does the mirror have the 12 words and the 12 animals, just the 12 animals, or the 12 animals in the correct 12 positions, or does the text not specify? Googling leads me to think it's the 12 animals in the 12 positions, no text.

The 12 zodiac/branches and their order:


Out side the zodiac animals was placed 24 characters, circling the edge (of the mirror), the characters in the kang style, each dot and stroke complete, and not one was a real/known character.

似隶 means appear attached, but that doesn't seem right. See [ profile] paleaswater's comments below. 隶 is a style of calligraphy.

I think this means the 24 character were not known characters, a mysterious inscription, as it were.

I think that's it for this week, other than corrections and discussion. I have to go look things up in Prof. C's text book. If this organization doesn't work, let me know and we'll try something else.

Corrections: first line, second line, last line

Comment from Mondain: 隋汾陰侯生:Hou-sheng from Fenyin county in the Sui dynasty. 生 is the title for an educated man 儒生. The structure "NP1, NP2 也" is a declarative sentence, affirming NP1 is NP2.

Date: 2011-01-07 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it's 以 师礼 事之. That is, Wang accorded 侯生 the honors of a teacher, i.e 侯生 was Wang's teacher. So when he died he gave wang the mirror. What makes this sort things really hard for me is parsing out the names. I had to stare for a long time before I figured out 侯生 was the name, not 陰侯生.

Date: 2011-01-07 06:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also I found a modern Chinese rendering. But maybe I should not look at it now since I'll probably get more out of it if I have to puzzle out what it says.

Date: 2011-01-07 07:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
似隶, doesn't that mean it looks similar to the 隶 form, i.e that psuedo- archaic form of calligraphy that's often used in carvings and chops?

Date: 2011-01-07 07:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
隶 Ah! I had no idea that that was a kind of calligraphy! I've no idea what any kind of calligraphy is called.

Date: 2011-01-07 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
侯 is the position
生 is not part of the name
The actual name isn't given, just the title.

Date: 2011-01-07 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
See, that's even more confusing to me, because in the next paragraph he was referred to twice as 侯生. But maybe that's just like calling him by the title?

Date: 2011-01-07 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good point. I'll ask Prof. C and see if he responds. The nice thing about the other books is that they dissect the grammar line by line. Unfortunately, this book doesn't do that. Maybe I should look for a book that does ...

Date: 2011-01-07 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ohhh, you're right! I've been so focused on trying to figure out the grammar I totally IGNORED the proper name markers. I have to retranslate that first line entirely!!

Sorry, correction tonight.

Date: 2011-01-07 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Reading like this is super slow. You'll get bored! :-)

Date: 2011-01-07 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No no, this is super useful. I'm actually paying attention to the grammar of archaic Chinese for the first time, instead of just skipping what I don't know (which is most of it), and then give up and go read the modern rendering. If we do this I'm hoping that at the end I'll actually have the ability to read this stuff without referring to the comments all the time.

Date: 2011-01-08 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If we get stuck and I can't get a response from Prof. C, we can ask your mom! Or my mom! Or Aunt Dora who got her bachelors in classical Chinese, um 60 years ago and claims it was entirely a waste of time! LOL!

I've fixed the translation lines 1, 2, and 6. You are correct in all your comments. Thanks!!

Date: 2011-01-09 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Who is this Prof C? He seems an absolute fount of knowledge. And you're in e-mail correspondence with him?

My mom is no good for this sort of things. Being a ballet dancer meanings that her formal education is highly circumscribed -- it's probably worse than mine at this point. ^_^;;; My dad had he been alive would have been great, since he actually went to a 私塾 back when they still existed.

Date: 2011-01-09 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL, Prof C is my private nick name for on LibraryThing. Officially, he's John Cikoski. I've got his classical Chinese vocabulary down loaded, but it's slow going reading it with no background. He sometimes pops up at random and answers questions about classical Chinese here His comments are always very interesting.

I'm guessing, but it looks like he's a classical Chinese/Japanese professor at UCB.


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