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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

一首夜吟醉夢鄉 - Sighing in the Night, Dreaming of Home

廣寒1無心照花香,  The moon did not shine because the flowers are fragrant,

默對蓮塘醉夢鄉.    Silently upon the lotus pond I gaze in drunken stupor, dreaming of home.

枕上葉下2常樂伴,   On the pillow, under the leaves, forever together in bliss,

眼前飛來幾片霜3.   Then a few flakes of frost came fluttering before my very eyes.

1Literally, the "Grand Cold", name of the lunar palace.

2.  It is quite confusing if you don't know traditional culture.  Traditionally, on the pillows, a pair of Mandarin ducks is depicted under some lotus to denote conjugal bliss.  Here the comparison is cast between reality and the imaginary.  The real pond is empty because the plant grows only during summer.

3.  Can mean tears.

Of course, this is the result of many reincarnations spanning over a period of time.  I am not good enough to pen such a poem immediately.  It is the seed of an imagery that after tender loving care has now bloomed.  The original idea was conceived on October 07, 2014.

蟾宮寒意桂花香,  The Toad Palace is cold and the Osmanthus is fragrant,
荷池默對綠紗窗.  The lotus pond gaze silently at the green gauze window.
枕上鴛鴦常樂伴,  On the pillow, the Mandarin ducks are in eternal bliss,
驚破思緒幾片霜   Suddenly my thoughts broken by a few flakes of frost.

The idea and rhyming scheme are there but I find it to be too direct.  Later thinking, I had the last line changed to,

 眼前忽落幾片霜. Suddenly before my eyes, a few flakes of frost floating down.

On 08 Oct, the first line was changed to

廣寒無意見桂香, The moon unintentionally saw the fragrance of the moon.

Something is still amiss and the elegance I sought is not there.  Almost two weeks later on 21 Oct, it was morphed into this form,

廣寒無意照花香   The moon did not shine because the flowers are fragrant,
默對蓮塘醉.  Gazing silently at the lotus pond, in drunken stupor I think of home
枕上葉下常樂伴,  On the pillow, under the leaves, forever together in eternal bliss
眼前飄来幾片霜.   Suddenly, before my eyes, a few frost flakes came wafting by.

Finally on 01 Nov, On the second line, was changed into as I think it is more elegant and on the last line, into because the new character is easier for me to write with a brush. There is no change in tone of this replaced character.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning Classical Chinese III - 蒙學漢文初階

Lesson 101

未幾又見一羊 not_yet how_much/almost again see one goat
弟曰                   younger brother said
此牛甚小          this ox very small
兄笑曰              older brother laughed said
非牛也羊也     not ox [ep] goat [ep]

Not long [afterwards] a goat was seen.  The younger brother said,

"This ox is very small."

The older brother laughed and said,

"[It's] not an ox but a goat!"

Lesson 102

日午兒至園中散步時   day hour_of_wu child approach garden inside scatter walk time
黑雲濃密                         black clouds thick dense
天色若暮                         sky color like dusk/night
雷聲電光                         thunder sound lightning light
一時交作                         one time come_together/intersect to_make
懼而逃歸                         fear and escape return
方入門                             just enter door
大雨至矣                        big rain came [final particle]

At noon, when a child went for a stroll in the garden, clouds became black, heavy and dense.  The sky was like the night.  Suddenly the thunder came clashing with lightning.  [He grew in] fear and hurried return home.  Just as he entered through the door, the big rains came.


1.  A Chinese day is divided into twelve hours.  Each hour is approximately equivalent to two of the modern hour.  The hour of Wu is at noon.   An astrological animal and direction are associated with them.  is usually translated as "quarter of the hour".  This is because of a time system known as百刻 where the day is divided into 100 parts and that it corresponds to 14.4 minutes.  The term is derived on the carved mark on the water clock.

  11pm -  1am rat           N
    1 - 3               ox            NNE
    3 -  5              tiger        ENE
    5 - 7               rabbit     E
    7  - 9              dragon   ESE
    9 - 11            snake      SSE
  11am - 1pm  horse      S
     1 - 3              sheep     SSW
     3 - 5              monkey WSW
     5 - 7             chicken   W
     7 - 9              dog          WNW
     9 - 11            pig           NNW

2.  There are many meanings of.  Depending on context, it can mean "alas", "ah" or here the modern equivalent is a past indicator.  See Lessons #20, #65 and #78

Lesson 103

周武王姬發            Chou martial king Chi Fa
代殷有天下            substitute Yin have heaven under
啓宗室箕子            start ancestor room winnowing_basket viscount
子胥餘罔為臣僕    viscount all/assist/store not become subject servant
東來朝鮮                 east come  morning freshness
國人推戴為君        country man push respect become ruler
箕子教禮義            winnowing_basket master teach ritual righteousness
設八條之教         established eight [classifier] of teachings
是為箕子朝鮮    have become winnow_basket master morning freshness.

When King Wu of Chou replaced the Yin Dynasty, the main branch of the [defeated] family, the Viscount of Ji,  Xuyu did not wish to become the subject and servant [to the new regime] that he went to Chosun. The people there endorsed him to become their ruler.  He taught rituals and righteousness [to the people] and established the Eight Promulgations and he is known as the Viscount Ji of Chosun.


Unless you know some of the history, many will be puzzled because the words make no sense as they are names of places and people.

 1.  King Wu defeated the tyrant of the Shang/Yin Dynasty and established the Chou Dynasty.  Wu is the title.  His clan name is and his name is .

2. 箕子 is a title.  Some say is the name of the place and is taken to mean viscount.  However, modern research state that this is not correct.  It is just a Shang tradition to combine it with the name of the place they ruled. 胥餘 is the name.  Historically, he was one of the three righteous ministers of the Shang Dynasty and uncle of the last tyrant.  He was imprisoned by his nephew for his remonstrations  and set free by the new regime and was given lands to what is now known as Korea.  In Korean, 箕子 is Gija and胥餘 is Seoyeo.

3.  These were
      a.   capital punishment for killing (相殺,償殺)
      b.  grain compensation for injury (相傷, 償穀)
      c.  Those colluded in robbery, the men will turned into slaves and the women into maids. 
           To redeem oneself, one has to pay 50,000  pieces of copper. “相盜者,男沒入爲其家奴, 
       d.   The way of women being chaste and dependable. “婦人貞信
       e.   Being respectful of the domains of others.  “重山川,山川各有部界,不得妄相幹
           涉Literally, "Be respectful of the mountains and rivers.  Each mountain and river has   
             its boundaries, do not be presumptuous and interfere"
        f.   Those violate and encroach the sovereignty of villages shall be at once punished and 
              censured.  Their livestock, cows, horses will be forfeited as compensation. “邑落有相侵
         g.   Intermarriage between those of the same last names is forbidden. “同姓不婚
         h.   Those died from infectious sickness, their homes be abandoned at once and new ones 
                be constructed.   “多所忌諱,疾病死亡,輒捐棄舊宅,更造新居

Lesson 104

花園有假山其險    flower garden has fake mountain its danger
張氏兒謂眾曰        Chang clan child told crowd said
孰登之我酬以錢    who surmount it I reward with money
眾兒爭先                  crowd children fight first
一兒曰                       one child said
吾非售技者               I not seller skills the_one_who
豈可重財而輕命耶 how can heavy riches and light life [ep]

In the garden, there is a miniature mountain.  A child from the Chang clan said to a group of children,

"Who so ever would climb it, I will reward him with money."

All the kids fought to be the first.  However, one declared,

"I am no vendor of abilities.  How can I place emphasis on riches and not on my life!"


1.  假山 literally means fake hill/mountain.  Many dictionaries choose to translate it as "rockery" or rock garden which is totally wrong.  Rockery is an area where rocks or stones are placed to so that plants can grow among them.  A Chinese fake hill is some stone structure to resemble a miniature hill or mountain for viewing pleasure.  It is a garden element in Chinese landscape architecture to miniaturize nature, just like bonsai.

2.  Here and means to take or view things with heaviness or lightness.

3.  unlike is an emphatic questioning.

4.  is a final particle denoting great emphasis for the preceding action.  Usually this can be replaced by an interjection mark.

Lesson 105

某生堆雪為人 some person pile snow become man
五官四肢具備 five organ four limb all equip
語不應使          words not ought to_use
行不動              walk not move
生笑曰               person laugh said
百不如人           hundred not like man
何能立於世界  how able stand in world boundary
舉足蹴之崩       life leg kick it collapse

Someone made a snowman, complete with the Five Organs and four limbs.  [It] could not talk, not able to move.  Laughingly he remarked,

"In a many ways, you are not a man, how can you stand in this world?"

Lifting his leg, he kicked it down.


1.  The first sentence translated literally is "Someone piled the snow to make a man"

2.  The Five Organs: Eyes, nose, ears, mouth and tongue.

Lesson 106

堤川郡         dike/dam river canton/county/region
有義林湖     have righteous forest lake
湖中之地     lake middle of land
即忠清北道 that_is loyalty pure north province
而忠清南道在湖西 and loyalty pure south at lake west
全羅道在湖南          complete collecting at lake south

In the region of Jecheon, there is the Lake of Uirim.  The central area is the northern Chungcheong province. Southern Chungeong Province is to the west of the lake and at the south is the province of Jeolla.


1.  See Lesson 99 for

2.  Uirim (義林) = Forest of Righteousness.  Quite unlike Sherwood forest where "heroes" would gather like Robin Hood and his merry men.  義林湖(Uirimho, thanks to Kuiwon for this pronunciation) can be also be translated as a place name for "Lake of Righteous Forest".  I could not find anything on the net on this.  However, there is Uirimji (義林池) where it is a historic place and a popular tourist destination.  can be translated as a "large pond" or "reservoir".

Lesson 107

某童入隣家      some child enter neighbour family
見院中黃菊      saw courtyard inside yellow chrysanthemum
採其一               pluck of one
廊間有鸚鵡      corridor space has parrot parrot
忽大呼曰          suddenly great cry said
賊來賊來          thief come thief come
某童自此          some child from now
不敢妄取人物 not dare rash take man thing

Some child entered a neighbour's house.  He saw in the courtyard some chrysanthemums and plucked one.  In the corridor was a parrot which suddenly cried out,

"A thief! A thief!"

This child from then onwards dared not take things from others rashly.

Note:  The exact translation of the utterance, "賊來賊來", "A thief comes! A thief comes!".  However, this is not how English is expressed.  This is cultural preference.

Lesson 108

漢高祖劉邦時        Han_Dynasty high ancestor Liu Pang time
燕人衛滿                 State_of_Yan person guard full
因其主盧綰亂亡命 because his master Lu(last name) bind (name) chaos death life
來誘遂                       come seduce/entice to_succeed/to_proceed
箕子之後孫箕準     winnow viscount of after grandson winnow permit
據王儉城                  seize Wang (last name) frugal (name) city
自立為君                  self proclaim as king
是為衛滿朝鮮         is become guard full morning freshness

During the time of Han Dynasty founder Liu Pang, Wei Man from the State of Yan, because of the death of his master in the rebellion, Lu Wan came under Viscount Chun, the descendant of Viscount Ki and misled him.  He succeeded in seizing the city of Wang Jiang and established himself as the ruler.  This became the Wei Man Chosun.


1.  Liu Pang is the founder of the Han Dynasty.  His temple name is Kao Chu or the High (Grand) Ancestor.

2.  Wiman is the Korean pronunciation.  He was under the command of the Korean king when he fled from the Han Dynasty.

3. Lu Wan was a childhood friend of the Han Founder.  He was enthroned as the Prince of Yan.  Later, he was implicated in a rebellion against his friend.  He fled to the Hsiang Nu, the barbarians of the north where he died peacefully in exile.

4.  Gijun was the king/viscount of Korea whom Wiman had betrayed.  See Lesson 103 on his ancestor, Gija

5.  Wanggeom-seong, the city of Wangeom is the capital of the first ancient Korean kingdom.  See Lesson 94.

6.  Ancient Chosun is used to differentiate this newly established kingdom from the later one.

Lesson 109

聞慶郡有鳥嶺  hear celebration county have bird range
嶺南卽慶尚道      range south that_is celebration esteem province
大關嶺在江原道  great fortress range at river source province
嶺東有九邑           range east have nine cities/village

In the county of Mungyeong is the Joryeong Range.  South of the range is the province of Gyeongsang.  The Daewallyeong Range is at the province of Gangwon. There are nine cities in the eastern side of the range.


This is another lesson in Korean geography.  All Chinese names have meanings, quite unlike Western languages which the sound has more importance over meanings.  Therefore, one has to know the context well in order to translate.  For example, 嶺南, Lingnan is also a place in China meaning "south of the range".  The sentence, 嶺南卽慶尚道can also be translated as "Yeungnam is also known as the province of Gyeongsang".  So context plays a very important role.  Since I don't know anything about Korean geography, my guesses and interpretation may be wrong.

Lesson 110

一鼠食箱中米    one rat eat box inside uncooked_rice
聞人至                 hear man approach
慴伏不稍動         fear crouch not bit move
人意其遁去也     man think it flee/evade/escape go [ep]
及人去食如故     then_when man go eat if former
人疾其詐              man sickness its deceit
養貓以殺之       rear cat to kill it

A rat was eating the uncooked rice in the bin.  Heard man approached and in fear did not make any movement.  Man thought it had escaped and when the man left, it continued as usual.  Man's sickness [is caused by] its deceit. [Thus] cats are raised to kill it.


1.  Since rice is such an important crop for the Chinese, there are many words associated with it.  The uncooked form is and the cooked form is .

2. is a variant form of.

Lesson 111

路遠則人不能至       road far then man not able approach
故有車馬焉                because have carriage horse that's_it
旣有車馬便矣速矣  since have carriage horse convenience ah fast ah
然千里之地                it_is_so/correct thousand mile [pp] land 
非能旣至也                not able since approach [ep]
故又有鐵路                because also have iron road
以行火車焉                with move fire carriage that's_it

When the roads are long and far, man cannot travel.  Hence there are horses and carriages [for travel]. Since having these, how convenient it is!  How fast it is! Now that there are lands a thousand miles away, it is also not approachable.  Hence there are railroads so that trains can travel on them!


1.  Translating more literally the original nuance would be lost in English.

2.  Chinese is flexible enough to reuse terms for modern inventions.  Here the examples being railroads (iron roads), trains (fire carriages).  Other examples of electric nature are prefixed by the character for lightning which is now being changed into this new meaning.  To really mean "lightning" we prefix or suffix it with the character for thunder ie 電雷 or 雷電. Hence electric talk means telephone (電話), "electric pond"  is battery, etc.  When this is not possible, such as names of elements they did not know or newly discovered ones, the Chinese language uses the properties of these elements to create them.  For metallic ones, is used, for non-metallic, , for gaseous forms, and for liquids, . These radicals are then combined with a phonetic component to approximate the sound of the international standard.

Lesson 112

八口之家      eight mouth [pp] family
一人耕之      one man plow it
七人食之      seven man eat it
則家必貧矣  then family must poor alas
七人耕之      seven man plow it
一人食之      one man eat it
則家必富矣  then family must rich alas.
於國亦然       from country also in_this_state
分利者多       split/share profit/advantage those_who many
其國貧           their country poor
分利者少      split/share profit/advantage  those_who less
其國富          their country rich.

In a family of eight, one ploughs and seven eat.  Then family will be poor. If seven plough and eat like one person, the family will be rich.  The country is the same, with many taking away the riches, then their country is poor.  With less takers, the country is rich.


This is an example when a literal translation would not work.  At the first glance, "seven plough and one eats" sound very unfair. Even with the above translation following closely to the original text is still very awkward.  A better translation would be if the original text is not closely followed but still maintaining the nuance,

In a family when one produces, seven consumes, then it will be alas, a poor one indeed.  When seven produce and consumption like of one, then a prosperous family will be. So does a country, it will be poor when there are more consumers than producers.

Lesson 113

金母以橘二枚授二子 gold mother with mandarin_orange two [classifier] award/to_give two sons
幼子置不食                   younger son put/place not eat
母問何故                        mother ask what why
曰頃者                             said awhile [see comment]
兒有過                             son has mistake/wrong
父親禁勿食也               father dear forbid not eat [ep]
父適入聞之喜曰           father just_now enter heard him happy said
兒能不敢欺母               son able not dare deceive mother
可食橘矣                        can eat mandarin_orange ah

Mother Kim gave two mandarin oranges to her two sons.  The younger put it away and did not eat.  The mother asked why. After a bit of hesitation [he] said, 

"Your son misbehaved, father had forbidden me to eat."

Just then the father entered and heard [the conversation].  Happily he said,

"My son dare not deceive his mother.  So [you] can eat the mandarin orange!"


1.  Since this is a Korean text book, I believe Korean pronunciation should be used.

2. has three meanings in classical Chinese.  The most common one is "the one/thing who/which".   The other meaning is "this" or "that".  In this context, the third meaning applies.  It is used as a pause for dramatic effect, not unlike the semicolon in English.

Lesson 114

雀在田中覔食               bird at padi_field middle seek food
網獲其一                        net capture/obtain of one
置於籠中                        place into cage inside
不食而死                        not eat and die
夫雀飛天空                   [see comment] bird fly sky space
上下可以自由               up down can because [see comment][see comment]
為人所獲不自由           because man which obtain not [see comment] [see comment]
毋寧死矣                        none/no rather die ah

Birds were seeking food in the padi fields.  One was netted and place inside a cage.  It refused food and died. Alas, birds flying in the sky, everywhere they can be free.  Alas, because of man had captured it and lost its freedom, it would rather die [than to eat].


1. The original character used in the book was

a variant or how it is used in Chinese calligraphy.

2.  = husband is the most common meaning.  The other is an noble title use for its profession, for example, 樵夫 one who cuts wood i.e. woodcutter, one of the Four Noble Professions (漁樵耕讀) in ancient China.  大夫 a great man i.e. an older term for a ministerial position or a doctor.  Nowadays mainly used for those trained in Chinese medicine.  Even so, it is rare we would say中醫.  Another meaning is "this", "that", "he", "she", "they".  As a final particle, it is equivalent to the English use of the interjection mark.  In this case, as an initial particle, it introduces an opinion.

3.  This is another example of compound words that cannot be split up as its literal meaning is not evident.  自由 "Self cause"/"from oneself" aka "freedom".

Lesson 115

以手相摩覺熱         with hand mutual rub feel hot
冶匠擊砧                   cast smith strike anvil
其砧亦熱                   its anvil also hot
鑽木取火                   drill wood get fire
擊石取火                   strike stone get fire
皆摩生熱之驗也      all rub born heat [pp] result [ep]

With two hands rubbing together, heat is felt. The blacksmith strikes the anvil and it also becomes hot. Drill wood for fire, strike stone for fire.  This is the result of things being rubbed together.


1.   砧 usually mean a chopping board or a hammering block.  In the context, because of the blacksmith, this hammering block is thus an anvil.

2.   Note has two dots and not three!  means to govern or to control.

Lesson 116

衛滿之孫右渠  Wiman [pp] grandson right canal
殺漢使者           kill Han emissary person
漢武帝劉徹       Han martial emperor battleaxe thorough/penetrating
怒之分其地       angry him parted his land
樂浪                   joy/music wave
臨屯                   approach station_soldiers/village/store_up
玄菟                   dark/mysterious dodder
真蕃                   real luxuriant
四郡                    four administrative_areas
四部                    four areas
南境                   south border
惟三韓為獨立地方 only three koreas become alone standing ground place

Wiman's grandson, Uego killed the Han Dynasty emissary.  Emperor Han Wu Ti, Liu Che was angered and divided his kingdom into the four commanderies of Lelang, Lintun, Hsuantu and Chengfan areas.  In the south, only the three Koreas were independent.


1.  See Lesson Lesson 108 for Wiman

2.   Name of the last king of old Korea Ugeo.  See the following links.

3.  Han Wu Ti or the Martial Emperor.  His personal name was originally (pig) because his mother dreamt of a pig when giving birth, an auspicious sign.  Upon ascending to the throne, he had it changed to.

4.  here is translated as commandery, land that is controlled directly by the imperial government during the Han Dynasty.  Notice the character is combined with the "lord" character and the land radical.  The Korean equivalents are Rangnang, Imdun, Hyondo and Jinbeon.

5.  Samhan or the "three Koreas", see

Lesson 117

揮扇何以有風                 to_wave fan how for have wind?     
因空氣為扇所移動也    because space air for fan that/which shift move [ep]
故風者即氣之移動         hence wind the_one_that_cause so air [pp] shift move
大動則為大風                  big move then become big wind
小動則為小風                  small move then become small wind.

Why does waving the fan cause wind? This is because of the movement of the fan.  Hence the purveyor of the wind is the movement [of the fan].  Waving big causes the wind to be bigger, a smaller wave, thus a smaller one.

here can also be translated as "furiously" in this context without loss of meaning or nunance in the text.

Lesson 118

衣服過窄           clothes garment too narrow
則肢體不適         then limb torso not comfortable
屈伸不靈             bend extend not agile/nubile
盖衣與皮膚為鄰 cover clothing and skin skin as neighbours
其間宜稍有空隙 their space suitable somewhat have air crack/fissure
留熱氣流行之路 retain heat air flow move [pp] path
若緊縛肢體          if tight bind limb torso
両相密切              two mutual tight close_to
氣不通暢              air not through free/unimpeded/smooth/at_ease
易生疾病              easy born sickness illness

When clothing is too tight, then the limbs and the torso are not comfortable and their movements not easy.  The space between the coverings and the skin are somewhat close enough to retain the easy flow of [body] heat. If too tight, then the air is not easy flowing and [one] easily get sick.


1. is a variant of which is now used as the simplified version.

2.  A literal translation would sound strange in English,
"Clothing too tight, then the limbs and torso will be in discomfort.  Bending and stretching will not be effective. The coverings and skin are neighbourly close enough to have space to have a heat moving passage.  If tight and binds to the limbs and body, too mutually close, air will not pass easily.  Illness and sickness are easily born."

Lesson 119

人始生時        man start born time
飢不能自食    starvation not able self eat
寒不能自衣    cold not able self clothe
有語不能言     have words not able speak
欲出不能行     want out not able walk
此時若無父母   this time if no father mother
將如之何            future if [pp] how

When man is first born, in hunger he unable to feed for himself.  In cold unable to clothe himself.  With thoughts, unable to express himself.  If wanted to go somewhere, he cannot walk.  At this moment, if he has no parents, then what of his future?


The more direct translation of the line should be, "With words, he cannot speak".  However, this makes no sense.  A baby does not know any word!  He may have only the thoughts of basic desires in hunger and shitting.

Lesson 120

洌水以南一大地  pure/to_cleanse water of south one big place
曰韓                        called Korea
其曰三韓者           It called three Korea the_one_who
箕準避衛滿           Uego evade Wiman
居金馬郡                live gold horse county
是為馬韓                is become horse Korea
韓之東界人            Korea [pp] east world man
立國於辰方之地   establish country from earth_stem direction [pp] earth
是為辰韓                is become Chen Korea
南界人                    south world man   
立國於                    establish country from
弁山之下                Coming_of_age_cap mountain [pp] under
是為弁韓                is become cap Korea

South of River Yeol is a piece of large land called Korea. The people there called themselves [Men of the] Three Koreas. Uego in order to escape from Wiman, went to live in the county of Geumma and was thus known as the Ma Korea. East of Korea, the people established a country in the direction of the Chen and is known as the Jin Korea.  In the South, the people established their country  at the foot of Mt. Byeon and thus known as Byeon Korea.


1. See Lesson on 108 for Uego and Wiman

2. The Three Koreas is known as the Samhan, comprising of Mahan, Jinhan and Byeonhan.

Lesson 121

上古茹毛飲血之世 before ancient eat fur drink blood [pp] world
惟藉獸皮以蔽其身 only borrow/take animal skin to hide its body
後世聖人乃為之     after world saint man therefore for it
製衣服                      make clothes clothes

In prehistoric times, it was a world of savagery. Animal skins were used to cover [man's naked] body.  In later times, wise men therefore [taught] them how to make clothes.


1.  means to eat raw.  The literal translation of the idiom 茹毛飲血 should be translated as "eat things covered in fur and drink its blood" and not "eat fur drink blood".   The figurative means "being like a savage".

2.  Here is a variant form of and not the to mean "excuse" as in藉口

3.  Here 聖人 should not be translated as saints or even "saintly".

Lesson 122

天下林林総総之眾  heaven under forest forest together together [pp] populace
所操之業以四民      for grasp [pp] occupation is four classes
為正四民者               for main class those_who
何士農工商也         mainly scholar farmer artisan merchant [ep]

Under Heaven, of the colorful multitudes, there are four kinds of professions which are divided into the four classes.  These are the scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants.

1.  林林 like the many trees in a forest.  Together with the next two characters, they form a melodious sound to mean the varied and plentiful.  This idiom means "all kinds of different people".  The original character used here is composed of the left hand side radical of and on the right is the character of.  

Another variant of 總 is .

2.  The Four Classes.  Compare this to the Four Noble Professions: 漁樵耕讀, the fisherman, woodcutter, the farmer and the scholar.

Lesson 123

家養貓犬   home rear cat dog
犬為貓曰 dog for cat said
我防賊      I prevent theft
爾防鼠      you prevent mice
各司其職  each take_charge its job
一日賊       one day thief
竊物去       steal things go
貓為犬曰  cat for dog said
爾大於我  you big than me
而曠職       and neglect job
得無愧乎  have no shame?

There was a family who kept a cat and a dog.  The dog said to the cat,

"I prevent theft, you prevent mice.  Each of us take charge of our jobs."

One day, a thief came and stole some things and escaped.  The cat said to the dog,

"You are bigger than me.  You have neglected your job.  Have you no shame?"

Lesson 124

一日大雨                  one day big rain
兒問雨自何來         child ask rain self where come
父曰爾不見雲乎     father said you not see cloud?
有雲而後有雨         have cloud and later have rain
則雲乃未化之雨    then cloud thus not_yet transform [pp] rain
雨乃已化之雲         rain thus already transform [pp] cloud

One day, there was a storm.  A child asked,

"Where does rain come from?"

The father replied, "Didn't you see the clouds? When there are clouds, the will be rain afterwards.  Thus clouds are rain not yet transformed and rain is thus already transformed clouds."

Lesson 125

猴煨芋於爐 monkey roast_in_ashes in furnace/oven
謂貓曰          said cat say
熟則贈汝      cooked then present you
汝試取芋      you can try take taro
貓大喜          cat big happy
取芋出          take taro out
掌幾爛          palm almost broken/rot
擲於地          toss onto ground/earth
猴俟其冷      monkey wait it cold
而食之           and eat it
愚者之役      stupid the_one_who [pp] corvée
於智者如是  to wisdom the_one_who like is

A monkey was roasting taro in an oven made from ashes. It said to the cat,

"When it is cooked, it shall be presented to you."

The cat was overjoyed.  [When cooked] the cat tried to take the taro out. Its paw was almost scalded and tossed the it onto the ground.  The monkey waited until it became cooled and ate it.

Those who are stupid are thus corvées to those with knowledge.


A Chinese reader pointed out this is a classical story which which the idiom, 火中取栗  (Taking chestnuts from the fire) was derived.

Lesson 126

扶餘王子高朱蒙 to_support_with_the_hand extra king son high red misty [See Lesson 1 Note 5]
起西北部              rise west north region
攻取漢郡              attack take Han province
建國曰高句麗     establish country called high sentence beauty
朴赫居世              plain/simple  conspicuous  live world
起辰韓                   rise Chen Korea
統一諸部               unite one various regions
建國曰新羅           establish country called new silk
扶餘温祚入馬韓  support extra warm blessing enter horse Korea
滅箕氏而                destroy winnow clan and
建國曰百濟           establish country name hundred crossing_river
是為三國               is became three country

Buyeo prince, Go Jumong rose from the northwestern region and conquered the Four Commanderies of the Han Dynasty and established the kingdom called Goguryeo. Bak Hyeokgeose rose against Jinhan and established the kingdom of Silla. Buyeo Onjo entered Mahan and destroyed the Ji clan and established Baekje.  They became to be known as the "Three Kingdoms".


See Lesson #120 for some of the Korean historical places.  It is very difficult to translate transliterations to Korean sounds since I do not know Korean nor well in Korean history.  Most of what I know are from watching Korean historical drama.  The information gathered is from the internet using both English and Chinese sources to get the correct Korean Romanization.  For the  interested reader, you can refer them in Wikipedia.

Lesson 127

雄鷄司晨        male chicken manage morning
牝鷄育卵飫   female chicken nurture egg satiated
以所棄粒食   thus because abandon grain eat
或啄蟲            or peck worms
歲暮殺            year evening kill
以享神噫        so enjoy gods alas
能生我者        able give_birth me the_one_who
即能殺我        this able kill me
賴人活者        dependent people live the_one_who
其鍳之             its reflect/mirror it

The rooster manages the morning.  The hen broods the eggs.  Satiated from food, it abandons all grains or pecks at worms.  At the end of the year, they are killed as offering to gods.  Thus those can bear me, can also kill me.  Those who rely on others for livelihood should take note.


1.  This is one of the more difficult passages to translate because of its terseness.  My translation may be not correct.

2.  歲暮, literally means the evening of the year.  Hence end of the year.

3. is a final interjection to mean "alas", "woe is me", "sigh" to denote sorrow.

4. There are several means of .  It is an ancient term to denote some kind of a private banquet; cloyness; satiated from eating or from such an event;  It can also mean tired from listening too much of "gossip", "to present" or some kind of imperial ritual feast before the emperor and ministers discuss on important matters of state, etc or the music performed in such ritual.

5. - ancient Chinese bronze mirrors and as a verb to reflect on oneself as if looking at the mirror.

Lesson 128

騾負鹽包      mule bear salt bag
渡河蹄略蹲 cross river hoof slightly crouched/squat
鹽化水           salt change water
量遂輕顧      weight follow light consider
騾述其故       mule relate it reason
騾負羊皮包   mule bear sheep skin bag
放之                let_go it
量加倍           weight increase a_fold
騾自嘆曰       mule self lamented said
不自量已       not self capacity because
襲他長徒       inherit others long bad_person
自苦耳           self sorrow that_is_all

A mule was bearing a load of salt.  While crossing, it slipped slightly and the salt dissolved and therefore the load became lighter.  The mule deduced that it must be because of the slip that caused this.  The next time when it carried a load of sheep's skin, it followed its previous logic.  The load increased a fold.  The mule lamented to itself,

"I had overrated myself.  I had to suffer and endure this hardship!"


1.  I translated this by meaning rather than directly for it would be a very awkward translation.

2.  自量 together means "overrate one's ability and strength"

3.  長徒 together means "forced labour" an ancient punishment.  For example, conscripted labour at the Great Wall.

Lesson 129

某兒夜讀書        one child night read book
倦甚                     tired very
燒廢紙以照        burn useless paper to shine
物遺火於帳        thing remains fire to curtain   
幾被焚                some [passive particle] burn
母曰                     mother say
事無鉅細            things no hook small
皆當謹慎           all ought cautious/care cautious care
小不慎               small not caution
即有禍害矣.     then have catastrophe harm [past particle]

One child was studying at night and was very tired.  He burnt the wastepaper as light.  However, the curtains caught the fire from the remnants/ashes and almost caught fire.  The mother said,

"There are no things that are large or small.  One has to be careful and cautious. If caution is cast to the winds, then harm and catastrophe would result."


1.  here is a variant form of , huge, large, etc.  The other six meanings are
      a.   hard iron
      b.   hook
      c.  variant of
      d. variant of
      e. last name
      f.  hanging bells or the structure to hold the , Chinese chimes used for court music.

2.  The modern equivalent of is

Lesson 130

兒童三人       child boy three person
約相戲搏        meet_up mutual jest combat
其一素無力    this one usually no strength
隨二人後        follow two person back
俟二人力衰    wait two person strength weak
乘機搏之         take_advantage opportunity combat them
二人俱敗         two person entirely defeated
觀者曰             observe the_one_who say
凡事皆有機     ordinarily events also every have opportunity
苟不失其事機if_supposing not lose its matter opportunity
則弱者               then weak the_one_who
亦能勝强           also able victory strong

There were three boys who had planned for a mock combat.  One of them is always weak.  He followed the other two and waited until their strength is weakened.  Taking this opportunity, he attacked them.  Both of the other boys were defeated.  An observer said,

"For all matters, there is always an opportunity.  If the opportunity is seized upon, then even the weak will be victorious over the strong."

Lesson 131

牛馬挽車而行  ox horse draw carriage and move
朝夕不休           morning evening not rest
少遲痛鞭之      little late/slow pain whip it
服勞役               serve labour corvée
而又受苦          and also bear hardship
楚無自主權者 pain/suffering no self control power the_one_who
大都類是          mainly also class/type/kind yes/is

Horses and oxen are used to draw carts; day and night without rest. If a bit slow, they will be painfully whipped.  Those serving as corvées will suffer hardship. Sufferance are those without autonomy; which most people belong to this group.

Lesson 132

兄弟二人  older_brother younger_brother two people
自學堂歸  from study hall return
兄於途中  older_brother from journey inside
買一梨       buy one pear
弟索食       younger_brother demand/ask/to_exact eat
不與           not with
弟告其父  younger_brother tell his father
父曰           father said
兄長弟幼  older_brother older younger_brother younger
兄當愛弟   older_brother ought love younger_brother
遂取梨       then took pear
各半分之  each half share it

Brothers two, returning from the study hall.  On the way back, the older brother bought a pear.  The younger one asked for it to eat [but] was refused.  The younger boy complained to their father.  The father said,

"The older ought to love the younger."

Then [he took] the pear and divided half for each one.


1.   In the old days, a study hall is a private school where students studied together.  For the rich, a private tutor would be hired to teach the sons in their own home.  However, from the context, we know that this is not the case.

2.  Someone from italki mentioned that this is a classic story of孔融讓梨

Lesson 133

羅麗濟三國時   silk beauty alms three country time
有金首路起南部 have gold head road start south area
併弁韓地              annex dispose_of Han land
而建國曰駕洛     and establish country called to_drive name_of_river
後為新羅所併     later from new silk that annex

During the time of the Three Kingdoms, Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje… There was Kim Suro who rose from the south and annexed the Korean land.  The established country was called Garak which was later being absorbed by Silla.


1.  羅麗濟.  Short for Silla, Goguryeo  and Baekje.  Thanks to Kuiwon for pointing this out!

2.  金首路.  Transliteration for Kim Suro, founder of the Garak (Gaya) kingdom.

3.  Shilla, another ancient Korean kingdom that first unified the Korean peninsula with the help of the Tang Dynasty.

Lesson 134

三國各保一隅  three countries each protect one corner
互相侵伐           mutual mutual incur attack
其後新羅           this after new silk
會唐兵滅        meet Tang soldiers annihilate
百濟高句麗    hundred alms high word beauty
統其一地         unify this one ground

Each of the Three Kingdoms controlled a corner [of the Korean Peninsula].  They fought with each other.  Later, Silla with the help of the Tang, annihilated Baekje and Goguryea.

Lesson 135

東家兒與西家兒為友  east family child and west family child become friend
西家兒至東家               west family friend come east family
東家兒迎入座               east family child welcome enter seat
將所玩之木椀竹豆      [direct particle] all play [pp] wood bowl bamboo bean
陳列作宴客禮              lay_out row to_make banquet guest rite/ceremony/etiquette/courtesy
此雖游戲                       this though leisure play
知交際之道矣              know exchange border [pp] path ah

A child of the east side and a child of the west side became friends.  The west side child went to visit the east side family.  The east side child welcomed him to the seat; bringing out all the toy wooden bowls and bamboo beans and arranging them in rows to show the courtesy and etiquette of the host to a guest.  Although this is only a make-believe game, knowing the path to social graces [is a must].


1.   To translate literally, "an east family child" or even "a child from the east family" would puzzled the English reader on the first glance.

2.  "To enter seat" means "to be seated".  In Chinese culture, when a guest arrived, he is given a seat.  How he is to be seated indicates his social importance to the host.  The honoured ones are given to the east side of the hall.  Unless the guest is of such superiority, he is never seated higher than the host or to take the "superior seat".  In all cases, tea is the next thing served.

3.  Originally, before porcelain was discovered, serving bowls are made from wood.  The rich may use gold or silver ones.  When ceramics come into vogue, the wood radical is changed into the stone radical.  However, Japanese still use the wood radical character, reflecting the times when Chinese culture was imported.

4.  In classical Chinese and are the same.  In later times, the different radicals were used to disambiguate the different meanings. However, with simplification of Chinese characters, they become synonymous again.  Therefore in this passage, is not the simplified character.

 Lesson 136

鼠晝行院中         rat day walk courtyard inside
適有人過             suitable have person pass
夫鼠晝伏夜行   [introductory particle] rat day crouch/hide night move
乃其宜也            hence it appropriate [ep]
出入無時            exit entry no hour
遂殺其身           then kill its body
可不戒哉           can not cautious !

If a rat crosses the courtyard in the day and man happens to pass by…  This is why it hides during the day and becomes active at night.  Hence it is an appropriate thing for it to do. Coming and going at anytime, will bring death unto itself.  It cannot afford not to be not cautious!


無時 literally no time, means anytime!

Lesson 137

周生釣魚河側  Chou Mr fish (verb) fish (noun) river side
久之獲一魚       long it reap one fish
視其腹                look its belly
孕子其衆           pregnant son its many
仍棄之               still abandon it
或問其故          someone ask its reason
周生曰                    Chou Mr say
吾不忍得一魚       I not bear obtain  one fish
而殺無數魚子也  and kill countless fish sons [ep]

Mr. Chou was fishing by the side of the river.  After a long while, he caught one.  Looking at its belly, it was pregnant and fully swollen.  Still, he threw it back.  Someone asked for the reason.  Mr. Chou replied,

"I cannot bear that in order to get one fish, countless future fish will be killed!"


1. See commentary in Lesson 51 for 

2. The literal translation for the quote is awkward in English, "I cannot bear that to obtain one fish, countless fish babies are killed."

Lesson 138

以木架一橋形 with wood frame one bridge shape
狹甚                    narrow very
數兒賽步於上   some kids compete walk from up
一兒不敢行       one child not dare walk
數兒曰                some kids said
此雖遊戲            this although leisure play
所以練膽也       for with practice gall!
人而無膽            man and no gall
豈能大事哉        how able great achieve !

With some wood, a bridge like contraption was made.  It was very narrow.  Some children compete by walking on it.  One child dared not.  So they taunted him,

"This is only a game to practise your bravery.  Man without bravery, how greatness be achieved!"

The Chinese believe that the seat of bravery is the gall.  Very similar to the English expression, "have the gall/nerve" to express confidence in a negative way.

Lesson 139

新羅之末            new silk [pp] end
弓裔叛於北京   bow descendant rebel from north capital
國號泰封            country name peace bestow
甄萱叛據完山   distinguish/evaluate day_lily rebel seize finish mountain
自稱後白濟        self proclaim latter white alms
新羅見侵削        new silk see incur pared
遂至於亡            thereupon approach at death

In the waning days of Silla, Gungye rebelled against the northern capital and called the new state Taebong. Gyeon Hwon rebelled; seized the city of Wansan and self proclaimed to be the Later Baekje.  Silla saw its territories incurred and pared away and ultimately led to its demise.


1.  In this context, it means the northern capital and not Beijing which also means the northern capital.

2. 萱堂 "Lily of the Hall" is an honorific and very formal term for mother. 樁萱隸萼 is a colorful and formal term for parents and siblings.   is a legendary ancient tree.  grows in the warmer west side, usually the women's quarters in a traditional housing layout.  隸  means "attached" and is the calyx.

Lesson 140

桃花大開     peach blossom big open
兄與弟         older_brother and younger_brother
游於花下    wander_in_leisure from flower under
一蝶來        one butterfly come
弟撲之              younger_brother leap it
兄曰                  older_brother say
子愛花              you love flower
蝶亦愛花          butterfly also love flower
以己之愛情      with self [pp] love affair
破壞蝶之愛情 split bad butterfly [pp] love affair
不恕甚矣          not excusable very this_is_it/end_of_story

The peach flowers were blossoming profusely.  An older brother and his younger brother strolled under them.  One butterfly came and the younger brother leapt at it.  The older brother said,

"You love the blooms and the butterfly also love them.  With your love for them you destroy the love of the butterfly.  This is highly inexcusable!"

Lesson 141

群蜂結巢               group bees made nest
卽成會議曰          when done together discuss say
如有伐我巢而殘 if have attack our nest and ruin/destroy/injure
我同種者              I same kind the_one_who
共刺之                  together pierce it
人之有國             man [pp] have country
猶蜂有巢             like bee have nest
爾學生                 you learn student
當知愛國            ought know love country
當知愛同種       ought know love same kind

A group of bees built a nest.  When completed, they discussed and said,
"If our nest is attacked, we of the same kind will together pierce it."
Man in having a country is like bees having a nest.  You students ought to know the love of your country; ought to know the love of your fellowmen.

Lesson 142

泰封諸將            peace bestow various generals
立王建為王       establish king builder become king
是為高麗太祖   is become high pretty grand ancestor
剋剗羣兇           subdue eradicate group vicious
統合三韓          fearsome unite combine three Korea
移都松嶽          move capital pine high_mountain/highest_peak_in_mountain_ridge
至於季世           approach from season world
恭讓不君           respectful allow not king
遂至於亡          thereupon approach to death

A group of Taebong generals elected Wanggeom as king and he became the founder of Goryeo. He purged his vicious enemies and united the three Koreas.  As for the last epoch of his dynasty, Gongyang was deposed and soon followed to his death.


This is one of the most difficult passages to translate.  In part, there is no punctuation to help and my lack of Korean history and place names added the difficulty in understanding the meaning.  I could only get only a fuzzy idea based on the context.  Much research was put into it before the passage becomes clear.

At the same time, this lesson illustrates that characters on their own differ in meaning when put together in certain combinations.  A direct word by word translation does not make much sense even with educated guesses.

1.  泰封, "Bestower of Peace" is Later Goguryeo, a state in the later period of Korea's Three Kingdom.  See

2.  Actually there were only four generals who were the kingmaker.  See above link.

3.  太祖, the Grand Progenitor, is a posthumous title given to the founder of the dynasty.  is usually reserved for the first two emperors of the dynasty because of their merit to the founding of the empire.  All descendants has to contend with the (ancestor) title.  However, an anomaly exists in the Ch'ing Dynasty.  The founder Nurchaci, was titled as the grand progenitor.  When he died, his brother, was given the posthumous one of 太宗, the Grand Ancestor.  However, the next emperor, his nephew Shun Chih 順治was titled 世祖.  The reason being that he was first Manchu ruler to sit on the Chinese throne in Peking.  It would be seen as improper for him to be given a less exalted title.  Thus the next emperor, Kang Hsi was given the title of 聖祖, Saintly Ancestor.  The rest had to contend with .

4. is a variant of , a spade or "to purge".  is a variant of .

5.  至於 together means "and thus", "as for" etc.  can mean the following,
     a.  season
     b.  the last month of the season
     c.  fourth or youngest amongst brothers.
     d.  classifier for seasonal crop yield.

As a unit, 季世 means the "last phase", "last epoch", "final years".

6.  恭讓 is a title of the last king of Goryeo bestowed by the founding ruler of the Chosun Dynasty.  It literally means "respectfully allowed" [to be demoted from king to subject].  See

Lesson 143

我太祖高皇帝          My grand progenitor high emperor emperor
應天命                       answer heaven life
順人心                       follow/obey people heart
國號朝鮮                  country named morning fresh
定鼎于漢陽             to_set tripod at Han sun/maleness
聖子神孫                 saint children divine grandson
繼繼繩繩                 continue continue rope rope
至於我太皇帝       as for my grand emperor emperor
光武元年                bright martial original/first year
改國號曰               change country name call
大韓                        great Korea
實萬世無疆之體  surely ten_thousand life no boundary [pp] body

My Grand Progenitor High Emperor has the Mandate of Heaven and the will of the people.   The country is called the Great Chosun and its capital at Hanyang.  Saintly children and divine descendants shall continuously be forever more. As for my grand emperor, in the first year of Gwangmu, the country was changed to the Great Empire of Korea, surely boundless and eternal.


1.  Remember this book was published during Imperial Korea.

2. The tripod is a symbol of imperial authority.  It dates back to the Chou Dynasty who had nine giant ritual bronze tripods made as part of the State imperial regalia to represent the nine provinces of ancient China.  Their enormous size and weight symbolize stability.  Hence a common saying, "words are as heavy as the Nine-Tripod Cauldrons",言如九鼎 to mean unbreakable promise.

3.  The first year of Kwangmu is the year of 1897.  The reformation is similar to the Meiji Restoration in Japan where the country is modernize to Western standards.

Lesson 144

物之落水也  things [pp] drop water [ep]
較水輕則浮  compare water light then float
較水重則沉  compare water heavy then sink
輕重與水同  light heavy and water same
浮沉之間       float sink [pp] time
凡物重量入水 as_for thing heavy amount enter water
則較在陸         then compare at land
稍减者               a_bit decrease the_one_who
由水有浮力也  because water have float strength [ep]

When things are dropped into the water, if lighter, then they float; if denser, then they sink.  Whether they float or sink [will be known] at that instant will know if they are dense or light.  As for anything that enters into the water, it will be lighter than on land because water has buoyancy.

Note:  It is better to translate as dense because a battleship is heavy but still floats on water.

Lesson 145

劉五手執竹竿    Liu_a_last_name five hand hold bamboo rod
游於園中             roaming_leisurely in garden inside
見蚯蚓一頭         saw earthworm earthworm one head
而遂欲擊殺之    and then want attack kill it
其兄止曰             his older_brother stop said
是不可擊             is not can attack
能轉地                 able bore earth/ground
成穴通氣之出入  become cave through air [pp] out enter
使植物益茂          cause plant thing beneficial luxuriant
劉五横竹竿          Liu five horizontal bamboo rod
於袴下                  to trousers under
疾馳而出              quickly gallop and exit

Lyuo was holding a bamboo rod and was cruising leisurely in the garden.  He chanced upon an earthworm and wanted to kill it.  His older brother stopped him and said,

"Mustn't do so as it makes air passages in the ground because it is beneficial for the plants and cause them to grow luxuriantly.  Lyuo quickly swung the bamboo rod under his trousers and quickly left the place.


1.  劉五 means the fifth child or son in the family.  In old China, especially the uneducated, the easiest way to name their children is by numerically.  Only when, if they ever have the chance to go to school (there were no public schools, only private ones), the teacher will bestow upon them a good name.  Lyuo is the Korean rendition to "Liu Wu" in Mandarin.  After all, this is a Korean book - one should respect and honour the naming convention.  Of course, if I don't; it shows my lack of knowledge in Korean.

2.  means horizontal.  In Chinese, this can also denote the action of causing a thing to become horizontal.  For example, 橫雨, slanting rain; meaning that the wind is blowing causing towards a horizontal orientation.  橫笛, the Chinese horizontal flute to distinguish from the vertical flute, .

3. , variant of .

Lesson 146

秋間蟋蟀甚多 autumn time cricket cricket much many
捕其雄者          catch its male the_one_who
置於陶器          place into earthen ware
彼此相鬪          that/those/one (another) another  mutual fight
勝則瞿然而鳴 win then startled state_of and chirp
似得意狀噫      like obtain desire demeanor alas!
優勝劣敗          excellent victory inferior defeat
蟋蟀不免          cricket cricket not exempt
况人也              moreover man [ep]

In autumn when there are plenty of crickets around, catch the males and put them in an earthenware.  There will be a mutual fight with one another.  Upon victory, it will chirp excitedly as if in smugness.  In great victory or utter defeat, crickets are not exempt [from such emotions]; moreover man!

Lesson 147

我國以東土為本   My country with east soil become original/main/source
部分為十三道    part divide become ten three provinces
本部之外又有三屬地 main part [ep] outside also have three subordinate place
耽羅國濟州島              indulge/delay gauze country alms province island
于山國鬱陵島              from mountain country melancholy mound island
渤海國北                       swelling sea country north
間島是也                       space island is [ep]

My country is centered in the eastern soil.  The area is divided into thirteen provinces.  There are three dependencies outside of this central area.  The country of Tamna is situated on the Jeju Island; The country of Usan is situated on the island of Ulleung.  North of Balhae is Gando.


1.  Again another difficult piece to translate as I do not know Korean history or geography well enough.  Since Chinese place names have meaning in themselves and the lack of punctuation makes it even more ambiguous.  For example, on the first glance without knowledge of Korean culture, the last two lines can be parsed as渤海國北間, 島是也.  This gives rise to an entire different meaning, The area north of Bokai are islands!


From a Korean reader, (

(1) You must read '渤海國北間島' as '耽羅國濟州島' or '于山國鬱陵島'.
北間島, 濟州島 and 鬱陵島 are the names of islands. Of course, is 'island', but the name itself have the word .

(2) As "Jeju Island", we call 北間島 as "Bukgan Island". Therefore, the right translation is, "The country of Balhae is situated on the Bukgan Island."

(3) However, the history is different. Balhae was not situated "on an island" but "on the northern part of the Korean Peninsula", and 北間島 is not "an island" but "the northern part of the Korean Peninsula."

(4) Then, we have a question: "Why does the name of the area include ?" One of the explanation is as follows. There is an island, 間島 between the two rivers which are the boundaries of "the Korean Peninsula" and "the main land of China." 北間島 is the northern part of 間島.

(4) The other name of 北間島 is Jiando.

Lesson 148

某兒游戲庭中  some/one child leisure play courtyard inside
擲芥於杯           toss mustard into cup
水旋轉如舟      water revolve whirl like boat
取桃葉代之      take peach leaf replace it
則膠滯不動      then sticky sluggish not move
其父曰                   his father say
事之成否               matters/things [pp] success not
必得適宜之分量  must have suitable appropriate [pp] component amount
強為之                   strong/force to it
無益也                   no benefit [ep]

One child was playing in the courtyard.  He toss some mustard [seeds] into a cup.  The water swirled like [those by] a boat.  Replacing by a peach leaf, it [the water] became sluggish and viscous.  His father said,

"Matters must be of appropriate size if is to succeed.  Using force to ensure success is not beneficial!"


1.  Without context, 水旋轉如舟 can be translated as water swirling like a boat.  Even so, it is quite puzzling; a swirling boat?

2.  means sap, glue or stickiness.  In this context, "viscous" is the most appropriate as the water behaves like sticky glue, moving very slowly.

3.  分量 is the same as 份量 which is the preferred term in modern usage.

Lesson 149

甲童取一橙 "A" child took a bench
謂乙童曰       tell "B" child say
躍過此           jump over this
為有力者      because have strength the_one_who
甲先之          "A" first it
乙不能          "B" not able
乙歸習之      "B" return practise it
無間竟能       no time indeed able
躍二橙而過  jump two bench and over
而甲不能      and "A" not able
乙誠有競爭心矣 "B" honestly have competitive vie heart [final particle]

Child A took a bench and told child B,

"Jump over this to show you have capability."

Child A went first. Child B was unable and so he practised again [and again] when in no time able to jump over two benches and child A was unable.

Child B has the competitive spirit!


in modern Chinese means orange.  However, from the context we know this isn't the case.  I don't know if it is equivalent to .  It could be also a misprint.  However, my research, the Korean pronunciation of this character is either "jeung" or "deung".  The second pronunciation is closer to "deng" in Mandarin and "dang3" in Cantonese.  In any case, I do not know how Koreans treat this character to ascertain the book has a misprint.

From a Korean reader (,

" has two meanings: one is Chinese bitter orange(or Chinese bitter orange tree), and the other is chair. We can assume that the second meaning is from "chair made of the tree." And the Korean pronunciation of this character is 'deung'. It may helps."

Lesson 150

一兒抱小犬   one child carried small dog
戲剪其耳       playfully cut its ear
犬狂叫            dog madly howled
兄聞之            elder_brother heard it
持剪向兒曰    hold scissors towards child said,
犬無能為子侮  dog no ability for you humiliate/ridicule/insult
子無能               you no ability
卽侮於人           thus humiliate from man
請以子耳誡之  please with you ear admonish/warning it
兒大悔悟          child big regret comprehend

One child was carrying a dog.  Playfully he cut its ears.  The dog howled.  When the elder brother heard it, he held the scissors towards the child and said,

"The dog has no ability and so was ridiculed by you.  Since you have no ability, you shall be [likewise] be humiliated by others.  Please let your ears be the warning."

The child [then] regretted/repented through [this] enlightenment/understanding.