4 Lesson 3- 攫金

攫金   (《列子》)

jué jīn (liè zǐ )

昔齊人有欲金者。清旦,衣冠而之市,適鬻金者之所。因攫其金而去。 吏捕得之,問曰:“人皆在焉,子攫人之金何?”對曰:“取金之時,不見人,徒見金。”

昔齐人有欲金者。清旦,衣冠而之市,适鬻金者之所。因攫其金而去。 吏捕得之,问曰:“人皆在焉,子攫人之金何?”对曰:“取金之时,不见人,徒见金。”

Lesson 3 vocabulary

the past, in the past
齊 (齐) (name of a state)
to wish, to desire
qīng clear
dàn dawn; morning;
清旦 qīng dàn early in the morning
guān cap
shì market
適 (适 ) shì to reach
to sell
suǒ place
jüé to snatch, to grab
to leave [transitive &. intransitive]
officer, magistrate
to arrest
to catch, to arrest
zhī him, her, it, them [generalized pronoun object]
問 (问) wèn to ask
zài to be in or at
yān there [fusion word  於 之]
對 (对) duì to reply
to take
時 (时) shí time
見 (见) jiàn to see

列子        liè zǐ

Master Lie was a mythical Daoist sage and magician.  A collection of Daoist wisdom compiled in the Han is named for him.

Commentary to lesson 3:

1.1:  Often nouns can be turned into verbs; in such cases, their tones often change. Hence, 衣 yī (first tone) means “clothes” while衣 yì (fourth tone) means “to wear clothes,” “to put clothes on.”

其 is usually used as a general third-person possessive: “his, her, its, their.” It is also a general demonstrative: “this, that.”

1.2: Note that the use of 之 here as a general third-person pronoun(“him, her, it, them”). You know the three meanings of 之: 1) as the verb “to go;” 2) as a particle indicating possession; 3) as a pronoun. Meaning number one is the most uncommon.

Since 曰 is almost always used to introduce a direct quote (remember classical texts did not have punctuation), it can become monotonous. Classical writers often modify 曰 with other verbs. Strictly speaking, 問曰 means “he asked, saying,” but you may prefer to translate simply as “asked.”

焉 is often used as a “locative object pronoun,” i.e., a pronoun replacing a noun indicating where an action occurred. “There” is usually the best translation.

Grammar Note 2 : More (but not all) about zhě

In lesson 2 we have 耕者 gēng zhě “plow-er” and in lesson 3 鬻金者 yù jīn zhě “sell gold-er”, i.e. “seller of gold”. It might strike you that these expressions seem interchangeable with 耕之人 “person who plows” and 鬻金之人 “person who sells gold.” Moreover the sounds of 之 zhī and 者 zhě seem close to one another . The logical conclusion is that 之 zhī and 者 zhě are related words, 者 zhě being short for之人 zhī rén . Actually, 者 zhě in this sort of usage is a short form of之 zhī plus something, although that something need not be 人 rén. For instance, 觸株者 chù zhū zhě “the stump-bumper”, would not have to stand for 觸株之人 chù zhū zhī rén, “the man who bumps into the stump” but could equally stand for 觸株之兔chù zhū zhī tù “the rabbit that bumps into the stump”. But in any case 者 zhě stands for之 zhī [something], 之 zhī X. A somewhat similar locution is common in Mandarin where 賣書的人 mài shū de rén “person who sells books” shortens into 賣書的mài shū de “bookseller”. But here the de 的 is equivalent to both 之 zhī and 者 zhě – to之 zhī in the longer form and to 者 zhě in the shorter.

All these expressions are built upon verbs, such as gēng 耕 “to plow” yù 鬻 (or 賣) “to sell”, chù 觸 “to knock against”, the verb in some instances being followed by an object such as 金 jīn or 株 zhū. Adding a 之人 zhī rén or 之兔 zhī tù or者 zhě to these verbs or verb-object expressions turns them into noun phrases: “to plow” becomes “plower”, “to sell gold” becomes “gold-seller”. So conventionally we refer to the nominalizing function of之 zhī and 者 zhě, and call 者 zhě a nominalizing pronoun.

(Eventually, though, you will come upon other uses of which do not nominalize and are not pronouns).

ADDITIONAL NOTE on lesson 3: observe, in example吏捕得之 lì bǔ dé zhī, our first instance of之 zhī is in its other main “empty” use, namely, as the third-person “him, her, it, them”. We have already had the third-person attributive or possessive 其 qí “his, her, its, their”. Note that THERE IS NO third-person subject pronoun “he, she, it, they.”



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Introduction to Classical Chinese by Patrick Hanan; David Lattimore; Judith Zeitlin; Margaret Baptist Wan; Anthony George; Xiaofei Tian; Regina Llamas; Hu Hsiao-chen; Liu Lening; Paul Rouzer; Shang Wei; Andrew Schonebaum; and Kong Mei is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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