Ancient China Message Board

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Ancient China Message Board

Redigerat: aug 13, 2008, 3:59 pm

Links of possible interest:

for e-texts of ancient Chinese:

Classical Chinese Texts

a miscellany of stuff about ancient China:

China the Beautiful.

The second site also has many ancient Chinese e-texts.

jul 29, 2006, 10:05 pm

Some who would naturally be interested in some aspect of ancient China may be put off by the prospect of political controversy. I'm not into that. My own approach is best described as curiosity mingled with awe. Curiosity means I want to know what it was really like, to the best of our ability to investigate that with all the intellectual tools at our disposal, scientific, literary, psychological and yes, political. What it was really like means hold the spin, give me the facts regardless of whose claims they support.

Awe means just that. I don't see how China can inspire any other feeling in anyone who takes a close look at what has been made by billions of human lives over thousands and thousands of years working in a dense cultural continuity.

Awe is not sentimentality. I like Mencken's definition: sentimentality is the habit of mind that assumes that since a rose is prettier than a cabbage it must make better soup than a cabbage. Ancient China had roses and cabbages and poison ivy. But which books accurately reflect each of those and which are good guides to sorting them out?

All comments welcome.

Redigerat: dec 20, 2006, 5:31 pm

What is this group about?

LT is about books. It is for bookish people. I started this group as a place for LT-ers to comment on books about ancient China. I mean "comment" in the most general sense, certainly including literary appreciation, but in particular I have in mind the immense potential of traditional China as a source of all kinds of information that is now only very lightly tapped. You don't have to be able to read Chinese or to be any kind of expert in an academic field in order to draw on that source--but you certainly can use help.

What will come of this? Tim is working to develop these groups from simple bulletin boards to full-featured forums. Not every result of that development will be good. We can anticipate trolls, spam, OT bloviating/self-promotion and flame wars. I think if we pay some attention now to what we hope to accomplish here we may be able to minimize those things.

LT gives the creators of groups certain limited powers: to close the group to non-members, to limit the membership and to abolish the group. I have no intention of ever doing any of those things. So far as I can tell, I lack the power to delete or edit your messages. If that ever becomes necessary, I'm outta here. That's not my bag. I hope we will evolve into something like a folksonomy.


aug 1, 2006, 3:09 pm

Cataloging books in Chinese:

Today I entered two books to see what would happen. They are 十韵彚編 and 新譯文心雕龍. You can see the results at my catalog. The Chinese-language entries are displayed properly but they are not alphabetized properly (ie not in radical order). The new entries are included in my book total, which went up from 1,037 to 1,039, but they are not counted as separate books and cannot be found by the search function. I will wait until these problems are addressed before entering any more Chinese books in my catalog.

aug 1, 2006, 4:03 pm


I found a workaround that allows the indexer to see books with Chinese-language titles and find them in searches. Prefixe the letter "C" to the Chinese title, so that 十韵彚編 becomes C十韵彚編. I don't see why the same trick wouldn't work for authors' names also. So any Chinese books I get time to catalog from now will appear at the beginning of the "C" section of my catalog.

aug 1, 2006, 10:27 pm

Greetings. My ancient China street cred is less good than, say, my ancient India street cred, but I definitely count Chuang-tzu and, to some extent, Lin-chi(1), as among my favorite writers, and at one time I had a little background knowledge related to my study of them and related thinkers.

(1) Or, if you prefer, Zhuangzi and Linji (right?). Speaking of which, do people have preferences about transliteration schemes (for those of us who are not savvy about Chinese characters)? Wade-giles, pinyin -- I know there are others.

Redigerat: dec 20, 2006, 5:35 pm

How to romanize Chinese:

For the mixed membership I hope this forum will attract, my suggestion is catch as catch can. That is, don't worry about spelling; the important thing is to make clear what word or name you mean.

Chinese isn't one language. It's a whole family of languages, like Indo-European. A thousand or more years ago, none of the modern Chinese languages had evolved yet.

Most writers in European languages romanize the Chinese words they cite in Mandarin, regardless of how the writer they are quoting might have originally pronounced them. But in reading about ancient China you can find many systems used for that. Besides Wade-Giles (in more than one form) and pinyin you can find GR tone spelling, the German missionary system Karlgren used, the English missionary system Legge used in translating the Book of Rites and a dozen ad hoc romanizations taken from more than one modern Chinese language.

If people don't know who you're talking about, they'll ask (I hope).

8tianyi Första inlägget
Redigerat: sep 2, 2006, 1:50 pm

"Ancient China had roses and cabbages and poison ivy. But which books accurately reflect each of those and which are good guides to sorting them out?"

I like Spence's approach in the Death of Woman Wang although it's not 'Ancient China', being set in the Qing Dynasty. Its an imaginative narrative approach, elaborating on the records of a local magistrate to describe the lives of ordinary people in the 18th century.

Although I haven't read it, apparently Ray Huang's 1587, A Year of No Significance displays a similar contextual, narrative approach.

These 'daily life' narratives are one way of forcing yourself to to consider the complete historical and social context of a period.

It's one of my pet peeves that the more ancient Chinese philosophical texts are treated as timeless.
An interesting book going against the grain is The Tao of the Tao Te Ching, in which Michael LaFargue tries to imagine what the Dao De Jing meant to the community that created it.

Obviously, the further back you go the mistier things get.

Redigerat: sep 22, 2006, 4:46 am

I had a huge post and it disappeared! Oh well, suffice it to say that this group looks very interesting to me, although I'll probably be learning more than I can contribute for a while.

The only 'ancient' China books I have on my shelves are two or three Asian history texts and The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian (an abridged version translated by Burton Watson).

Thanks for the links and cataloging information, Fogies. Wish I could read the first two, but my Chinese language skills are still pre kindergarten.

nov 6, 2006, 6:26 pm

Does anybody here know a good online source for purchasing Chinese books in the US? The bilingual series being put out by the Foreign Languages Press is really interesting, but the copies I've found at:

are going at $27/volume.

This is daylight robbery, since I bought one of these in Beijing a few months ago, and looking at the back, the price I paid was 70 RMB. That's about eight dollars.

In general, I'd really appreciate information about websites with a good selection of Chinese literature targeted for an English speaking audience. I already have sources for Chinese texts.

nov 7, 2006, 1:34 am

One source I've found is China Sprout ( They are primarily for children, but they also have a pretty good selection of literature and classics. Some of the classics (and children's books) are bilingual: English/simplified Chinese (though they are the pricier editions). For example, English only paperback "Three Kingdoms" (4 Books) is $39.95 That's about $10 a book and they are over 500 pages each, on average. Take a look.

It's a good site all around for things Chinese.

nov 7, 2006, 2:39 am

I look forward to how this conversation develops.

While I've gained much from some serious academic writings on Ancient China, I also enjoy historical fiction set in China. For example, I've enjoyed several of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee murder mysteries set in the Tang dynasty.

nov 9, 2006, 3:52 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, they are pricey, although the prices seem somewhat lower than ChinaGuide.

I think it would just be easier to buy the books in Shenzhen, but if I finish my current batch before I have the chance to go there, I might order for them.

I hear that the bookstores in San Francisco's Chinatown that sell the bilingual texts for about the same price (not $100, but $40). That might not help many of you, though.

dec 18, 2006, 8:12 am

I recommend Judge Dee for the day to day details of Chinese life such as using a piece of oiled paper for a cover when it rains. I have every title and have learned a lot while reading very interesting mysteries.

dec 18, 2006, 12:03 pm

Can you recommend a Judge Dee to start with if one is totally unfamiliar with China?

dec 18, 2006, 12:32 pm

The Dover editions are quite cheap and not hard to find used, either. Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee on ABE for USD 1.

Redigerat: dec 20, 2006, 5:40 pm

>15 Morphidae: Morphidae The Fogies wish they could help you more, but many of our books are temporarily difficult for us to get at. One thing a newbie wants to keep in mind about the Judge Dee mysteries is that they are in effect a series involving the same set of characters, the judge and his assistants. Now those assistants were not present when Dee began his career. They are actually criminals he encountered on the job, whom his personal integrity converted to virtuous lives (that's one of the core principles of Confucianism). So you may want to sort out the chronological order of the stories, which we don't think is the same as the order of publication. Also, the first Chinese detective novel van Gulik wrote was based on a real one (this was a popular genre in the Ming dynasty), whereas all his others are purely his creation. What was that first one, anyone? Was it Willow Pattern? And we can't even remember if it involved Judge Dee or not, but all the others assuredly do. You'll probably come to like the guy, even though he is an awful stiff. His assistants are still the raffish crew they used to be, only now their roguery is in the service of the state, and they have fun doing it.

Another peculiarity is that they follow the pattern of their original quite closely, so that each involves three distinct mysteries which turn out in the end to be related, and the society described, though stated to be of the Tang dynasty, really more resembles that of the Ming dynasty when van Gulik's models were written.

Enjoy! They're terrific reads.

dec 19, 2006, 7:42 am

>17 Fogies: Fogies,

Thanks! I love backround information on books I'm reading.

Redigerat: dec 24, 2006, 10:58 am

Why cut off this group's focus at AD 1000?

The meme of the hockey-stick curve has been used in discussing global warming. We think a hockey-stick curve is a good metaphor to apply to three periods of Chinese history. (We're strictly amateur historians, so don't take this as gospel.) For some millennia before about 2000 BC the "nuclear area" of China held only unwalled farm villages. When the introduction of chariots and compound bows revolutionized warfare, walled towns became necessary, and warrior-dominated city-states developed rapidly. This urbanization and stratification was a drastic change in contrast to the slow development preceding it.

The improvement of iron metallurgy, the advance in hydraulic engineering, the incorporation of the Yangtze valley cultures and the consolidation of political control were more changes that ensued, but none of them, it seems to us, were as great or as rapid as that initial urbanization. We see another gradual development from that rapid change to sometime before AD 1000. To us it seems the pace of innovation, both home-grown and imported, began to rise with the Sui-Tang reunification. Changes like the introduction of printing, the use of paper money, the lowering of the status of military officers (leading, arguably, to the first-ever conquest of all of China by foreigners) and other developments that members of this group can surely suggest, prompt us to believe that by time the Song dynasty was firmly established, the roots planted earlier were sprouting into a significantly different, newer China that continued to develop until the Opium War and its aftermath brought a third hockey-stick point.

So, when you adduce something that's after our cut-off date, we'd like to ask you to please connect it, if you can, with something that is within the era we want to focus on. Thanks!

PS If anyone has an argument against this simple hockey-stick model, by all means let's hear it. Start a new topic.

jan 2, 2007, 6:43 pm

Princeton project 3D recreation of Wu Family Shrine. Almost as good as being there.

Redigerat: feb 17, 2007, 1:02 am

If anyone wants to know how to add images to text, I'd be happy to give you explicit instructions. You can see read two messages on my profile page from a librarythinger named Clare regarding the code you need to cut and paste. Not difficult to do.

Redigerat: feb 17, 2007, 12:30 am


I'm stumped. First, I should say that I've never been a particular fan of jade but from first impressions and from then consulting several jade catalogues, I would say that based on either of the designs it is perhaps Western Zhou.

I spent four years working at a Chinese art museum with a large jade collection, and I never heard or saw reference to "heaven" and "earth" faces--although I can see how this description of them based on circular (heavenly) and square (earthly) patterns arose. Also, none of my catalogues--in either Chinese or English show pre-Han jades with different front and back designs. All of the post-Han pieces I've seen are much more complex than this one.

So, thank you Belle. Although I haven't been able to help you, you have increased my knowledge of jade this evening.

Redigerat: feb 17, 2007, 1:00 am

Yes, it could be Zhou. Thanks, liao. I was hoping you'd weigh in. I moved the images to another thread: the fractions of gold, fragments of jade. And it could be neolithic, couldn't it? I've seen images of a neolithic piece with similar swirl markings in an art book. It owns me for my time on earth. I often wonder who it will come to possess when I am dead. Yah, I know, you love the bronzes. I do too. The archaic objects are so forceful and generous in design. I don't like the overworked jade of the later dynasties. I've been reading about the "heshi jade" that the king of qin wanted to wrest away from the king of Zhao. He wanted to exchange 15 cities for that prized "bi." I'll post that story later in the above thread.

Won't you PLEASE tell the group more about your 4 years working in a Chinese jade museum? It soundsAabsolutely fascinating!

feb 17, 2007, 1:12 am

P.S.--Liao, I call it earth and heaven--I don't know if anyone else does. Also, any particular reason you don't like jade? I don't like burmese green jade or fancifully carved pieces, but the simple nephrites feel like human skin to the touch and seem to breathe. The thought of these stones tumbling down mountains streams from regions high above Khotan sends my imagination awhirl ;-)

mar 8, 2007, 10:52 am

Belleyang 妹, i must confess to liking neither jade nor cameo and think it is because of my aversion to plastic and that had i been born a hundred years earlier i might have liked it.

i'd rather trade the 25 cities for an earthenware teapot or, to go to another extreme, a humorous netsuke.

ah, but breathing rocks -- you must read john muir's sierra nevada , i think that is where he even has blood coursing through their veins. 敬愚

mar 8, 2007, 11:33 am

>25 keigu: "breathing rocks"? 呼吸する岩?

Go ahead, clue us non-poets in.

mar 15, 2007, 12:29 pm

Speaking of taste and rocks, now I'm curious what we think about Scholar's Rocks / 供石 / 雅石 / 水石(すいせき) / 松美壽石 (송미수석), which come from nature but are the epitome of artifice.

mar 15, 2007, 4:17 pm

Where are the Fogies? I hope they are both in good health and will return soon.

mar 16, 2007, 12:45 pm

Sorry, MMcM, i cannot speak for belleyang's "simple nephrites" but i had to speak for john muir's rocks with a heart (for how else could blood circulate through their veins?) once, as a japanese translator did not try to do muir justice as she was so turned off by the anthropomorphism -- so i added a preface to muir explaining how he walked the backbone of mountains from canada to mexico (i may exaggerate, here, for my memory is not good) and really did feel affection for the nature he spent so much time with alone, etc...
Belle Yang, for Jade i do admit to feeling something for some well-rounded Olmec pieces -- those subtle faces somewhat like Noh masks. I have seen some chinese stuff i liked in a book i got from a trashpile, but the mold was so bad i had to throw it out = does anyone know a website with a good collection? (such as Kerr's collection of middle american work.)
MMcM on those rocks, i bet 南方熊楠 minakata kumagusu wrote something . . . Also, i wonder if you have time to read my next two bks before i finish them -- one on composite translation, paraversing and distilling prose (A Dolphin in the Woods, In the Floods a Boar) and one on the senryu blyth could not print and more recent scholars afraind of pc will not print (i have two titles = it's one thing oi want to bounce off readers)? Also, i see you include korean: if there is no forum for chapki 雑記、why not start one?

Redigerat: apr 14, 2007, 11:01 pm

>28 belleyang: Me too.

>29 keigu:

I have Fly-ku! near the front of the to-be-read queue. Let me see how that clicks.
I'm intrigued by new ideas in translation, particularly post-McLuhan ways of getting past all the old tradeoffs: source-centered / target-centered, verbum pro verbo / sensus pro sensu, αὐτὸν / ἑτερον (ultimately The Sophist; almost 同異, to try to keep things on-topic), etc. Everything that led to The Victorian Age in Literature's famous quip (about The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam), “But it is quite clear that Fitzgerald's work is much too good to be a good translation.” That's a pretty fair characterization of Ezra Pound too, I guess.
Censored haiku also sounds interesting. Like so many English speakers, I still haven't got it to click, due to overexposure at a tender age to bad English haiku and treacly translations of mediocre Japanese ones. I can see a glimmer in better anthologies like Classic Haiku: A Master's Selection (maybe because Miura is primarily an Anglo-Irish scholar; IIRC it has Issa's fly in the Summer chapter), and am hoping for more with a little digging.

I'm not really qualified to contribute to a chapki topic, though I'd probably read it. I even get lost in that glacially slow 주몽 drama that runs on AZN. You seem to be the only one with A Korean Storyteller's Miscellany : The P'Aegwan Chapki of Ŏ Sukkwŏn. I remember a good review of it someplace, which your own review seems to confirm. I've never seen it in a bookstore, which is often the key. But they appear to have it at the BPL, so I'll have to have a look.

To try to keep on track and give my own answer to my query, we have some Lingbi and Taihu stones, one of which is of good size. But far from an austere scholar's study, they're mostly in the formal dining room with Victorian furniture and corresponding horror vacui aesthetic: a life-sized marble 觀音; sculpture by Nicholas Mukomberanwa, one of Zimbabwe's first generation masters; a Gandhāran bodhisattva; قاجار tiles; 大小; modern Vietnamese Lacquer Painting; and books of course. We've also got a smallish one of those Olmec effigy face axe-heads with a design similar to the larger jade masks I think you're talking about. (They just found where the blue jade comes from. A hurricane exposed the ancient quarry and all of a sudden new work in it was turning up in the marketplace.) If you're getting a picture of hopeless clutter, like my library and my posts here, that's really not far off.

mar 20, 2007, 10:10 am

Mentioning Pound.

There is one serious mis-explanation of a haiku in Fly-ku! -- the translation of the ku might have slipped by without it! -- and it was discovered by the scholar I consider the top-reader of Japanese in the USA, LC. Discussing Cherry Blossom Epiphany with a fan, he concluded a long discussion like this:

> It was bad old Ezra Pound, acknowledging his heavy debt to haiku in
> translation, who affirmed that the first rule of poetry was "Make it
> new." This is something Gill has done more effectively, as far as
> remaking haiku in English goes, than anyone else around.

Yet FK and CBE are not even among the top MILLION sellers at Amazon! The latter will get some exposure at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Cherry Blossom Festival (though i will still be stuck in the backwoods of florida).

ah, i got the miscellany when i was an acquisitions editor -- a perk of the job -- i want more chapki in translation so much i may start a group to try to get people who can read korean interested -- we need groups to help gather material to make the books we want to read --

it was censored senryu, not haiku! and would you take a read?
"A Dolphin In the Woods, In the Floods a Boar -- composite translation, paraversing and prose distillation" which is more or less finished but might benefit from some cuts and is unsettled as to the best order of the chapters, could use a reader immediately. I have no money for readers, but if they are helpful in anyway, they do get a mention and if very helpful a free book . . .

Redigerat: mar 20, 2007, 11:18 am

Oh, sorry, I was using "haiku" in the informal English sense of the word, as short Japanese poetry with certain numbers of moras, and not distinguishing 発句 / 俳句 / 川柳 / ...

I'm disappointed to report that even The Grolier Book Shop didn't stock any of AYSS / FK / CBE on its "haiku" shelf. Mostly, that's a sign of the times. In the old days, it would be just the sort of thing they would go for. But now even they have succumbed to the idea of keeping the fast movers and leaving the long tail for the online vendors. Shame too.

Best Pound ku-like poem, what do you think? The Imagist In a Station of the Metro?
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

mar 24, 2007, 11:36 am

One reader did suggest Arise rather than Rise for the first word in RYSS! ↑You did it unconsciously!I will check the bk shop, if it is online and has no "shelf" it could have paraverse press books, but most bookstores will not want books that are "no return" (i have no money and one favorable but misguided review in mass media that interests the wrong bookstores -- ones without readers who could read what i write -- would be the end of my publishing) and have a low discount rate. Most large places can order it from lightning source (the printer) via the top distributors.

Re Pound, image and metaphor (the direction common in Osian nature to human) but neither haiku nor senryu. Do not know if itis his best, only know it is often cited. Since i find petals on a dark bough beautiful -- i have concrete images -- it does not mesh with apparition of faces in a crowd but i find his stop-motion interesting (i would see hana-ikada, which is to say rafts of petals -- The Pound i most appreciate is the Book of Songs.

Redigerat: maj 12, 2007, 3:54 pm

Does anyone have this new book below? It's just pubbed and first of a series. If so, do you know if it includes Hanzi? It's supposed to be the new "gold standard" in Chinese history.

The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)
by Mark Edward Lewis (Author), Timothy Brook (Editor)

Oh, I see that our group member jcbrunner has written a fine review!

My Cambridge History of Ancient China just arrived by USPS, and I can hardly keep from jumping up and down :)

jun 30, 2007, 11:04 pm

Hi, this doesn't belong here, but it is about China. My "Washington Post Book World" comics for the ongoing series, "The Writing Life," came out in time for the Fourth of July. Marie Arana, the editor, wrote a profile. Cut and paste the link below to read the piece. (Marie is the highly respected author of "American Chica"):

When you get there, click "Against Forgetting," and you'll get the image below. I was asked to do this in color, but I wanted to use pure b&w to depict the Tiananmen Massacre.

jul 1, 2007, 4:12 am

Nice work, Belle; both the art and the narrative.

Redigerat: jul 1, 2007, 12:28 pm

The fogies are alive and well, guys! (Pechmerle, McMM, Mvrdrk, Keigu had inquired). A big relief.

This posted on thefogies' profile page:


Thanks for your inquiries. We're all right, just swamped with work. Posting will be light to nil before maybe October.

They left this message on my profile page:

"All OK here but 30-hr workdays for both of us leave no time for anything else. Even the cat is complaining. Maybe by October..."

jul 1, 2007, 2:13 pm

Oh good! I'm glad to hear they're all right!

jul 1, 2007, 2:26 pm

That is welcome news.

And brava on the WP piece, too.

Redigerat: jul 1, 2007, 5:36 pm

>39 MMcM: Thank you, MMcM and Pechmerle. Deeply appreciated.

In the PBS documentary, "My Name is Belle," the film makers used lots of perfectly-framed shots from Tiananmen Massacre, taken by a friend of mine. I took roles of film out and had them developed in Hong Kong then took them back inside where I showed them to people who didn't believe the massacre really happened. People like the Chilean ambassador under Pinochet who didn't venture outside his own compound. I can't go back to China.

Hong Kong was turned over to China 10 years today! Protestors demanding full democracy and Hu Jingtao slipped away before demonstrations began.

okt 6, 2007, 3:21 pm

Teaching Company lecture series, From Yao to Mao, on sale until 11/1/07

okt 18, 2007, 2:54 pm

Back at LT after a few months hiatus finishing a book which has something interesting about the way it is being published: -- if you wish to peek at what will not be on sale for a couple weeks. Glad to see the Fogies are back. As they bowed out about the same time i came in, i superstitiously wondered if i might be the cause! And your cartoon. Belle, your bravery carrying truth back and forth is admirable and I hope the day will come when the PRC respects the people enough to admire what you did so you can go back. i missed the pbs documentary -- which i told others to watch -- but i am sure i will see it some day . . .

jan 13, 2008, 7:10 pm

5000 years of Chinese History: From Yao to Mao, is again on sale, at the Teaching Company, until January 24th:

jun 2, 2008, 2:47 am

Hi, this is a post and a link to a link for a review of "Beijing Coma" I wrote for the Washington Post. Beijing Coma is a masterpiece by the dissident exile, Ma Jian. It's been reviewed in major papers and will inevitably be banned in the PRC. The beginning is a bit slow, but the book gathers momentum for a knockout punch.

jul 14, 2008, 12:32 am

Reith Lectures with Dr. Jonathan Spence:

jul 15, 2008, 11:25 pm

The 4 lectures were excellent. Don't miss it. B

Redigerat: jul 30, 2008, 10:37 am


You asked Is there any truth to the thinking that the Chinese are more "Right Brained" and Westerners, who use the alphabet more Left Brain" oriented?

Our short answer was no, but you wanted more detail. We haven't time to say more than that just about all experienced readers with a good command of the language they are reading employ strikingly similar perceptive stratgies regardless of the script, so alphabets are no more "linear" than Chinese graphs.

In another group the admirable MMcM posted a link to LanguageHat's blog with a discussion of a phenomenon that is directly related to this question. Read that post and the comments and think about similar things related to Chinese as you follow their argument. The equivalent of what they're talking about would be baizi, kuangcao and other ways of distorting the text.

It's here:

jul 30, 2008, 10:34 pm

Thank you. B

aug 13, 2008, 12:00 am

Belle & Fogies,

I treat Tsunoda's claim re The Japanese Brain -- also lang. related and putting more language in the right brain for those who learned Japanese while children -- in a more complex fashion than the usual in Orientalism & Occidentalism (2004) and was curious to see what was being claimed re Chinese.

Alas, the Language hat link above did not work, so I do not know what is going on with claims related to Chinese and the brain, though I can see how were I Chinese that I would be tempted to make a claim for right-brain stimulation in order to counter claims that the time spent memorizing characters ruins creativity (call it argument using right brain stereotypes).

OSU's Prof Unger's bks might be good to flesh out the Fogies' first paragraph.

I know little re Chinese, but much old Japanese literature depended on the eye more than any English lit I know of except for Joyce whose spelling must be seen to catch many of the puns. In the poems I am now translating, diacritical marks are left off phonetic letters that may be pronounced with or without them for puns that die in speech as one or the other pronunciation must be chosen. I suppose such would still be linear -- if a railroad track is ...


aug 13, 2008, 8:32 am


That link used to work. Here's the LT thread we got it from.

The topic is Cna yuo raed tihs? in the group Language.

aug 13, 2008, 12:00 pm

The link got truncated. it probably happened when they were fixing long links so they wouldn't break the display. The links in message 1 got truncated, too, and I keep wishing they would work. Here's the corrected link for languagehat:

Redigerat: aug 13, 2008, 4:02 pm

>51 mvrdrk: Oh, dear, and we did promise to maintain those links, too.

They're updated now; go get 'em.

Redigerat: dec 10, 2008, 3:16 pm

There is a new edition of Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes with lots more goodies than the previous one.

Redigerat: jul 28, 2009, 1:15 pm

The last edition of Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes to be issued in traditional book form is now up. Only volume 1 has been modified.

Redigerat: aug 2, 2009, 2:56 am


(Any linguist who quotes Hyman Kaplan gets extra credit.)

jan 9, 2010, 3:08 pm

Will you let us know when it's available in print? I'm afraid my printer can't handle some of the characters and it's always nice to have a bound volume for the bus ride.

Redigerat: jan 10, 2010, 10:41 am

>56 mvrdrk: It's not your printer. PDF files with embedded fonts should print identically on all printers. The problem is to make sure the right fonts get embedded.
That wasn't done because of careless proofreading. The errors are being corrected.
The corrected issue of the last print edition, with a couple dozen more pages of citations, will be up on Jerry's website in a few days.

jan 11, 2010, 12:33 pm

>56 mvrdrk: OK, it's up now. Still plenty of typos, but many of the grossest ones are gone.

jul 4, 2010, 9:27 pm

Have been waiting for a book on the Wei Jin Nan Bei Chao or Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties.

Last year Harvard's Belknap Press published CHINA BETWEEN EMPIRES: THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN DYNASTIES by Mark Edward Lewis.

Just received the book yesterday and so far it's smooth writing.

This may be the first book about this period of disunity. Cambridge has yet to come out with theirs.

jul 6, 2010, 8:26 am

#59 Belle -

The dynastic histories of that period make very interesting reading in the original Chinese. Bit of work, but well worth it.

sep 24, 2010, 2:48 pm

New edition of Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes with 77 pp more goodies than the previous one.

>56 mvrdrk: There probably won't ever be a printed edition. A publisher contacted us about that possibility some time ago, but it turned out we would have had to replace Archaic Chinese with pinyin for it to be acceptable to them. Do you still have trouble getting it to print properly? If so, give us more detail and we'll see what can be done.

sep 30, 2010, 7:15 pm

I'll pick up the new version and give it a try. It may be that my printer is just too old. Thank you.

okt 2, 2010, 9:44 am

>62 mvrdrk: Have you thought about using a jobbing printshop or copy shop? Most of them can print and bind a paperback from a pdf file.

apr 3, 2011, 5:37 am

new edition of Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes

The dictionary is filling itself out. It's over 760 pp now.

apr 19, 2011, 2:51 am

This book is growing by leaps and bounds!

nov 29, 2011, 3:11 pm

new edition of Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes

This edition, at over 800 pages, is probably the last that wil be displayed in public..

nov 30, 2011, 12:17 pm

Wish i read chinese as well as japanese!

What happened w publishing? Lightningsource could print you if you become a publisher or find one, right -- A year or so ago Lightning Source dropped the 740 pp limit (why 3 of my bks are that length) . That way you can keep it cheap. The catch is all that old font would have to be embedded in a high quality pdf format, say, Adobe pdx1a (i think i got that about right) and i do not know if that is possible. Forget about publishers, the question is whether or not your Adobe can get it into the pdf format Lightning Source can accept. If it can, $150 or so set-up fee is about it and the world will always be able to buy reasonably priced copies of your bk via Amazon etc.. I do not know what sort of printing the publisher you contacted uses, but have you tried directly contacting Adobe (I say that, though it is not always easy to do)? That would be the way to find out once and for all if inexpensive publishing is possible.

Q: would you happen to know when they first made steam-powered toy boats? I am going to try googling that now as they are included in a makura for a province noted for straw (i guess it was burned in the little toys) in an 1840 japanese mad-poem i just read/collected the other day. Am now 2/3 done w research for a collection of mad poems = the bk in english depends on one of the three major anthologies = in japanese as they are really invigorating to read and may help cheer up and inspire japanese to try to pioneer a way out of the mess they (and all of us) are in.


nov 30, 2011, 9:07 pm

>67 keigu: To crib the punch line of an old joke, in the first place it wasn’t meant to be published, in the second place it’s not ready to be published, and in the third place it’s already published in the first place.
I know the value authors place on publishing their work, and I do not by any means want to deprecate that. But please note that this book is not the work of an author; it’s the notes—aides-memoires if you’ll pardon my French—of a reader. It’s only on the web at all because an old friend saw that as a quick and easy way to convey them to a friend of his.
I’ve laid them out as it pleases me just as some people like to draw in ink or paint in water colors. (Check out Fontmonger and see if you don’t find it fascinating.) But even a minute of my time or a penny of my money spent on self-publishing would not advance my work.

dec 1, 2011, 11:12 pm

i was thinking of the least expensive way to share physical copies of it, book-been or book-not-to-be. If that is not the idea, never mind.

Redigerat: dec 30, 2011, 6:15 am

Space Plan From China Broadens Challenge to U.S. - NY Times

okt 7, 2020, 3:36 pm

Hello! Groups that are inactive over 12-18 months are now in danger of getting archived, meaning that posting in them becomes impossible.

Redigerat: okt 13, 2020, 9:18 am

>71 LolaWalser:

Damn! I completely missed that. Personally, that's going to be annoying and a bit problematic.

Should read more carefully. Misread 'groups' as 'threads'.

Must have a shufti at my list of groups, though ...

okt 13, 2020, 12:12 pm

The whole dismal conversation is here:

okt 13, 2020, 8:38 pm

Wow, 2016. Time for a revival.

Slowly reading Sources of Chinese Tradition - up to the chapter on Daoism. Really enjoying it - seem to be a good primer to open up understanding for other stuff.

okt 13, 2020, 8:42 pm

Not entirely on topic, but since when are Librarything threads ever lol.

Webpages I like on Chinese literature (mostly contemporary, I think). Not sure if these websites existed in 2016.