Classical Chinese: 與 / 乎

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Skatinginbc, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    A member posted a question regarding the interchangeability between 與 vs 乎as interrogative particles in Old Chinese. The original post is unfortunately lost due to "serious problems" the Wordreference Forums had earlier on Monday. Here is my response:

    Just as and are different in modern Mandarin, so are 與 and 乎 in Old Chinese. Their respective linguistic environments are as follows:
    1. 乎 (*wa in Old Chinese, also written *wa) is a post-verbial interrogative particle. It follows a verb or an adjective (Note: In Old Chinese, there is no clear-cut between verbs and adjectives. We may consider them as a single word class). For instance, 論語:「為人謀而不忠乎?與朋友交而不信乎? 傳不習乎?」呂氏春秋:「然則先王聖于?忠,信,and 聖 belong to the "verb" class (including adjectives as well), and therefore () is the appropriate interrogative particle.
    2. 與 (*lha in Old Chinese, also written 歟 *lha) is usually a post-nominal interrogative particle and in complementary distribution with 乎. For instance, 《史記》: 子非三閭大夫歟? 柳宗元《梓人傳》: 能者用而智者謀,彼其智者歟?大夫 and 智者 are noun phrases and therefore 歟 (與) is the correct particle. There are situations however where the noun phrase is implied but not explicitly stated. For instance, 孟子告子: 為是其智弗若Conventionally, it is taken as 為是其智弗若[FONT=MingLiU]前[/FONT]and translated as "能说这是他的聪明才智不如前一个人吗" So 與 is used because of the implied noun phrase [FONT=MingLiU]前[/FONT]者 ( 前一个人).

    The above is only a rule of thumb applied to only Old Chinese. Since the Han Dynasty, people started to replace
    與 with 乎. And eventually we have sentences like 宋. 蘇軾: 之乎 . is a pronoun and would have gone with in Old Chinese.

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  2. lyx1692

    lyx1692 Senior Member

  3. Pierre_zane Member

    Skatinginbc is really an expert! I've learned a lot from your post. But also some question resulting from this:
    It seems 乎 can also be used after nous, as shown in the quotation below:
    According to 汉典, 与\欤 is used to express exclamation, pose questions/rhetoric questions. Therefore it can well be replaced by 乎 in all context, but not vice versa, as I see it.
  4. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Indeed, the picture becomes far more complex if we include rhetoric questions and exclamations (e.g., 贤人乎). 乎 as an exclamation roughly corresponds to 啊 and is to imitate the sound when one finally gives out a breath that can no longer be held back 象氣之舒. In early Old Chinese (e.g, 诗经), it is usually in disyllabic exclamations (e.g., 呜虖, 嗟乎, 于嗟 *wa ciaj, which sounds so much like ). As far as interrogative particles in Old Chinese (上古漢語/先秦漢語) are concerned, /歟 is usually used for true questions (in contrast to , which is used for rhetoric/retorting questions or exclamations), whereas 乎 are equally found in retorting questions as well as in true questions (

    The interrogative 乎 (/虖) seems to be closely associated with its function as a verbial suffix (后缀, 嵌在动词或形容词后面), for instance, 不在乎,越于诸侯. This function is to some degree similar though not identical to modern 了 (e.g., 我吃了饭), which is also attached to a verb/adjective. The interrogative 乎 roughly corresponds to 了, for instance,有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?有朋友從遠來,不快樂? It has a stronger retorting flavor than /歟 ("a final particle used to express admiration, doubt, surprise, or to mark a question" according to 汉典), which roughly corresponds to in a rhetoric question expressing guess, doubt or uncertainly. For instance, 道不行,乘桴浮于海,从我者,其由与?! (如果我的主张行不通,我就乘上木筏子到海外去。能跟从我的大概只有仲由吧?!).

    I admit that the rule I gave in my original post is oversimplified. That's why I emphasized it is "only a rule of thumb applied to only Old Chinese".
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013

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