死生以之

Kwunlam

Senior Member
Cantonese, Mandarin, English
How may I translate "這可見他們之提倡西方科學,有一死生以之的精神" into English?

"Their commitment to promote Western science, for which they live and die, is evident here." ??

Many thanks !
 
  • samanthalee

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, English - [Singapore]
    Pardon me if I am wrong. I've made a search on google and it seems that "死生以之" means "置生死于度外".

    The closest English sayings would be "without fear or favour" for a milder case of heroism, and "to sacrifice all" for a larger dose of courage. :D

    Hence I propose:

    "We see evidence that in their fight for the universal acceptance of Western science, they were prepared to sacrifice all, even their lives."

    Hope that helps. :)

    Edited:
    I think I was wrong about "without fear or favour". "Without fear or favour" actually means impartial not heroism. What was I thinking about?! Tsk-tsk.:rolleyes: It must have been due to a lack of coffee. :D
     

    kkmp

    Member
    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    生以之 = 生以之
    置生于度外 = 置生于度外

    As a typical phenomenon in ancient Chinese, "" carries void meaning in the above examples.

    Other examples:

    昼夜勤作伶俜萦苦辛。 (《孔雀东南飞》)
    = 作

    今天下三分,益州疲弊,此诚危急亡之秋也。(《出师表》)

    亡 = 亡

    This also exists in modern Chinese words such as
    , 人, 质, 妻.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    How may I translate "這可見他們之提倡西方科學,有一死生以之的精神" into English?

    "Their commitment to promote Western science, for which they live and die, is evident here." ??

    Many thanks !
    --One can see clearly that they are willing to die for the cause of promoting Western science.
     

    Kwunlam

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Mandarin, English
    Thank you for all your answers. These would help me figure out better how to translate it.

    Pardon me if I am wrong. I've made a search on google and it seems that "死生以之" means "置生死于度外".

    The closest English sayings would be "without fear or favour" for a milder case of heroism, and "to sacrifice all" for a larger dose of courage. :D

    Hence I propose:

    "We see evidence that in their fight for the universal acceptance of Western science, they were prepared to sacrifice all, even their lives."

    Hope that helps. :)
    I actually find a statement online: "苟利社稷,死生以之"(《春秋左傳》). According to a literal interpretation, it seems to mean that one lives and dies for it (or in accordance to it). Yes, when one can live for and die for that particular thing, they are willing to sacrifice everything else. But I would regard this as a derived meaning.


    生以之 = 生以之
    置生于度外 = 置生于度外

    As a typical phenomenon in ancient Chinese, "" carries void meaning in the above examples.

    Other examples:

    昼夜勤作伶俜萦苦辛。 (《孔雀东南飞》)
    = 作

    今天下三分,益州疲弊,此诚危急亡之秋也。(《出师表》)
    亡 = 亡

    This also exists in modern Chinese words such as
    , 人, 质, 妻.
    Thank you for your response and your observations. But I do have some reserves about what you purposed. I do not think "death" carries void meaning here.

    For example, "危急存亡之秋" actually means "生死存亡的緊要關頭", it means "to live OR to die", it does not only mean "to live".


    --One can see clearly that they are willing to die for the cause of promoting Western science.
    Thanks.
     

    kkmp

    Member
    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    Within the domain of ancient Chinese, the meaning of 死生以之 is arguably clear.

    The original quote is:

    子产曰:“何害?苟利社稷,死生以之。”(左传·昭公四年)

    Actually the quote above is a reference to a story in 宣公十三年 (58 years earlier):

    清丘之盟,晋以卫之救陈也讨焉。使人弗去,曰:“罪无所归,将加而师。”孔达曰:“苟利社稷,请以我说。罪我之由。我则为政而亢大国之讨,将以谁任?我则死之。”(左传·宣公十三年)

    十四年春,孔达缢而死。卫人以说于晋而免。(左传·宣公十四年)


    A comparison of the two texts above yields that 死生以之 = 死(以)之 = to die for it. Officer Kong died for his country Wei and saved it from an invasion of Jin.

    Another reason for 死生以之 = 死以之 could be derived from logic. To die for sth means that you trade your whole life for sth. However, there is no way to live for sth since you have nothing to trade.

    Back to the domain of modern Chinese, the meaning of words has evolved. Firstly, we use 生死 rather than 死生。Secondly, 生 carries the opposite meaning of 死. So we have : 置生于度外 (regardless of life or death), 生死相随(from the craddle to the grave).

    In summary:
    1. 死生 = 死 = to die (for).
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.

    BTW: 危急存亡之秋 = 危急亡之秋 = a danger, urgent and fatal state. 危, 急 & 亡 share the same connotation here whereas 存 means completely different and could not co-exsist with the other three characters logically (the function of 存 here is purely for the amusement of eyes).
     

    samanthalee

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, English - [Singapore]
    I found 死生以之 in a passage about a premier who, under the risk of being accused of treason, petitioned for the Dowager Queen to retire from political affair. And so I thought 死生以之 means "to be beyond caring about life and death".

    But from this discussion, I gather that 死生以之 = 為它而死,為它而生;am I correct in my understanding? :confused:
     

    kkmp

    Member
    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    I found 死生以之 in a passage about a premier who, under the risk of being accused of treason, petitioned for the Dowager Queen to retire from political affair. And so I thought 死生以之 means "to be beyond caring about life and death".

    But from this discussion, I gather that 死生以之 = 為它而死,為它而生;am I correct in my understanding? :confused:
    My point is:
    死生: ancient usage, verb, = 死 = to die (for).
    生死: modern usage, noun, = life and/or death.

    There was a mistake on my post yesterday and I corrected it today.
     

    Kwunlam

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Mandarin, English
    Thank for your clarification. But I still have some reserves. In the first place, although the quote is referring to another story, but it does not mean that the two phrases used "死生以之" and "死之" must mean the same.

    Concerning your reasonings, I do not regard them as well justified. These seems to be your own personal claims. However, here is not a philosophy discussion board. So I shall not enter into depths. I do not doubt the phenomen that you propose, I just wonder how far it applies. It is good to notice such a phenomenon, but it does not mean that one must always reduce those words immediately.

    To be precise, I doubt whether the logical reduction is always possible. There would be textual contradictions to such a reductionist view. For example, Zhuangzi's "死生,命也;有其夜旦之常,天也。" These are valid cases where we can interpret as alternatives between death and life, and between nights and days.

    So what I propose is:
    A. Basically, both words are expressing alternatives
    1. 死生 = life and/or death.
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.
    B. But logically speaking, for some cases, we can reduce one alternative into another. But this do not necessarily apply for all cases. It all depends on what the authors intend to express with the same word.





    Within the domain of ancient Chinese, the meaning of 死生以之 is arguably clear.

    The original quote is:

    子产曰:“何害?苟利社稷,死生以之。”(左传·昭公四年)

    Actually the quote above is a reference to a story in 宣公十三年 (58 years earlier):

    清丘之盟,晋以卫之救陈也讨焉。使人弗去,曰:“罪无所归,将加而师。”孔达曰:“苟利社稷,请以我说。罪我之由。我则为政而亢大国之讨,将以谁任?我则死之。”(左传·宣公十三年)

    十四年春,孔达缢而死。卫人以说于晋而免。(左传·宣公十四年)

    A comparison of the two texts above yields that 死生以之 = 死(以)之 = to die for it. Officer Kong died for his country Wei and saved it from an invasion of Jin.

    Another reason for 死生以之 = 死以之 could be derived from logic. To die for sth means that you trade your whole life for sth. However, there is no way to live for sth since you have nothing to trade.

    Back to the domain of modern Chinese, the meaning of words has evolved. Firstly, we use 生死 rather than 死生。Secondly, 生 carries the opposite meaning of 死. So we have : 置生于度外 (regardless of life or death), 生死相随(from the craddle to the grave).

    In summary:
    1. 死生 = 死 = to die (for).
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.

    BTW: 危急存亡之秋 = 危急亡之秋 = a danger, urgent and fatal state. 危, 急 & 亡 share the same connotation here whereas 存 means completely different and could not co-exsist with the other three characters logically (the function of 存 here is purely for the amusement of eyes).
     

    kkmp

    Member
    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    The nitty-gritty of the theory is about reasonable interpretation. In term of 苟利社稷,死生以之, the context is as follows:

    郑子产作丘赋。国人谤之,曰:“其父死于路,己为虿尾。以令于国,国将若之何?”子宽以告。子产曰:“何害?苟利社稷,死生以之。且吾闻为善者不改其度, 故能有济也。民不可逞,度不可改。《诗》曰:‘礼义不愆,何恤于人言。’吾不迁矣。”(昭公四年)

    From the quotes above we see that:

    1. People of Zhen criticized Zichan's tax policy and a death threat was implied.
    2. Zichan answered in a fearless way and vowed to die for his country.

    It occurs quite natural for me that 死 is emphasized more than 生 in this context.

    BTW: Your Zhuangzi example is about noun. Our case is about verb.


    Thank for your clarification. But I still have some reserves. In the first place, although the quote is referring to another story, but it does not mean that the two phrases used "死生以之" and "死之" must mean the same.

    Concerning your reasonings, I do not regard them as well justified. These seems to be your own personal claims. However, here is not a philosophy discussion board. So I shall not enter into depths. I do not doubt the phenomen that you propose, I just wonder how far it applies. It is good to notice such a phenomenon, but it does not mean that one must always reduce those words immediately.

    To be precise, I doubt whether the logical reduction is always possible. There would be textual contradictions to such a reductionist view. For example, Zhuangzi's "死生,命也;有其夜旦之常,天也。" These are valid cases where we can interpret as alternatives between death and life, and between nights and days.

    So what I propose is:
    A. Basically, both words are expressing alternatives
    1. 死生 = life and/or death.
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.
    B. But logically speaking, for some cases, we can reduce one alternative into another. But this do not necessarily apply for all cases. It all depends on what the authors intend to express with the same word.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Thank for your clarification. But I still have some reserves. In the first place, although the quote is referring to another story, but it does not mean that the two phrases used "死生以之" and "死之" must mean the same.

    Concerning your reasonings, I do not regard them as well justified. These seems to be your own personal claims. However, here is not a philosophy discussion board. So I shall not enter into depths. I do not doubt the phenomen that you propose, I just wonder how far it applies. It is good to notice such a phenomenon, but it does not mean that one must always reduce those words immediately.

    To be precise, I doubt whether the logical reduction is always possible. There would be textual contradictions to such a reductionist view. For example, Zhuangzi's "死生,命也;有其夜旦之常,天也。" These are valid cases where we can interpret as alternatives between death and life, and between nights and days.

    So what I propose is:
    A. Basically, both words are expressing alternatives
    1. 死生 = life and/or death.
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.
    B. But logically speaking, for some cases, we can reduce one alternative into another. But this do not necessarily apply for all cases. It all depends on what the authors intend to express with the same word.
    Agreed.

    To me, if something is worth dying for, then it is most likely worth living for.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I don't see the reason why you can live and die for the same thing at the same time :)
    We are not supposed to discuss Philosophy here, so I will respond to it this once.

    How can you die for anything/anyone that you can't live for?
    Parents can die for their kids because they live for them.
    Romeo died for Juliette because he stayed alive for her.

    But again, this is just my own opinion. :)
     

    jiey

    Member
    Chinese dialect
    Within the domain of ancient Chinese, the meaning of 死生以之 is arguably clear.

    The original quote is:

    子产曰:“何害?苟利社稷,死生以之。”(左传·昭公四年)

    Actually the quote above is a reference to a story in 宣公十三年 (58 years earlier):

    清丘之盟,晋以卫之救陈也讨焉。使人弗去,曰:“罪无所归,将加而师。”孔达曰:“苟利社稷,请以我说。罪我之由。我则为政而亢大国之讨,将以谁任?我则死之。”(左传·宣公十三年)

    十四年春,孔达缢而死。卫人以说于晋而免。(左传·宣公十四年)

    A comparison of the two texts above yields that 死生以之 = 死(以)之 = to die for it. Officer Kong died for his country Wei and saved it from an invasion of Jin.

    Another reason for 死生以之 = 死以之 could be derived from logic. To die for sth means that you trade your whole life for sth. However, there is no way to live for sth since you have nothing to trade.

    Back to the domain of modern Chinese, the meaning of words has evolved. Firstly, we use 生死 rather than 死生。Secondly, 生 carries the opposite meaning of 死. So we have : 置生于度外 (regardless of life or death), 生死相随(from the craddle to the grave).

    In summary:
    1. 死生 = 死 = to die (for).
    2. 生死 = life and/or death.

    BTW: 危急存亡之秋 = 危急亡之秋 = a danger, urgent and fatal state. 危, 急 & 亡 share the same connotation here whereas 存 means completely different and could not co-exsist with the other three characters logically (the function of 存 here is purely for the amusement of eyes).
    I will be on kkmp's side if I have to pick out my preference.
    His explanation correspondes to what my Chinese master taught me in high school. Actually you can find this kind of words/ phrases everywhere in ancient Chinese works. Academically they are called “偏意复词”, which literally means one part has no meaning by itself and just exists to support the whole compound word to get a better rhythm(只是陪衬作用,让整个词语更有韵律). you can get some clues here:"3w.bhu.edu.cn/news/jingpin/2004/gudaihy/zixuezhidao/lunwenxuanbian.htm"
    Nevertheless, it also works very well in the other way.
    It is just my 2 cents :)
     

    kkmp

    Member
    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    More 死生 (as noun) in ancient texts.

    It should be noted that the interpretation is highly correlated to the context. Given fixed context, the interpretation is unambivalent.

    死生 = 死 (only)

    呜呼!予之及于者不知其几矣!诋大酋当;骂逆贼当;与贵酋处二十日,争曲直,屡当;去京口,挟匕首以备不测,几自刭;经北舰十余里,为巡船所物色,几从鱼腹;真州逐之城门外,几旁徨;如扬州,过瓜洲扬子桥,竟使遇哨,无不;扬州城下,进退不由,殆例送;坐桂公塘土围中,骑数千过其门,几落贼手;贾家庄几为巡徼所陵迫;夜趋高邮,迷失道,几陷;质明,避哨竹林中,逻者数十骑,几无所救;至高邮,制府檄下,几以捕系;行城子河,出入乱尸中,舟与哨相后先,几邂逅;至海陵,如高沙,常恐无辜;道海安、如皋,凡三百里,北与寇往来其间,无日而非可;至通州,几以不纳;以小舟涉鲸波出,无可奈何,而固付之度外矣!呜呼!死生,昼夜事也,死矣,而境界危恶,层见错出,非人世所堪。痛定思痛,痛何如哉!(指南录后序,文天祥)

    死生 = 死 & 生

    击鼓其镗,踊跃用兵。土国城漕,我独南行。

    从孙子仲,平陈与宋。不我以归,忧心有忡。

    爰居爰处?爰丧其马?于以求之?于林之下。

    死生契阔,与子成说。执子之手,与子偕老。

    于嗟阔兮,不我活兮。于嗟洵兮,不我信兮。

    (诗经·邶风·击鼓)



    胡马大宛名,锋棱瘦骨成。

    竹批双耳峻,风入四蹄轻。

    所向无空阔,真堪托死生

    骁腾有如此,万里可横行。

    (房兵曹胡马,杜甫)
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    I find many 偏意复词 (the term was new to me. Thanks for telling) really offering two alternatives but context makes one relevant and obviates the other.

    Would it be possible to understand the phrase in question as "[As the good for the country dictates] I shall live and die"? I don't feel it necessary to assume 子産 was ready to die to enforce his tax reform. I'd like to understand 死生以之 as his determination to dedicate all of his actions for the good of 鄭國.

    jiey, it looks like you are on the scent of something. Alas, I could not open the link you provided in the post supra. Could you verify the URL?
     

    jiey

    Member
    Chinese dialect
    Thanks for your help to correct the link, Samanthalee..I should have clarified it, but it is not completely my fault to use 3w instead of www in the URL, since a junior member like me don't have the authority to embed a valid link:D

    I would like to say it really doesn't matter to catch the meaning in either way if you are not a professional linguist. To tell the truth, I hated what my Chinese teachers told me about all the complicated/ headachy rules used in ancient Chinese, especially in those endless quizzes and examinations:D.
     
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