The Analects, Section I

There doesn’t seem to be any literal translation of the Analects out there that tracks the original grammar, which is annoying. So here I did it, in-text commentary in parentheses. Not a big fan of this text.


Note: The princely scholars, sometimes translated as gentleman-scholars, are more or less the intellectual elite who assign themselves the task of defining morality and leading by example. Here, they have a rambling discussion about the desirable traits of a princely scholar (and therefore the ideal benevolent man), and how such a person participates in managing the masses, who need not understand anything but merely follow along.

1. 子曰:「學而時習之,不亦說乎?有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?人不知而不慍,不亦君子乎?」
Master said: “Learning and fittingly applying it, isn’t that also persuasion? Having comrades from afar be drawn, isn’t that also concordance? Others not understanding yet one not harboring resentment, isn’t that also being a princely scholar [junzi]?”

(To learn and teach through example and action, and to get resonance among peers is the mark of an elite intellectual; whether others get it is not important. Confucius is talking about his own reasons for teaching rather than going on the lobbying circuit, where he was frequently rebuffed.)

2. 有子曰:「其為人也孝弟,而好犯上者,鮮矣;不好犯上,而好作亂者,未之有也。君子務本,本立而道生。孝弟也者,其為仁之本與!」
Master You said: “He who treats others with filial and fraternal piety [xiao, ti], but likes to violate superiors, has been rare; he who doesn’t like to violate superiors, but likes to raise discord, doesn’t yet exist. A princely scholar seeks the basics [ben], if the basics stand then the guidelines [dao] emerge. Filial and fraternal piety, those are the basics of benevolent humanity [ren]!”

(An elite intellectual can derive for himself general moral guidelines from basic principles of family relationship.)

3. 子曰:「巧言令色,鮮矣仁!」
Master said: “Sophistic speech and pandering expression, rarely have been benevolent!”

4. 曾子曰:「吾日三省吾身:爲人謀而不忠乎?與朋友交而不信乎?傳不習乎?」
Master Zeng said: “I daily inspect my being on three things: In advising for others am I undevoted? In associating with comrades and friends am I untrue? Do I preach what I don’t practice?”

5. 子曰:「道千乘之國:敬事而信,節用而愛人,使民以時。」
Master said: “To guide a state of a thousand chariots: Conduct duties with reverence and be true, expend with restraint and be considerate of others, mobilize the masses according to opportunity.”

(Conducting the affairs of a state uses the same guidelines as conducting oneself benevolently.)

6. 子曰:「弟子入則孝,出則弟,謹而信,汎愛眾,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」
Master said: “A disciple should practice filial piety upon entering the home, fraternal piety upon exiting; he should be cautious and true, pour forth consideration for the multitude, and hold benevolence dear. What energy he has to spare from doing these, he should use to learn the classics.”

(Conducting oneself benevolently is about being modest, sincere, considerate.)

7. 子夏曰:「賢賢易色,事父母能竭其力,事君能致其身,與朋友交言而有信。雖曰未學,吾必謂之學矣。」
Disciple Xia said: “The astute talent shifts his outer bearing, in serving his parents he is able to exhaust his energy, in serving his prince he is able to send his life, in associating with comrades and friends he is true to his word. Though he said he has not yet learned, I must call him as learned.”

(Upholding an inner ideal affects outer behavior, and doing this is also a form of learning.)

8. 子曰:「君子不重則不威,學則不固。主忠信。無友不如己者。過則勿憚改。」
Master said: “A princely scholar who is inconsistent would hold no sway; the learning would not be firm. Maintain being devoted [zhong] and true [xin]. There exists no friend unlike oneself. Upon transgression, be not apprehensive about reformation.”

(An elite should be consistent and emphatic in his meritorious behavior, otherwise he could neither learn nor be an example.)

9. 曾子曰:「慎終追遠,民德歸厚矣。」
Master Zeng said: “By attending to funeral rites and recalling ancestors in memorial rites, the virtue of the masses has returned to favorability.”

(Practicing basic familial obligations improves the general moral fiber of the masses.)

10. 子禽問於子貢曰:「夫子至於是邦也,必聞其政,求之與?抑與之與?」子貢曰:「夫子溫、良、恭、儉、讓以得之。夫子之求之也,其諸異乎人之求之與。」
Disciple Qin asking of Disciple Gong, said: “Whichever dominion Sir Master arrives at, he always discovers its governance, does he beg of it? Or is it given to him?” Disciple Gong said: “Sir Master uses gentleness [wen], kindness [liang], piety [gong], reservation [jian], and courtesy [rang] to ascertain it. Those things of Sir Master’s entreaty all differ from those things of the entreaties of others.”

11. 子曰:「父在,觀其志;父沒,觀其行;三年無改於父之道,可謂孝矣。」
Master said: “While one’s father lives, observe one’s will; while one’s father is no more, observe one’s actions; if for three years no changes are made to the guidelines of one’s father, one can call it as having practiced filial piety.”

12. 有子曰:「禮之用,和為貴。先王之道,斯為美。小大由之,有所不行。知和而和,不以禮節之,亦不可行也。」
Master You said: “In the employment of propriety [li], harmony is treated as valuable. In the guidelines of earlier kings, harmony is treated as an ideal. If all things trivial and significant conform to propriety, there exist situations that do not work. Knowing about harmony and being harmonious, without using propriety to regulate it, also cannot work.”

(Propriety is the necessary means for maintaining harmony, which is the essence.)

13. 有子曰:「信近於義,言可復也;恭近於禮,遠恥辱也;因不失其親,亦可宗也。」
Master You said: “If being true approximates fellowship [yi], what is spoken can be reciprocated; if being pious approximates propriety, it is far from shame and disgrace; a cause that does not lose that which it is close to, likewise can be adhered to.”

(Received behaviors that closely match the underlying morality are easy to follow.)

14. 子曰:「君子食無求飽,居無求安,敏於事而慎於言,就有道而正焉,可謂好學也已。」
Master said: “A princely scholar who eats without begging satisfaction, resides without begging contentment, who is keen to duty and attentive to speech, who accommodates to established guidelines and rectifies himself within them, can already call himself as being fond of learning.”

(Somebody who doesn’t ask too much and regulates himself is well socialized.)

15. 子貢曰:「貧而無諂,富而無驕,何如?」子曰:「可也。未若貧而樂,富而好禮者也。」子貢曰:「《詩》云:『如切如磋,如琢如磨。』其斯之謂與?」子曰:「賜也,始可與言詩已矣!告諸往而知來者。」
Disciple Gong said: “Being poor without fawn, being rich without boast, how does this obey?” Master said: “It is fine. But it is not yet as if being poor and concordant, or being rich and fond of propriety.” Disciple Gong said: “The Book of Odes states, ‘The prince is … as cut and filed, as carved and milled.’ Is that what this is called?” Master said: “Ci (Disciple Gong), from the start I could have already mentioned the Book of Odes to you! You are one who knows what comes when told about what goes.”

16. 子曰:「不患人之不己知,患不知人也。」
Master said: “Do not fret about others’ not understanding oneself, fret about not understanding others.”

Partial gloss:
<: etymological derivation
<-: phonetic loan only
=: logographic calque
(cf. ...): related
(vs. ...): unrelated

  • [tsjəʔ] master, firstborn < 子 (崽) [tsəʔ] child, infant
  • [gʷjot] (see )
  • [gruk] imitate, learn < 覺 [kruk] be aware (cf. 斆 [gruks] be imitated, teach)
  • [njə] conjunction moreover, but, so <- 而 [njə] hair
  • [djə] be opportune, be fitting, be seasonable < season < 寺 [zjəs] be regulated + 日 sun < 司 [sjə] regulate
  • [zjup] practice <- 習 [zjup] sound of flapping
  • [tjə] (see )
  • [pjə] verbal prefix not
  • [ljᴀk] likewise, also <- 亦 [ljᴀk] armpit
  • 說 (悦) [hljots] be persuaded < 說 [hljot] explain, persuade < 兌 [lots] appeal, pray + 言 speech
  • [gʷjəʔ] existing, some < exist, have < 又 [gʷjəs] hand + 肉 flesh
  • [bəŋ] comrades, group of people <- 朋 [bəŋ] five shells of money
  • [dzjits] origin, beginning <- 鼻 [bjits] nose
  • [gʷjans] be far < 遠 [gʷjanʔ] get farther <- 袁 [gʷjan] long shirt + 辵 stroll (cf. )
  • [bjaŋ] be on the side, margins, bounds, stricture < 方 [pjaŋ] bound (cf. 方 [pjaŋs] be bounded, square; 旁 [baŋ] be alongside; 房 [baŋ] side room; 舫 [pjaŋs] catamaran; 邊 [pjen] edge)
  • [c-rə] come, be drawn near < 來 (徠) [c-rə] summon <- 來 (麥) [mrək] wheat
  • [g-rawk] be in concord, be reconciled, be harmonious < 樂 [ŋrawks] music, harmony, symphony < 樂 [ŋrawk] concord with, harmonize
  • [trje] understand, know <- 矢 [hljijʔ] arrow + 于 [gʷja] take + 口 mouth (cf. 智 [trjes] be understood, knowledge)
  • [ʔjuns] begrudge, harbor resentment < 溫 (蘊) [ʔjun] accumulate, store up (vs. 昷 (溫) [ʔun] be lukewarm)
  • [kjun] prince, sovereign < 尹 [gʷjinʔ] rule + 口 mouth < 又 [gʷjəs] hand
  • [gjə] demonstrative pronoun that, of that (cf. )
  • [gʷjaj] do, treat, handle < 又 [gʷjəs] hand + 象 elephant (cf. 爲 [gʷjajs] be treated as; 偽 [ŋʷjajs] be false, falsehood)
  • [ljᴀjʔ] be (cf. 矣 [ɦjəʔ] have been)
  • [xrus] be devoted to elders < 老 [c-ruʔ] elder + 子 child
  • 弟 (悌) [dijs] be respectful of seniority < 弟 [dijʔ] junior, younger brother < rank, seniority
  • [xuʔ] be fond of, like = 女 woman + 子 child (cf. 好 [xus] be liked)
  • [bjomʔ] offend, defy < 㔾 [bjomʔ] invade + 犬 dog
  • [tjᴀ] definite pronoun the one (cf. 之 [tjə] the one’s)
  • [sjenʔ] be rare < 鮮 [sjen] be fresh, be raw < a type of fish
  • [ɦjəʔ] (see )
  • [tsak] raise, make, do <- 人 human + 乍 [dzraks] be sudden (cf. 作 [tsaks] arise, be made, be done)
  • [c-rons] discord, confusion, revolt < be disorganized, be tangled
  • [mjəts] not yet < [mjet] do not <- 木 [mok] tree + 屮 [thrjat] sapling
  • 務 (敄) [mjoʔ] seek, strive < 矛 [mju] spear + 攴 [phok] hit + 力 force (cf. 務 [mjoks] important affairs)
  • [pənʔ] be basic < tree root
  • [lus] guideline, pathway, guidance < 道 (導) [luʔ] guide < 首 [hljuʔ] head + 辵 stroll
  • [sreŋ] live, emerge, grow < plant, give birth to
  • [njin] benevolence, humanity < 人 [njin] human
  • 與 (歟) [lj'a] contraction be < 也 [ljᴀjʔ] be + 乎 [ga] exclamation
  • [khruʔ] be cunning < 丂 [khuʔ] withhold + 工 skill
  • [ŋjan] speech < 言 [ŋjan] speak about, discuss, mention < [gʷjən] say
  • [c-rjeŋs] accommodate < 令 [c-rjeŋ] order
  • [srjək] mien, expression, disposition, bearing
  • [ŋa] personal pronoun I (cf. 吾 [ŋra] my, 我 [ŋajʔ] me; vs. 汝 [nja] thou, 汝 [nrja] thy, 爾 [njejʔ] thee)
  • [sreŋʔ] scrutinize = 屮 sapling + 目 eye
  • [hjin] life, being < body
  • [gʷjajs] (see )
  • [mjə] adivise, plan <- 某 [mjəʔ] plum tree + 言 speech
  • [k-ljuŋ] be devoted, be loyal < 中 [k-ljuŋ] center + 心 heart
  • [ljas] be with, be at < 與 [ljaʔ] give, grant
  • [gʷjəʔ] friend < cooperate, aid < 又 [gʷjəs] hand
  • [krew] associate < interleave < 爻 [graw] intersect
  • [snjins] be true < 㐰 [snjins] messenger < 人 [njin] human + 口 mouth
  • [drjon] convey < 專 (轉) [trjon] spin + 人 human < 叀 (塼) [tjon] spindle (cf. 傳 [drjons] conveyance)
  • [Ljəŋs] chariot < 乘 [Ljəŋ] climb onto
  • [kʷək] state, defended territory < 戈 [koj] dagger ax (cf. 域 [gʷrjək] territory)
  • [krjeŋs] be reverent < 敬 (警) [krjeŋʔ] warn < 茍 [kjək] be cautious + 攴 hit (cf. 驚 [krjeŋ] be startled < horse fright)
  • 事 (倳) [tsrjəs] be dutiful < 吏 [c-rjəs] official (cf. 事 [ɦsrjəs] duty; vs. 仕 [dzrjəʔ] serve < 士 [dzrjəʔ] able man)
  • [tsik] constrain < tie < 即 (卪) [tsik] knot + 竹 bamboo
  • [ljoŋs] employ < 中 [k-ljuŋs] be on the mark + 卜 divinate < 中 [k-ljuŋ] center
  • 愛 (㤅) [ʔəts] be considerate of, love <- 旡 [kjəts] hiccup + 心 heart
  • 使 [srjəʔ] mobilize, order < 吏 [c-rjəs] official + 人 human < 又 [gʷjəs] hand
  • [mjin] populace
  • [ljəʔ] use
  • [njup] enter (cf. 内 [nups] be inside)
  • [tsək] conjunction then accordingly < 則 [tsək] convention, law = 刀 knife + 貝 shell
  • [thjut] exit (cf. 出 [thjuts] be outside)
  • [kjənʔ] be cautious < 茍 [kjək] be cautious
  • [bjum] float, pour out < 凡 [bjom] be common + 水 water (cf. 泛 [phjoms] be afloat)
  • [tjuŋs] multitude, be many = 目 eye + 㐺 three people
  • [tshjin] get close, hold dear (cf. 親 [tshjins] be close)
  • [graŋ] carry out < run through < 行 [gaŋ] course, road (cf. 行 [graŋs] action, comportment)
  • [lja] be left over < 余 [lja] shed + 食 food
  • [mjən] literature < writing < 文 (纹) [mjən] marking
  • [gin] be exemplary, be capable, talented man < 賢 [gin] treasurer < 臣 [gjin] minister + 貝 shell of money
  • [ljek] shift, pour (cf. 易 [ljeks] be loose, be easy, flow; 賜 [sljeks] bestow)
  • [nəŋ] be able, be powerful < 能 [nə] beast (cf. 耐 [nəs] endure)
  • [gjat] exhaust < carry on shoulder <- 曷 [gat] what + 立 stand
  • [trjits] deliver < 夊 [trjijʔ] trek + 至 [tjits] arrive
  • [sjuj] conjunction if, although
  • [pjit] verbal prefix always, must
  • [gʷjuts] call < 謂 [gʷjuts] appellation, have been said < 曰 [gʷjot] have said < [gʷjən] say
  • [drjoŋs] be consistent, be redundant, be bulky < 重 [drjoŋ] double over
  • [ʔjuj] overpower, authority = 戌 destroy + 女 woman (cf. 畏 [ʔjujs] be overpowered, awe)
  • [kas] be firm, be solid < 故 [kas] be past, be old < 古 [kaʔ] past
  • [tjoʔ] maintain, preside over < chief
  • [mja] not exist, not have, none < 亡 [mjaŋ] flee
  • [nja] follow, obey <- 女 [nrjaʔ] woman + 口 mouth (cf. 若 [njak] be following, be obedient, as if)
  • [kjəʔ] reflexive pronoun self
  • [kʷajs] trespass, transgress, be past < 過 [kʷaj] pass
  • [mjet] do not < [mja] not exist (cf. 滅 [mjet] finish; 戌 [smjit] destroy)
  • [dans] be apprehensive < 難 [nans] affliction, be afflicted < 難 [nan] afflict
  • [kəʔ] adjustment, reformation <- 己 [kjəʔ] self + 攴 hit
  • [djins] be attentive < 真 (填) [djin] fill up + 心 heart
  • [tjuŋ] ending < 冬 [tuŋ] winter + 糸 thread
  • [trjuj] chase, recall < 堆 [tuj] pile up + 辵 stroll
  • [tək] virtue < rise <- 直 [drjək] be straight + 行 course + 心 heart
  • [kjuj] revert, defect <- 堆 [tuj] pile up + 止 foot + 方 direction
  • [gos] be generous, be rich, be favored < 厚 [goʔ] favor
  • [tjits] arrive
  • [pja] adult man (cf. 父 [pjaʔ] father)
  • [ʔja] preposition at, in, on, to, for, from, by, with < 於 [ʔja] be in, be at < 央 [ʔaŋ] inside
  • [djeʔ] indefinite article some, any, such < 是 (直) [n'tjəʔ] be aligned <- 日 [njit] sun + 十 [ɡəp] ten + 止 [tjəʔ] foot
  • [proŋ] dominion, vassal state < 封 [pjoŋ] confer land to vassal < boundary < 方 [pjaŋ] be alongside
  • [mjun] hear of, sense <- 門 [mun] gate + 耳 ear (cf. 聞 [mjuns] information; 問 [mjuns] ask of)
  • [tjeŋs] governance, administration, politics < 正 (征) [tjeŋ] impose < 止 [tjəʔ] foot
  • [gju] beg, request (cf. 救 [kjus] aid)
  • [ʔjək] conjunction or rather <- 抑 [ʔjək] curb
  • [ʔun] be gentle, be mild < be lukewarm
  • [c-rjaŋ] be kind, be good <- 良 (廊) [c-raŋ] veranda
  • [kjoŋ] be pious, be submissive < 恭 (供) [kjoŋ] offer sacrifice (cf. 貢 (供) [koŋs] be offered for sacrifice, tribute)
  • [grjamʔ] be reserved, be austere < 斂 [c-rjamʔ] retract, collect <- 僉 (劍) [kjams] sword + 攴 hit
  • [njaŋs] be courteous, be yielding < 襄 [snjaŋ] divest + 言 speech
  • [tək] gain = 彳 pace + 貝 shell of money + 又 hand
  • [tjᴀ] contraction all, various < [tjuŋs] multitude
  • [ljəs] be different < 異 [ljə] differ <- 異 [ljəks] helmet
  • [dzəs] be alive < 在 [dzəʔ] live, remain
  • [kon] observe < 雚 (鹳) [kons] heron + 見 [kens] see
  • [tjəs] will, destination < 㞢 [tjə] go + 心 heart
  • 沒 (殁) [mət] be dead < 歾 [mət] die, disappear <- [mjet] do not + 歺 skeleton
  • [khajʔ] be allowed, be fine <- 丂 [khuʔ] withhold + 口 mouth
  • [c-rijʔ] propriety < ritual < 豊 [c-rijʔ] gift, ritual offering + 示 [Ljijs] worship
  • [gojs] harmonious, be matched < 和 [goj] harmonize, coordinate <- 禾 [goj] grain + 口 mouth
  • [kjuts] be valuable
  • [sje] demonstrative pronoun this, of this (cf. [gjə] that, of that)
  • [səns] be earlier, be advanced < 先 [sən] advance = 㞢 go + 人 human
  • [mrjəjʔ] be ideal = 羊 ram + 大 be big (cf. 媄 [mrjəjʔ] be beautiful)
  • [ljiw] conform to, follow (cf. 由 [ljiw] cause)
  • [gjəns] be near < 近 [gjənʔ] get nearer <- 斤 [kjən] fell + 辵 stroll (cf. )
  • 義 (誼) [ŋrjajs] fellowship < 宜 [ŋrjaj] be appropriate for + 言 speech (vs. 儀 [ŋrjaj] be adopted < appearance, posture <- 我 [ŋajʔ] weapon + 羊 ram)
  • [bjuks] be reciprocated, be repeated < 復 [bjuk] return, repeat, redouble
  • [hnrjəʔ] shame <- 耳 [njəʔ] ear + 心 heart
  • [njok] disgrace < 辱 (耨) [noks] rake
  • [ʔjin] be depended on, be followed, cause < 依 [ʔjəj] depend
  • [hljit] lose <- 手 [hjiwʔ] fist + 乙 [ʔrjit] fish gut, second stem
  • [tsuŋ] be adhered to < ancestral hall < 尊 [tsun] venerate, honor
  • [Ljək] eat (cf. 食 [Ljək] food; 飤 [zljəks] feed)
  • [pruʔ] be satisfied, be fulfilled < 包 [pru] contain + 食 food
  • [kja] reside < 居 (踞) [kjas] squat < give birth
  • [ʔan] be contented, be tranquil = 女 woman + 宀 roof
  • [mrjəŋʔ] be quick, be keen <- 每 [məʔ] nourish + 攴 hit
  • [dzjuks] accommodate to, go with < 就 [dzjuk] take in, annex < 京 fortress + 尤 (又) hand
  • [tjeŋs] be straight, be rectified < 正 (整) [tjeŋʔ] rectify < 正 (征) [tjeŋ] impose < 止 [tjəʔ] foot
  • [ʔja'n] contraction in it < 烏 (於) [ʔja] be in + 㱏 (是) [n'tjəʔ] such (vs. 焉 (爰) [gʷja'n] to it < 羽 (于) [gʷja] go to + 㱏 (是) [n'tjəʔ] such)
  • [ljəʔ] already, only, merely < cease, stop
  • [brjən] be poor < 分 [bjəns] be divided + 貝 shell of money < 分 [pjən] divide
  • [kh-ljomʔ] fawn < sleeptalk <- 臽 [khomʔ] pit + 言 speech
  • [pjəks] be rich < 畐 [phjəks] be filled + 宀 roof < 畐 [phjək] fill
  • [krjaw] be proud < tall horse < 喬 [krjaw] be tall + 馬 horse < 高 [kaw] be high
  • [gaj] = 曷 [gat] interrogative pronoun what
  • [stjə] poem < 寺 [zjəs] be regulated + 言 speech < 司 [sjə] regulate
  • [gʷjən] say (cf. 曰 [gʷjot] have said)
  • [tshits] be cut < 切 [tshit] cut <- 七 [tshjit] seven + 刀 knife
  • [tshajs] be filed < 磋 [tshaj] file <- 差 [tshraj] dispatch + 石 stone (cf. 銼 [tsojs] file)
  • [troks] be carved < 琢 [trok] carve <- 豖 [thrjok] shackle + 玉 jade (cf. 鑿 [dzaks] chisel)
  • [majs] be milled, millworks < 磨 [maj] mill <- 麻 [mraj] hemp + 石 stone
  • [hljəʔ] origin < 台 [hlə] fetus + 女 woman
  • [kuk] tell, announce (cf. 告 [kuks] be told, announcement)
  • [tj'ᴀ] contraction the thing about < 之 [tjə] the one's + 於 [ʔja] about
  • [gʷjaŋʔ] go off < 遠 [gʷjanʔ] get farther
  • [grons] fret < 串 (毌) [krons] penetrate + 心 heart (cf. 患 [grons] trouble)

Old Chinese phonetic reconstruction according to Baxter, slightly modified with some w-=>gʷ- (中古‘云’母).

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