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三字经 Three-Character Classic
   2015-07-29 15:37:06    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qin Mei

San Zi Jing(三字经 sān zì jīng), or the Three-Character Classic, is one of the Chinese classic texts. It was written in the 13th century and attributed to Wang Yinglin (王应麟 1223—1296), a noted scholar of the Song dynasty.

It was used to instruct children on the basics of Confucian principles, Chinese history and philosophy. For easy memorization, the text was written in triplets of characters. Most characters are still used today, so you won't use them wrongly in modern writing or speaking.

Here we choose some verses translated by Zhao Yanchun, a professor with Tianjin Foreign Studies University. With the short and simple text arranged in three-word verses, it gives you a good chance to practice your pronunciation and tones.

人之初,rén zhī chū
性本善。xìng běn shàn
性相近,xìng xiang jìn
习相远。xí xiang yuǎn
Man on earth,
Good at birth.
The same nature
Varies on nurture.
释义
人在刚出生时本性都是善良的,而后天成长环境和教育背景的不同造就了不一样的性情。

苟不教,gǒu bú jiào
性乃迁。xìng nǎi qiān
教之道,jiāo zhī dào
贵以专。guì yǐ zhuān
With no education,
There'd be aberration.
To teach well,
You deeply dwell.
释义
孩子如果教育不当,其本性就会发生变化。而教育的关键是专心一致,精讲要义而不厌其烦。

昔孟母,xī mèng mǔ
择邻处,zé lín chǔ
子不学,zǐ bù xué
断机杼。duàn jī zhù
Then Mencius' mother
Chose her neighbor.
At Mencius sloth,
She cut the cloth.
释义
战国时期孟母三迁,其子逃学,孟母就就折断了织布的机杼来教育孟子。

养不教,yǎng bú jiào
父之过。fù zhī guò
教不严,jiāo bù yán
师之惰。shī zhī duò
What's a father?
A good teacher.
What's a teacher?
A strict preacher.
释义
供儿女吃穿而不进行良好的教育,那是做父亲的过错。不严格要求学生是老师没有尽到职责。

玉不琢,yù bù zhuó
不成器。bù chéng qì
人不学,rén bù xué
不知义。bù zhī yì
No jade crude,
Shows craft good.
Unless you learn,
Brute you'll turn.
释义
璞玉不经打磨难成精美的艺术品;人不学习就不懂得人情礼节,也就不能成为有用之才。

为人子,wéi rén zǐ
方少时,fāng shào shí
亲师友,qīn shī yǒu
习礼仪。xí lǐ yí
Son of man,
Mature you can.
Teacher or peer,
Hold them dear.
释义
为人子女终会长大成人。在成长过程中应学会亲近师友,不要轻慢无礼。

融四岁,róng sì suì
能让梨。néng ràng lí
弟于长,dì yú zhǎng
宜先知。yí xiān zhī
Aged four years,
Rong proffered pears.
Bear in mind
Fraternally be kind.
释义
孔融四岁就懂得让梨。这种尊敬和友爱兄长的道理,是每个人从小就应该知道的。

头悬梁,tóu xuán liáng
锥刺股。zhuī cì gǔ
彼不教,bǐ bú jiào
自勤苦。zì qín kǔ
Head hung high!
Needled his thigh!
Not pushed, they
Kept working away.
释义
晋朝的孙敬和战国的苏秦发奋读书。为了不犯困一个把头发悬在屋梁上,一个用锥子刺自己的大腿。

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