Confucius’ Xue Er

🏷  Chinese interlinear recommended · text   —   by Gerry · Mar 2022 · 2792 words

The book Xue Er by Confucius is once again a text that teaches spookery, i.e. ruling one’s subjects through total deception.

Introduction

The 學而 Xué Ér is an ancient Chinese book allegedly written by Confucius, who is said to have lived around 500 BCE. As with many famous works, already the title doesn’t make much sense: It simply repeats the first 2 words and means “studying, but…” which carries no information. The possible punny spook title makes more sense: 學貳 xué èr means something like “imitating the assistants” or “imitating the secondary [people]”. For more proof, this meaning is repeated in the 2nd phrase, as Chinese poetry often uses repetition: 學貳勢傒 xué èr shì xī means “imitate an assistant, pretend to be a servant”. This sums up the whole concept of spookery: nepotist rulers feigning to be independent little people.

One term that is central to the text is 君子 jūnzǐ, which means both “noble character” and “nobleman”. Another central term is 孝弟 xiàodì “filial and fraternal piety”, which puns with 效低 xiàodī “imitating the lower [classes]”. The text was written by aristocrats for aristocrats, and teaches them how to hide their nepotism by posing as commoners!

This ancient Chinese text is proof that cryptocracy, i.e. the concept of ruling by systematically deceiving one’s subjects, was invented independently in many different regions around the world, typically in the most powerful & hierarchic civilizations. We find this concept in ancient Semitic texts, in Greek & Latin texts, in ancient Egypt, and now in ancient China. The Fertile Crescent and China were nowhere close to each other, neither geographically nor culturally. Still, the concept of systematic deception is present in both regions. This proves that it was developed independently: Once a civilization had advanced sufficiantly to allow the rulers to deceive their subjects without retribution or even detection, they did simply that, and even wrote encrypted texts about it!

How to read the interlinear puns

Xue Er

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Confucius master, teacher zi   master, teacher Confuciussays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:Imitating xué imitate xue   xué learn Learningthe assistants / the secondary [people], èr assistant èr assistant, secondary er   ér but but [with]posing outwardly shì pose, outward appearance shi   shí time [constant] time[as] a servant servant servant xi   practice, habit [and] habit[doing] it, zhī it, them zhi   zhī it, them [doing] it,[is it] not also not also bu yi   不亦 not also [is it] not alsogoverning [them]? manage, govern yue   yuè pleasing pleasing?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  Beguiling yòu beguile, lure, mislead you   yǒu there is Having[by being] similar to [one] péng similar, equal peng   péng friend friendsfrom from zi   from froma faraway place遠方 yuǎnfāng far away yuan fang   遠方遠方 yuǎnfāng far away a faraway placecoming, lái come lai   lái come coming,[is it] not also not also bu yi   不亦 not also [is it] not alsocommanding [them]? compel, force, lead, command le   happy, cheerful happy?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  [If] people rén man, people ren   rén man, people [If] peopledo not not bu   not do notknow [him], zhī know zhi   zhī know know [him],yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet yet[he does] not not bu   not [he does] notfeel discomfort, yùn feel hurt yun   yùn feel hurt feel discomfort,[is he] not also not also bu yi   不亦 not also [is he] not also[still] a nobleman?君子 jūnzǐ nobleman jun zi   君子君子 jūnzǐ noble character a noble character?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  

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Youzi有子 yǒuzǐ Youzi you zi   有子有子 yǒuzǐ Youzi Youzisays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:Such he, his, one, such, if qi   he, his, one, such, if Suchacting wéi act as, become wei   wéi act as, become actingpersons, rén man, person ren   rén man, person persons,if [they do] indeed, if ye   indeed, if if [they are]imitate xiào imitate xiao   xiào filial piety of filial pietythe lower [folk] low, beneath di   younger brother and fraternal piety,but [those folk still are] ér but, yet er   ér but, yet but [they still are]prone hào prone to hao   hào prone to proneto offending fàn violate, offend fan   fàn violate, offend to offending[their] superiors, shàng upper, superior shang   shàng upper, superior [their] superiors,  zhě one who (is) zhe   zhě one who (is)  [this would be] rare. xiǎn rare xian   xiǎn rare [this would be] rare.  (final particle) yi   矣; (final particle)  [And if they are] not [even] not bu   not [And if one is] not [even]prone to hào prone to hao   hào prone to prone toviolating fàn violate, offend fan   fàn violate, offend violating[their own] superior, shàng upper, superior shang   shàng upper, superior [one’s own] superior,but ér but, yet er   ér but, yet but[that they would still be] prone hào prone to hao   hào prone to [that one would still be] proneto create zuò do, make zuo   zuò do, make to createdisorder & rebellion, luàn disorder, unrest, rebellion luan   luàn disorder, unrest, rebellion disorder & rebellion,  zhě one who (is) zhe   zhě one who (is)  not wèi not yet wei   wèi not yet not[something like] this zhī this zhi   zhī this [something like] thisthere is yǒu there is you   yǒu there is there isindeed. indeed ye   indeed indeed.[Because even if] a nobleman君子 jūnzǐ nobleman jun zi   君子君子 jūnzǐ noble character A noble characterhas no not have wu   engage, seek, pursue pursues[known] origin, běn source, origin ben   běn source, origin this foundation,[his] capital / current established position本利 běnlì capital and profit ben li   本立 běn this, present, current stand, standing, establish [having] established this,[will] yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet [there will] yetlead dǎo guide, lead dao   dào path, principle [all other] principlesthe multitudes. shēn multitude sheng   shēng born, grow grow.Imitating the lower [classes], xiào imitate low, beneath xiao di   孝弟 xiào filial piety younger brother Filial and fraternal duty,if [one is] also, if ye   also, if if [one is][like] this, zhě one who (is), this zhe   zhě one who (is), this [like] this,that [is] one, it, that qi   one, it, that that [is][just] faking wěi false, fake, forged wei   wéi act as, become becominga person rén man, person ren   rén humane, person of virtue a person of virtueof him zhī him, it zhi   zhī him, it of itthe origin, běn source, origin ben   běn source, origin the origin,[is it not]? and (final particle) yu   與! and (final particle) [is it not]?

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Confucius master, teacher zi   master, teacher Confuciussays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:Skillful words qiǎo skillful yán words, speech qiao yan   巧言 qiǎo skillful yán words, speech Skillful words[and] another lìng other, another ling   lìng good, excellent [and overly] goodappearance, color, look, appearance se   color, look, appearance appearance,[can] visibly xiǎn visible, apparent xian   xiǎn rare [this is] rarechange different, other yi   (final particle)  a person! rén man, person ren   仁! rén person of virtue [for a true] person of virtue!

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Zengzi曾子 zēngzǐ Zengzi zeng zi   曾子曾子 zēngzǐ Zengzi Zengzisays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:I myself I, my wu   I, my I myself[every] day day ri   day [every] day[in] three [ways] sān three san   sān three [in] three [ways][do I] shape xíng appear, look, shape xing   xǐng inspect, examine [do I] inspectmy [own] I, my wu   I, my my [own]self: shēn body, oneself shen   shēn body, oneself self:[When] as wèi as, for wei   wèi as, for [When] for[another] person rén man, person ren   rén man, person [another] person[I do] imitate, imitate mou   móu seek, work for [I do] work,[do I appear] yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet [am I] yetnot not bu   not notcorrect [enough]? zhòng hit the mark, correct, successful zhong   zhōng loyal, honest honest [enough]?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  [When] fooling cheat, deceive, fool yu   together with [When] with[my] retainers朋友 péngyǒu retainers peng you   朋友朋友 péngyou friend [my] friends[in] pretense, jiǎo pretend, feign jiao   jiāo make friends [I do] associate,[do I appear] yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet [am I] yetnot not bu   not notbelievable / accurate [enough]? xìn believe, accurate xin   xìn truthful, true truthful [enough]?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  [When I] play a role, zhuāng play a role, pretend chuan   chuán teach [When I am] taught,[am I] not not bu   not [do I] notthorough [enough]? detailed, meticulous, thoroughly xi   practice, study learn [enough]?  (question) hu   乎? (question)  

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Confucius master, teacher zi   master, teacher Confuciussays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:Leading dǎo lead, guide, direct dao   dǎo lead, guide, direct Leadingof thousands qiān thousand qian   qiān thousand of a thousandof people shēn multitude, crowd sheng   shèng chariot chariots  zhī (possession) zhi   zhī (possession)  a nation, guó nation guo   guó nation a nation,[one must] bury / plaster jǐn bury, plaster jing   jìng respect [one must] respectfully [treat][one’s] affairs shì matter, affair shi   shì matter, affair [one’s] affairsand yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet and yetbe believable, xìn believe, accurate xin   xìn trust, true, truthful be truthful,guard against jiè guard against jie   jié economize, save be economicthe crowds yōng crowd, crowd of people yong   yòng use [with] using [resources]and ér but, yet, and er   ér but, yet, and andobstruct ài hinder, obstruct, block ai   ài like, love lovethe people, rén man, people ren   rén man, people the people,make使 shǐ make, cause, employ shi   使使 shǐ make, cause, employ employingthe people mín people min   mín people the peopleforget lose, forget, fail to remember yi   at atthe truth. shí truth, fact, reality shi   shí time, season [the right] seasons.

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Confucius master, teacher zi   master, teacher Confuciussays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:A ruler emperor, sovereign di zi   junior A youngperson person zi   son, child person[when he] enters [office?] enter ru   enter [when he] enters [the house][he should] imitate follow, imitate ze   but, then thenthe little [people], xiǎo small xiao   xiào filial piety [he should be] filial,[and when he] goes out chū go out chu   chū go out [and when he] goes out[he should still] imitate follow, imitate ze   but, then thenthe lowly [people]. low, beneath di   junior [he should still behave like] a junior.[He should be] careful, jǐn sincere, careful jin   jǐn sincere, careful [He should be] sincere,yet ér but, yet er   ér but, yet andbelievable. xìn believe, accurate xin   xìn trust, true, truthful truthful.[He should] hinder fáng hinder fan   fàn flood, extensive [He should] overflowand obstruct ài hinder, obstruct ai   ài like, love [with] lovethe multitudes zhòng crowd, multitude zhong   zhòng many, numerous [to] alland ér but, yet er   ér but, yet andcapture [???] qín catch, seize, hold, capture qin   qīn close, intimate be closethe people. rén man, person, people ren   rén humane, person of virtue to persons of virtue.[But if he is] able to xíng go, do, able, capable xing   xíng go, do, able, capable [And if he is] able tohave yǒu have, there is you   yǒu have, there is haveextra extra, surplus yu   extra, surplus extraability, strength, power, ability li   strength, power, ability strength,then but, then ze   but, then then[he should] use it by means of, use yi   by means of, use [he should] use itto [still] imitate xué imitate xue   xué learn, study to studygentleness [??]. wēn mild, soft, tender, gentle wen   wén writing, literary literature.

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Zixia子夏 zǐxià Zixia zi xia   子夏子夏 zǐxià Zixia Zixiasays: yuē say yue   yuē say says:[If one’s] appearance顯現 xiǎnxiàn appearance, appear xian   賢賢 xián virtuous, worthy [If] a virtuous manis changed change, exchange yi   change, exchange has changed[for another] role, appearance, theatrical role yi se   易色 beauty, lust [from worshiping?] beauty,[if for] the affairs shì matter, thing, affair shi   shì matter, thing, affair [if for] the affairs[of] a governor府幕 fǔmù government advisor fu mu   父母父母 fùmǔ parents [of his] parents[he] can néng can, able neng   néng can, able [he] canborrow jiè lend, borrow jie   jié exhaust exhaust[for] himself he, his qi   he, his hisa veil [mask], veil li   power, strength, ability energy,[if for] the affairs shì matter, thing, affair shi   shì matter, thing, affair [if for] the affairsof a ruler jūn lord, ruler jun   jūn lord, ruler of [his] ruler[he] can néng can, able neng   néng can, able [he] canconceal zhē cover, hide, conceal zhi   zhì devote, cause devotehis he, his qi   he, his hisself, shēn body, oneself shen   shēn body, oneself self,[if when being] with and, with yu   and, with [if when being] with[his] retainers,朋友 péngyǒu retainers peng you   朋友朋友 péngyou friend [his] friends,[his] pretense jiǎo pretend, feign jiao   jiāo turn over, make friends [his] exchangein speech yán speech, talk, words xing   yán speech, talk, words of speechis but ér but, yet er   ér but, yet is buthaving yǒu have, there is you   yǒu have, there is having[their] trust. xìn trust, believe xing   xìn truthful truth.Although suī although sui   suī although Although[some will] say yuē say yue   yuē say [some will] say[one does] not wèi not, have not wei   wèi not, have not [he has] not[need] imitation [here], xué imitate xue   xué learn learned [anything here],[but] we [in] our吾輩 wúbèi we, us wu bi   吾必 I must, certainly [but] I certainlyposition位置 wèizhi place, position wei zhi   謂之 wèi speak, say zhī him [would] say [that] he [has][need] imitation. xué imitate xue   xué learn learned [something].  (final particle) yi   (final particle)  

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